Maybe yes, maybe no

There’s a Zen parable about a farmer whose wife gives birth to a healthy baby boy. “How lucky you are!” the villagers exclaim. “You’ll have a strong son to help you work the farm.”

The farmer shrugs. “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

The son grows and helps his father. One day, he runs over his own foot with a plow and damages himself permanently. The villagers commiserate: “What bad luck, that your son is now a cripple!”

The farmer: “Who knows? Maybe yes, maybe no.”

Some years later, there is a huge war. The Emperor’s men come to the village and all able-bodied men are taken into the army, where they will almost surely perish. Because the farmer’s son is crippled, he is left at home with his parents. “How lucky you are, that your son wasn’t taken!” the villagers says.

The farmer says (you guessed it), “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

This is all by way of saying that my father will be operated on in a few short hours. I don’t know what will happen and I’m trying not to have any expectations. Until they open him up and check to see whether the tumor spread, they won’t even know if they can complete the surgery.

Would that be a bad thing? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Because cancer is a horrible disease, and the treatment is no picnic. Hospitals often treat cancer patients more like guinea pigs than humans.

I just want my father to go through the least pain possible. Right now, it seems to be the best I can hope for.