Loss and Gain

We have a saying in Chinese, 塞翁失馬,焉知非福 – ‘like the man who lost his horse, who’s to know if it’s not good fortune’?  Rather a mouthful when translated into English, but like most Chinese sayings, there’s a story to go with it.

I thought of this when I was told that my Chinese calligraphy workshop and the course for the next two terms have been cancelled due to the lack of interest.

The story goes:  A man lost a mare that strayed over the border but needed no sympathy.  He said, who knows? it may be a good thing.  His mare came back with a stallion in tow but he wanted no congratulations.  He said, it may not be a good thing.  His son rode the stallion, fell off and broke a leg.  Again he said it may turn out OK and sure enough, when the army came through his town and conscripted the young men to war, his son was left behind due to his injury.  Few of the others returned.  So the loss of the mare resulted in his son surviving the war.

I am a volunteer tutor so it’s not as if I’ll be losing income.  In fact, I’ve gained many hours of leisure due to the cancellation.  For years I’ve been wanting to go back to playing with clay.  Now I have time.


Update:  As it happened ten students turned up to enrol in the course and there was no rest for me after all.

Since then I have retired from teaching and concentrated on my urban orchard and posting on my blog.  Recent events have suggested a new direction: no more blogging as I am not able to post or read posts without countless interruptions.

I have removed most of my translations of classical Chinese poems from this blog and will work on publishing them in a book.  I will not be renewing my premium account but this site will be sitting here and those who find it worthwhile may still visit the remaining posts in the archive.

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24 Responses to Loss and Gain

  1. angela1313 says:

    I am glad we will still be able to visit the garden of your posts.This past winter was not the best for me and I am behind in my reading. Knowing they will still be there makes me feel better.I love your work in clay, so much character and so understated. Have fun playing with clay.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. taphian says:

    I really enjoyed the story, dear Mary. Your face of clay in the flowers is really very nice. Hope you have a nice day, kind regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kenza says:

    Hello! I am discovering your blog gently and slowly. I really look forward to your publication of Chinese poetry. Thank you for everything you share. Kenza.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Still good, Mary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I find a new site to follow I go to a post that is closest to my birthdate and often find a gem. This is a gem. Do you have the saying written in pinyin because I like to learn it because it makes such a lot of sense to me right now because big changes are happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cynthia says:

    I’m noticing I dont react to things the way I used to and don’t judge situations as “good’ or “bad” as much as I’m getting older. it’s easier.
    I like your sculpture too. I had a laugh reading your comment that you make crazy things with clay….I bet you do!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. mattb325 says:

    I like the saying. It’s rings very true (although we’re too often caught in the moment of whatever is happening to realise). I also like that clay sculpture…it’s excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. arlingwoman says:

    This reminded me of a story about two boats on a river. One, loaded and piloted, crashes into another and there is much shouting. One crashes into another without a pilot and there is no shouting. The lesson was about going through life empty… One thing leads to another.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love this. :) it reminds me of Kahlil Gibran, “And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy”. I really look forward to seeing your clay works!! :)

    Liked by 1 person

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