The Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years comes to mind this evening.
One day, the farmer’s horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy for what they called his “misfortune.”
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.
I have many thoughts about this story.
Some people say that the farmer’s bearing is evidence that he does not care what happens.
More conventionally the story is used to help others understand that there’s a whole story to be told and understood and that focusing on any one event in life is at best, fruitless and at most just plain foolish and unwise.
About three weeks ago I had a CT scan just before my fifth round of chemo.
The fellowe came in and told us the results with a sympathetic tone, the cancer is still there. She did say that she was encouraged because the tumor had shrunk significantly. Gina and I were disappointed.
Then Dr. Hamlin came in with a spring in his step. “Great news.” He said. “The tumor has shrunk by 90%. It’s responding very well to the therapy.”
When I said we’d all hoped to have a report of being ‘cancer free’, he mentioned that the 1cm x 4cm tumor may just be residual scar tissue. “It was 9cm x 14cm when we started.” He said. “Nothing to worry about for now. We’ll do a PET scan at your 6th treatment and go from there.” He reassured me.
So here I wait, stewing – the evening before my PET scan.
Hopefully all will be well.
Lymphoma is a systemic disease. So no matter what, I’m in for more follow-up, most likely more treatment, even if the scan is negative.
But I should feel positive and reassured that things could be much worse.
“Maybe.” I say.