Who knows what’s good and what’s bad?

Who knows what’s good and what’s bad?

[chapter below is from Zen Golf – Mastering the Mental Game – by Dr. Joseph Parent]

Long ago, there was an old farmer living on the outskirts of a little village. He was quite poor, possessing only a small piece of land, a small house in which he lived with his only son, and one horse.

One day, the horse broke out of the corral and ran away. The neighbors came over to console the farmer. They said, “Oh, this is so terrible! You were poor before, but now you’re destitute. What bad luck! This is the worst thing that could have happened.”

The old farmer shrugged his shoulders, and gently said, “Who knows what’s good and what’s bad?”

The farmer fixed the fence and left the gate open. The next day, his horse came back and went right into the corral, followed by a whole herd of wild horses. The neighbors came over to congratulate him. They said, “Oh, this is so wonderful! You were the poorest man in the village and now you’re the richest. What good fortune! This is the best thing that could have happened.”

The old farmer shrugged his shoulders and again said, “Who knows what’s good and what’s bad.”

The next day, his son was working to tame the new horses. One of them bucked and he fell off, breaking his leg. The neighbors came over and said, “Oh, this is so terrible! Now your son is hurt, and horses can’t be tamed, and you have no one to help you harvest your crop. What bad luck! This is the worst thing that could have happened!”

The old farmer shrugged his shoulders and once more said, “Who knows what’s good and what’s bad?”

And the next day, the king’s army came through the countryside, taking all the able-bodied young men off to battle, where they were almost sure to die. But because the old farmer’s son’s leg was hurt, he wasn’t taken along.

So who knows what’s good and what’s bad?

All too often when something happens that seems especially good or bad, we project into the past and the future. We regret and relive a bad event, imagining that if it had gone the other way, everything would have worked out so much better. But that’s pure fantasy. There’s no way to know how things would have worked out. We might think, “Life would be so much better if only I’d made that putt and won the tournament.” But winning a tournament doesn’t guarantee that we’ll live happily ever after. There are many stories of Rookies of the Year who weren’t ready for what success brought to their lives, lost track of their game, and never returned to that level.

Kathy Whitworth, one of the greatest golfers of all time, said she felt very fortunate that it took her several years to win. She felt that learning how to accept losing prepared her to be a better winner.

We might make what we think is a great deal and then find out that the market for that product has disappeared. We might miss our airplane flight and then meet someone at the airport who turns out to be a fantastic business contact. Like golf, life is unpredictable.

When Jack Nicklaus won his last Masters Championship in 1986, his short putt on the twelfth hole hit a spike mark and veered off-line, giving him a bogey. That seemingly bad occurrence fired him up, and he went on to shoot 30 on the back nine for a 65 and his record sixth Green Jacket.

So who knows what’s good and what’s bad?

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