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"It's Nothing at All 'til We Call It"
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By Rebecca Fine

In long-ago China there lived a peasant farmer by the name of Chang Wei-Kung. Now in those days, in that country, a subsistence farmer like Wei-Kung relied heavily on his sons to help with planting, cultivation, and especially to bring in the harvest. But Wei-Kung had only one son — named Chi — a big, strong, strapping fellow, of whom his father was very proud.

One day, as father and son were walking to the fields to begin the harvest, they were so caught up in their conversation that Chi didn't notice where he was stepping, and in a flash he had fallen and broken his leg.

"Oh, no!" his father cried, "This is terrible!" And, in truth, in those days a broken leg WAS a grievous injury, one that could even result in death if left untreated. But soon the doctor came and set the leg and assured both men that it would heal just fine.

Wei-Kung was, of course, relieved. Yet he still faced a dilemma: How to bring in the harvest without Chi's help. Despite his relief that Chi would live and be healthy, a dreary air of gloom and despair settled on him. He'd just have to do the best he could, maybe find others to help, but the specter of losing his harvest loomed bleakly before him and his heart was heavy. Wei-kung was thoroughly convinced that Chi's accident was a disastrous misfortune.

The next day, as Wei-Kung prepared to go to the fields and get done what he could manage alone, he heard a far-off rumble that he soon recognized as the sound of hundreds of hoofbeats. A bit startled, he delayed his departure and waited to see what was happening.

Soon he got his answer, as a massive army led by a fierce-looking warlord thundered into his dooryard. "All able-bodied men come forward!" the warlord's lieutenant called out. "You are hereby pressed into service and will come with us now!"

Wei-Kung bowed and explained that he had only one son and that he was unfit for the army as he had broken his leg just the day before. The warrior chief scowled and sent a man into the house to see for himself if Wei-Kung's story were true. When he was satisfied, he simply nodded to his lieutenant who quietly raised his hand, and the horde of men and horses disappeared over the hill as quickly as they had arrived.

"Such a blessing!" Wei-Kung shouted, as he embraced his son. "How wonderful it is that your leg is broken and you are not to be taken from me!"

Now, Gentle Reader, I ask you to bear this story in mind as you review this passage from Wallace Wattles' life-changing forgotten 1910 classic, The Science of Getting Rich:

"To do things in the way you want to do them, you will have to acquire the ability to think the way you want to think. This is the first step toward getting rich. And to think what you want to think is to think TRUTH, regardless of appearances.

"Every individual has the natural and inherent power to think what he wants to think, but it requires far more effort to do so than it does to think the thoughts which are suggested by appearances.

"To think according to appearances is easy; to think truth regardless of appearances is laborious and requires the expenditure of more power than any other work we are called upon to perform.

"There is no labor from which most people shrink as they do from that of sustained and consecutive thought. It is the hardest work in the world. This is especially true when truth is contrary to appearances.

So what was the TRUTH of Wei-Kung's situation? Was Chi's accident a terrible thing — or a wonderful thing?

In a recent edition of my ezine, The Certain Way, a quotation that fits this story quite well was featured. The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, wrote this:

"Let us consider an alternative style of thinking, which we can call 'creative thinking.' It is playfully instructive to note that the word 'reactive' and the word 'creative' are made up of exactly the same letters. The only difference between the two is that you 'C' [see] differently."

Sometimes we can get ourselves into the habit of seeing things in a negative way, a way that doesn't serve us. But we DO always have the CHOICE of how we see. And sometimes, as with Wei-Kung, we need something to come along and kind of smack into us to jar us into seeing and thinking a different — better, more positive, more creative, more USEFUL — way, don't we?

Now, lest you think I'm only "preaching" platitudes and nice stories, let me assure you that everything I share with you here is something I have experienced or am experiencing myself. And so it is with this "is it good or bad?" lesson.

I recently took a long trip to Central America — and it was terrific, too. But what happened on my return is what I'd like to show you now, and believe me, this is difficult.

Before I was out of the airport parking lot — having been traveling for 16 hours and awake for more than 60 — I learned that my whole world had been turned upside down FOR me, through no choice of mine. I heard that my most important relationship, of 14 years, was kaput (yes, dumped for the infamous "other woman") and that there would be no one but me there when I got home.

So. Ouch. Real BIG ouch. Well, we've all been there, haven't we? Maybe not quite the same situation, but we've all felt that kind of shock, betrayal, loss, disbelief, anger, humiliation, pain. That's just part of being human, of what a teacher of mine calls "Earth School." And it's so EASY simply to react and let those flooding emotions just take us over completely, to sink into despair and into competitive mind (where we judge the other people involved and ourselves so harshly), to say as Wei-Kung did, "This is terrible!" and to feel that all is lost.

But still, there IS that choice — to be creative rather than reactive, to CHOOSE another way of looking at the situation. Creative mind is always available to us, but as Mr. Wattles notes, sometimes it's REALLY hard work — "the hardest work in the world." And yet, in my experience at least, that choice is the surest route to truth rather than mere appearances.

See, I went off looking for adventure and transformation. I had asked for that. I also asked for more wisdom. Those were part of my "clear, mental image" of what I wanted. I got both. No, I would not have chosen to have the second part (so far!) of my adventure delivered in this manner and this wasn't exactly the kind of transformation I had in mind(!), but this is how it arrived.

And wisdom? It doesn't show up in a nice, neat package labeled "Wisdom." It gets delivered through experience — and through our decisions about how to view our experience, what value and meaning we CHOOSE to assign to events.

So, while it IS painful (and Mr. Wattles is right about the hard work!), I choose to see this major life transition as the gift it truly is. You know, Thomas Edison awoke one morning to find his laboratory and his life's work had been destroyed in a fire. And he looked at the ashes and said that he was glad. All his mistakes had been wiped out and he now had the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

We all have that opportunity. Every day, in every moment. As I've said here — and more than once — if we have chosen unwisely in the past, the great gift is that we can choose again right now. And the truth is, when appearances seem to be that our current experience is "bad," we must KEEP choosing — over and over, in every moment — to see past those appearances so that we don't miss the doors that are opening to us even as others that we have outgrown our need for are closing. It's not a one-shot deal where you tie up all the loose ends quickly and neatly and then move on, but an ongoing process of discovery, challenge, and growth.

We're all in the process somewhere; we truly ARE all in this together. And by our choices from moment to moment we determine whether we just spin round and round, seeming to bump up against the same challenges and potential lessons again and again, or accept them and move forward, spiral upward to greater things, upward to the greater good for ourselves and for all.

Mary Manin Morrissey, the author of Building Your Field of Dreams, told a story recently about a good friend of hers and that friend's daughter, people she's known more than 30 years. The daughter had called her mom with the news that she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mom was startled, of course, and immediately blurted out exactly what Wei-Kung said, what most of us would say in the shock of the moment and before we were able to absorb that shock: "Oh, no! That's terrible!"

But her daughter — brought up in what you might truthfully call "the certain way" — calmly answered, "No, Mom. It's nothing at all 'til WE call it."

And so it is, my friend. Whatever happens, however grim it may initially seem, there IS a gift wrapped up in there. Many gifts, actually. Finding the gifts — the blessings, the benefits, the lessons, the messages, the silver linings — all depends on how we choose to see the situation. Is it good? Or is it bad?

It's NOTHING at all 'til WE call it.

Rebecca Fine is the founder of The Science of Getting Rich Network where you can download your free copy of the amazing 1910 forgotten classic, The Science of Getting Rich.    ©2001 Certain Way Productions.

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