Sai’s Horse – a Japanese Proverb

I ran across a Japanese proverb the other day that provides an interesting take on the good and bad events of our lives. The saying goes:

Sai's Horse

ningen banji, saiou ga uma

(Check out my Easy-Peasy Japanese Pronunciation Guide)

Which is translated something like “All human affairs are like Saiou’s horse”. Personally, I would translate it as “All Humans: Saiou is a horse” but I’m sure I’m wrong about that.

Anyway, this saying is obviously meaningless without the back story so here is the A.D.D. version:

During a period of war, Sai’s horse ran away into enemy territory. (bad luck?)

A while later the horse came back with a bunch of other horses. (good luck?)

With so many horses around, Sai’s son decided to learn to ride them, and promptly fell off one and broke his leg. (bad luck?)

The war then escalated and many young people from the area died in battle, but Sai’s son survived because he was home with a broken leg. (Good luck!)

So the moral of the story is: When something good or bad happens, you can never say for sure how it will turn out in the end. Some bad events turn out for the better, and some good events turn out for the worse. So it’s best not to party too hard when things are going your way, nor beat yourself up too badly when they are not.


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