The Good News That Turned Bad

or is it the bad news that will turn good?

I have been holding a big announcement in the past month. After a 6 month search and at least 30 open house visits, Albert and I finally made an offer to purchase our own home about a month ago. The offer was accepted, so we started to plan for the move, we did research on what furniture to buy, and we began telling our friends and families, etc.

Then the unthinkable happened last weekend. The purchase contract fell apart due to the serious delay from our loan officers to get the final approval. (ask me who NOT to hire at Bank of America privately, if you want to avoid the same mistake!)

It took me a little while to recover from the loss, mainly emotionally. Now, instead of announcing this great news to everyone here, I am sharing this good news that turned bad.

Sorry for all the false excitement and invitations to do things with my new home. Albert and I will continue to rent, moving to a small one bedroom apartment near our current place next week.

My dad is a man with few words. He usually writes or talks to me when big things happen. This time, he reminded me of the following famous Chinese saying -- 塞翁失馬,焉知非福 * --“The old man lost his horse. Nobody really knew if it was good or bad in the end!”

Here is the story behind the saying – There once was a wealthy horse collector in a small town in ancient northern China. (about 150 BC). One of his very good horses ran away into the neighboring barbarian country. Everyone consoled him, but he said “why should I hastily conclude that this is not a fortunate thing?”

After a few months, the horse came back and brought back another very fast horse from the nearby country. Everyone congratulated him, but the old man said “Getting such a special horse for no obvious reason may not be a good thing after all."

One day, the old man’s son fell off of the new horse and crippled his leg. Everyone again, consoled the father. The father again did not jump into any conclusions to whether he should be happy or sad.

One year later, the nearby enemy declared war with the old man’s country, and every healthy young adult was asked to go to war. Almost everyone died in that battle. The old man’s son did not go to war because his leg was crippled!

"A setback may turn out to be a blessing in disguise." or "Every cloud has a silver lining." are similar English sayings. I like this story even more, because it serves both way. Things happen for reasons, and most of the time it is initially not easy to judge whether they are good or bad. If everything goes as you wish, extreme happiness is not necessary. At the same time, if everything seems to be against your dreams, there is no need to be completely devastated, either.

* The Chinese pronunciation is "Sai Weng Shi Ma, Yan Zhi Fei Fu" and the source is from 淮南子/人間訓 (Huainanzi). The Chinese version with pictures can be found here.


Anonymous said...


Well, after reading your article, I wouldn't say "I felt sorry for you." Instead, I would encourage you to continue house-hunting. One day you're going to find an even better one than the one you lost.


Anonymous said...

Though I still wonder how that would happen, I have to agree with your father. It is true that everything happens for some reason, despite you may not know what it is at that time. You didn't lose anything but got 6 more months to look for your ideal apartment.


Wonderland Alice said...

Dear Frieda and Colleen,

It's so good to see your words here when I woke up this morning. Thank you.

I am actually very excited about this new apartment now. Check it out!!! Click into the "Club Level" link and see the gym and the wine tasting room, etc...


I will live in the smallest unit they have with absolutely no view at all. So, I plan to hang out by their beautiful pool all the time. : ) Come visit me!

Miss you, Alice