Home Russell County NOTE TO SELF: ‘Maybe’


Note to Self
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Life is a complex mystery. You never know how anything that happens in the present will turn out later on. In the same way, you never know what will come next. There is a weird paradox that what may seem “bad” now but may turn out in the future to be the the catalyst towards something that you consider good. The opposite is also true. Long is the list of people who win the lottery in one moment and run their lives into the ground in the next. The same could be true with nearly anything.

In 2014, I lost my job at Fruit of the Loom, where I had worked for almost 12 years. This seemed like it would be a bad situation. I was let go on a Sunday and started school on Monday. I graduated with a degree in Surgical Technology, where I was able to work in surgery. This is also where I met my wife, Katie. 

Katie and I have tried for 51 months to have a child. Month after month of crushing negative tests left us showered in doubt and hopelessness. The 51 months of trial and purification by fire bonded us together in a way that we couldn’t have expected.

Every chapter of your story transitions into another. While it is happening, it’s very difficult to tell how anything will turn out. Alan Watts tells The Story of the Chinese Farmer:

“Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”

The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again, all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

This may help you reconsider labeling anything as bad or good. You never know the the consequences of good fortune or of misfortune. In some sense, it’s never the beginning and never the end of any situation. You are always riding the wave of previous situations. This should help you relax a little; you are always in the middle of your story. As life comes into view, remember that every moment is transient and unpredictable. No time of your life is permanent and fixed. Relax and allow the pages to carry you forward. 

Each moment, another sentence turns into a paragraph until a page is turned. The pages turn into a chapter as you move through life. Relax into the chapter that you are in. Is it a good or bad chapter? Maybe.

Eric Overby lives in Russell County. You can find his poetry on Amazon and more of his writings on Instagram @mindful_stoic_poet.

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