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Proverbs

The Old Man Who Lost His Horse

The 54-year-old informant is a elementary school Chinese teacher and is originally from Taiyuan, China. She’s been hearing and telling Chinese folklore her entire life, and often shares it with her students. Her stories represent Chinese culture and the qualities that Chinese people value.

“Once there was an old man that lived on the border of China and Mongolia. He had one horse that was very, very handsome in terms of height, strong-ness, and had a luscious mane. Very handsome. One day, the horse ran away. The man wanted to have a horse so he could breed and raise more similar horses, but it ran away! So he was very, very sad. He complained a lot.

But his neighbor said, ‘Well you lost your horse, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing! It may be a good thing.’ But the man was still sad about his horse because it was a good horse and he shouldn’t have lost it because it was so good, so strong. Also, a lot of people admired him because of that horse.

And after a couple of weeks, the horse came back! And it brought a group of horses back to his home. The man was very, very happy. The neighbor said, ‘See? You lost your horse–it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Right now you got more horses, right?’ So the man was very happy. And his son was very snobby, saying, ‘See? My dad is doing very well. We have so many great-looking horses!’

One day, his song was riding the horses because those horses run fast, but guess what? Unfortunately, his son fell from the horse’s back and broke his legs. The father said, ‘So bad! We have a good, but it’s bad that you broke your legs.’ So the neighbor told him again, ‘It doesn’t mean that this is a bad thing.’

So around the border, you know, China and other countries often go to war. They fight each other, right? Since crippled people can’t be drafted in the army, the son was not drafted. In the whole village, he was the only man of his age to not be drafted. He married and also had grandsons for the old man. The neighbor said, ‘See? That’s not a bad thing. Everyone went off to war, and they might not come back.’ So, at least his son stayed with him, so this is not a bad thing.

The moral of this story is, when something appears to be a bad situation–it’s not necessarily a bad situation. It might be good! Bad situations change to good situations, good situations change to bad situations.”

This story emphasizes the idea of things that are “blessings in disguise.” This story describes positive, concrete events that come out of bad situations, but we as an audience can glean that we can always find the good in bad or undesirable situations, or the “silver lining,” if you will. And this goes for almost any situation.

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