#122 - The Story of the Chinese Farmer

January 12, 2022

The way you process your life experience is all about your perspective. This short story about a Chinese farmer will illustrate that perfectly.

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[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to tell you a thought-provoking story about the importance of perspective. Roll the intro.

[00:00:17] The Life and English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school. And it's made possible by our VIP community. By becoming a VIP member of the Life in English Community, you'll get access to our Private Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes, interactive transcripts, and vocabulary and grammar guides. If you'd like to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:00:44] Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer who lost a horse. It ran away. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Oh, that's too bad". And the farmer said, "Maybe". The next day, the horse came back and brought seven wild horses with it, and all the neighbors came around and said, "Well, that's great, isn't it?". And the farmer said, "Maybe".

[00:01:08] The next day, his son, who was attempting to tame one of the horses was riding it and he was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Well, that's too bad, isn't it?". And the farmer said, "Maybe". The next day, the military officers came around looking for people to join the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. So all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Isn't that wonderful?" And the farmer said, "Maybe".

[00:01:37] The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity. It really is impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad because you never know what the consequences of a misfortune will be. And you never know what the consequences of good fortune will be. One door closes, another one opens. You're up today and you're down tomorrow. It was all good just a week ago. It was fascinating how one simple decision can spark an unpredictable chain of events that range from good to bad or from wonderful to horrific.

[00:02:14] For example, a kid grows up in a violent and unpredictable environment. His parents are abusive drug addicts that give him no love, attention, or guidance in his life as he grows up. He comes to know despair, pain, sorrow, loneliness, and rage at a very young age, but even still, he doesn't let his upbringing define him or his future. He finds a way to teach, take care of and rely on himself so that he doesn't end up like his parents. After years of getting beat by his parents and witnessing the effects of drug addiction, he decides that he wants to break the cycle of damaged parents raising damaged children. So he decides to become a child psychologist and he does social work at local schools and churches.

[00:02:57] And now he's a positive influence and a father figure for countless kids in his community, keeping them out of trouble and thus saving countless lives in the process. He's helping kids to understand that even if you can't change your environment at the moment, you can always choose how you react to your environment. So was this man growing up in an abusive, toxic environment, a good thing or a bad thing?

[00:03:22] A new social media website allows people to reconnect with long-lost friends and family members, but it also plays a part in the increase of teenage suicide. It allows creative and ambitious people to start their own businesses and reach millions of people almost instantly. But the owners of the platform also bend and censor certain individuals simply because they have opposing political views, and their following is getting a little too big.

[00:03:48] Social media allows us to spread and share information faster than ever before. People have access to knowledge and wisdom that they wouldn't have if not for social media. But they're also exposed to more lives and manufactured information than ever before. So was the invention of social media a good thing or a bad thing?

[00:04:10] In 1998, in a small town in India, a man was tired of seeing his wife's struggle with the inconveniences of the female menstrual cycle. His wife was collecting filthy rags and newspapers to use as sanitary pads while she was on her period because the pads that were made by multinational corporations were just too expensive. So he decided to start experimenting to see if he could create a more cost-effective option for the women in this country. He tried different materials, sizes, and chemicals, but his wife and sisters didn't like any of them. He becomes so obsessed with this idea that his wife and sisters eventually refuse to be test subjects for his project.

[00:04:49] So he looked for other women to test his invention, but they weren't even open to talking about their menstrual cycles with him as they were kind of shy and it was like a taboo topic at the time. But instead of giving up, he started testing the sanitary pads on himself. This man would fill a bladder with animal blood to simulate a woman menstruating just so he could test his invention. And this quickly made him the laughing stock of the village and his family and friends thought he was fucking crazy and they began to ostracize him.

[00:05:18] He started giving his products to girls at the local medical college for free just to get some feedback from the people who would actually use the product. It took him over two years to finally find the right materials and invent a low-cost machine that could produce the sanitary pads the right way at a price that women in India could afford.

[00:05:39] Eventually, he went on to have his invention recognized nationally and even got financial investments to scale his company. And now he's praised as a man who played a major role in changing women's lives forever in India. The pad-making machine that he invented also creates jobs and income for many women, and the affordable pads enable a lot more women to continue working and making money while they're on their period.

[00:06:03] So this man has undoubtedly inspired people all over his country to do great things like start businesses, create solutions to other social issues in their country. Stay dedicated to your purpose and to never give up just because it gets difficult or people think you're crazy. There's no way that we can measure how much of a positive impact this man has had on his country and his people.

[00:06:26] So, was this man's decision to create a more cost-effective sanitary pad for his wife and sisters a good one or a bad one? It's our perspective that determines whether something is good or bad, and our perspective can change over time, which in turn can change how we look at a situation over time. What’s good today, could be bad next year. But the reality is that things are neither good nor bad. They just are.

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to tell you a thought-provoking story about the importance of perspective. Roll the intro.

[00:00:17] The Life and English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school. And it's made possible by our VIP community. By becoming a VIP member of the Life in English Community, you'll get access to our Private Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes, interactive transcripts, and vocabulary and grammar guides. If you'd like to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:00:44] Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer who lost a horse. It ran away. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Oh, that's too bad". And the farmer said, "Maybe". The next day, the horse came back and brought seven wild horses with it, and all the neighbors came around and said, "Well, that's great, isn't it?". And the farmer said, "Maybe".

[00:01:08] The next day, his son, who was attempting to tame one of the horses was riding it and he was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Well, that's too bad, isn't it?". And the farmer said, "Maybe". The next day, the military officers came around looking for people to join the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. So all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Isn't that wonderful?" And the farmer said, "Maybe".

[00:01:37] The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity. It really is impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad because you never know what the consequences of a misfortune will be. And you never know what the consequences of good fortune will be. One door closes, another one opens. You're up today and you're down tomorrow. It was all good just a week ago. It was fascinating how one simple decision can spark an unpredictable chain of events that range from good to bad or from wonderful to horrific.

[00:02:14] For example, a kid grows up in a violent and unpredictable environment. His parents are abusive drug addicts that give him no love, attention, or guidance in his life as he grows up. He comes to know despair, pain, sorrow, loneliness, and rage at a very young age, but even still, he doesn't let his upbringing define him or his future. He finds a way to teach, take care of and rely on himself so that he doesn't end up like his parents. After years of getting beat by his parents and witnessing the effects of drug addiction, he decides that he wants to break the cycle of damaged parents raising damaged children. So he decides to become a child psychologist and he does social work at local schools and churches.

[00:02:57] And now he's a positive influence and a father figure for countless kids in his community, keeping them out of trouble and thus saving countless lives in the process. He's helping kids to understand that even if you can't change your environment at the moment, you can always choose how you react to your environment. So was this man growing up in an abusive, toxic environment, a good thing or a bad thing?

[00:03:22] A new social media website allows people to reconnect with long-lost friends and family members, but it also plays a part in the increase of teenage suicide. It allows creative and ambitious people to start their own businesses and reach millions of people almost instantly. But the owners of the platform also bend and censor certain individuals simply because they have opposing political views, and their following is getting a little too big.

[00:03:48] Social media allows us to spread and share information faster than ever before. People have access to knowledge and wisdom that they wouldn't have if not for social media. But they're also exposed to more lives and manufactured information than ever before. So was the invention of social media a good thing or a bad thing?

[00:04:10] In 1998, in a small town in India, a man was tired of seeing his wife's struggle with the inconveniences of the female menstrual cycle. His wife was collecting filthy rags and newspapers to use as sanitary pads while she was on her period because the pads that were made by multinational corporations were just too expensive. So he decided to start experimenting to see if he could create a more cost-effective option for the women in this country. He tried different materials, sizes, and chemicals, but his wife and sisters didn't like any of them. He becomes so obsessed with this idea that his wife and sisters eventually refuse to be test subjects for his project.

[00:04:49] So he looked for other women to test his invention, but they weren't even open to talking about their menstrual cycles with him as they were kind of shy and it was like a taboo topic at the time. But instead of giving up, he started testing the sanitary pads on himself. This man would fill a bladder with animal blood to simulate a woman menstruating just so he could test his invention. And this quickly made him the laughing stock of the village and his family and friends thought he was fucking crazy and they began to ostracize him.

[00:05:18] He started giving his products to girls at the local medical college for free just to get some feedback from the people who would actually use the product. It took him over two years to finally find the right materials and invent a low-cost machine that could produce the sanitary pads the right way at a price that women in India could afford.

[00:05:39] Eventually, he went on to have his invention recognized nationally and even got financial investments to scale his company. And now he's praised as a man who played a major role in changing women's lives forever in India. The pad-making machine that he invented also creates jobs and income for many women, and the affordable pads enable a lot more women to continue working and making money while they're on their period.

[00:06:03] So this man has undoubtedly inspired people all over his country to do great things like start businesses, create solutions to other social issues in their country. Stay dedicated to your purpose and to never give up just because it gets difficult or people think you're crazy. There's no way that we can measure how much of a positive impact this man has had on his country and his people.

[00:06:26] So, was this man's decision to create a more cost-effective sanitary pad for his wife and sisters a good one or a bad one? It's our perspective that determines whether something is good or bad, and our perspective can change over time, which in turn can change how we look at a situation over time. What’s good today, could be bad next year. But the reality is that things are neither good nor bad. They just are.

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Do you tend to see the glass half full or half empty? Why?
  • What's something you know for certain?
  • Should it be mandatory for people to serve in the national military? Why or why not?
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
Download the VIP
Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to tell you a thought-provoking story about the importance of perspective. Roll the intro.

[00:00:17] The Life and English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school. And it's made possible by our VIP community. By becoming a VIP member of the Life in English Community, you'll get access to our Private Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes, interactive transcripts, and vocabulary and grammar guides. If you'd like to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:00:44] Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer who lost a horse. It ran away. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Oh, that's too bad". And the farmer said, "Maybe". The next day, the horse came back and brought seven wild horses with it, and all the neighbors came around and said, "Well, that's great, isn't it?". And the farmer said, "Maybe".

[00:01:08] The next day, his son, who was attempting to tame one of the horses was riding it and he was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Well, that's too bad, isn't it?". And the farmer said, "Maybe". The next day, the military officers came around looking for people to join the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. So all the neighbors came around that evening and said, "Isn't that wonderful?" And the farmer said, "Maybe".

[00:01:37] The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity. It really is impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad because you never know what the consequences of a misfortune will be. And you never know what the consequences of good fortune will be. One door closes, another one opens. You're up today and you're down tomorrow. It was all good just a week ago. It was fascinating how one simple decision can spark an unpredictable chain of events that range from good to bad or from wonderful to horrific.

[00:02:14] For example, a kid grows up in a violent and unpredictable environment. His parents are abusive drug addicts that give him no love, attention, or guidance in his life as he grows up. He comes to know despair, pain, sorrow, loneliness, and rage at a very young age, but even still, he doesn't let his upbringing define him or his future. He finds a way to teach, take care of and rely on himself so that he doesn't end up like his parents. After years of getting beat by his parents and witnessing the effects of drug addiction, he decides that he wants to break the cycle of damaged parents raising damaged children. So he decides to become a child psychologist and he does social work at local schools and churches.

[00:02:57] And now he's a positive influence and a father figure for countless kids in his community, keeping them out of trouble and thus saving countless lives in the process. He's helping kids to understand that even if you can't change your environment at the moment, you can always choose how you react to your environment. So was this man growing up in an abusive, toxic environment, a good thing or a bad thing?

[00:03:22] A new social media website allows people to reconnect with long-lost friends and family members, but it also plays a part in the increase of teenage suicide. It allows creative and ambitious people to start their own businesses and reach millions of people almost instantly. But the owners of the platform also bend and censor certain individuals simply because they have opposing political views, and their following is getting a little too big.

[00:03:48] Social media allows us to spread and share information faster than ever before. People have access to knowledge and wisdom that they wouldn't have if not for social media. But they're also exposed to more lives and manufactured information than ever before. So was the invention of social media a good thing or a bad thing?

[00:04:10] In 1998, in a small town in India, a man was tired of seeing his wife's struggle with the inconveniences of the female menstrual cycle. His wife was collecting filthy rags and newspapers to use as sanitary pads while she was on her period because the pads that were made by multinational corporations were just too expensive. So he decided to start experimenting to see if he could create a more cost-effective option for the women in this country. He tried different materials, sizes, and chemicals, but his wife and sisters didn't like any of them. He becomes so obsessed with this idea that his wife and sisters eventually refuse to be test subjects for his project.

[00:04:49] So he looked for other women to test his invention, but they weren't even open to talking about their menstrual cycles with him as they were kind of shy and it was like a taboo topic at the time. But instead of giving up, he started testing the sanitary pads on himself. This man would fill a bladder with animal blood to simulate a woman menstruating just so he could test his invention. And this quickly made him the laughing stock of the village and his family and friends thought he was fucking crazy and they began to ostracize him.

[00:05:18] He started giving his products to girls at the local medical college for free just to get some feedback from the people who would actually use the product. It took him over two years to finally find the right materials and invent a low-cost machine that could produce the sanitary pads the right way at a price that women in India could afford.

[00:05:39] Eventually, he went on to have his invention recognized nationally and even got financial investments to scale his company. And now he's praised as a man who played a major role in changing women's lives forever in India. The pad-making machine that he invented also creates jobs and income for many women, and the affordable pads enable a lot more women to continue working and making money while they're on their period.

[00:06:03] So this man has undoubtedly inspired people all over his country to do great things like start businesses, create solutions to other social issues in their country. Stay dedicated to your purpose and to never give up just because it gets difficult or people think you're crazy. There's no way that we can measure how much of a positive impact this man has had on his country and his people.

[00:06:26] So, was this man's decision to create a more cost-effective sanitary pad for his wife and sisters a good one or a bad one? It's our perspective that determines whether something is good or bad, and our perspective can change over time, which in turn can change how we look at a situation over time. What’s good today, could be bad next year. But the reality is that things are neither good nor bad. They just are.

[END OF EPISODE]

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