I’ve raved written in the past about this wonderful book of stories before.
In Jon M. Muth’s Zen Shorts, Stillwater, the serene and friendly Giant Panda of a neighbour to three children, siblings Karl, Michael and Addy, offers his own brand of Zen guidance and advice.
Through ancient stories infused with traditional Buddhist teachings, Stillwater provides solutions to the childen’s various individual conflicts.
These stories provide such tangible messages through simple yet engaging narrative along with wonderful artwork, moving between the full colour drawings of Stillwater and the children, and black & white sketches of the various ancient tales.
And while, yes, this is another plug gentle encouragement to give this book to your child, or your neighbour’s child, or your sister’s husband’s mother’s child… or yourself for that matter, it’s really one of the stories I’d like to specifically address here.
It’s the tale of an old farmer and his son. In short, and without infringing on copyright(!), the story has the farmer’s son buying a horse (good luck?), horse running away (bad luck?), horse returning with two other wild horses (good luck?), boy attempts to ride one of them and is thrown, breaking his leg (bad luck?), shortly thereafter visited by military recruiters who won’t accept him due to his injury (good luck?)….
And so it is. With each new circumstance the ever-sympathetic neighbours qualify it with either judgement, “such good luck” or conversely, “such bad luck”, to which the wise old farmer consistently and simply replies, “maybe’.
The message, as summed up by young Michael to the gentle Stillwater, “Maybe good luck and bad luck are all mixed up. You never know what will happen next.”
Hmmmmmm. Wonderful messages and a certain must read for any child… or adult….