My Kid’s Broken Teeth + A Taoist Parable

Early in February my son fell walking up some basement stairs at a friend’s place; he banged his head, knee and cut his finger. When he was waiting for a band-aid, he felt dizzy and passed out, falling forward and breaking his two front teeth on the kitchen floor. After six hours at Sick Kids Hospital it was determined that he did not have a concussion, his knee was just bruised, emergency first-aid dental procedures would be enough to seal his broken teeth (until we could see our regular dentist) and 4 stitches were needed for the finger cut. After 3 weeks the internal tooth fracture healed well enough that our dentist could build his teeth back up.

You can imagine it was hard for me to not freak out and panic. Fortunately while this was all happening, I was reading a book about Traditional Chinese Medicine approaches to healing the different stages of women’s cycles, Reflections Of The Moon On Water by Xiaolan Zhao. Reading the following parable has helped me put my son’s traumatic accident and consequences in perspective:

“There is a Taoist parable that expresses the relative nature of opposites. One day a farmer was telling his neighbour about his horse that ran away. The neighbour sympathized with the farmer, say, “That’s too bad”. The farmer replied, “You never know what is good or bad”. The next morning the horse returned. But it was not alone. It brought with it many wild horses. The neighbour said to the farmer, “Congratulations, it’s good that your house has returned and brought many other horses”. Again the farmer said, “You never know what is good or bad”. The next morning the farmer’s son went to mount one of the wild horses. The horse threw the young man, who fell off and broke his leg. Once again the neighbour sympathized with the farmer. For the third time, the farmer said, “You never know what is good or bad”. The next day soldiers rode by. They were forcing young men to join the army. Because of his broken leg, the farmer’s son was not conscripted.”

Broken teeth and possible future root canal? I’m trying to tell myself: you never know what is good or bad. Leaving Sick Kids and all of us musing on what a great experience it was (all things considered) and my son mentioning he may want to work there in the future? You never know what is good or bad!

[originally published March 2020]

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