Sometimes the best course is to let nature take its course

Zhang Ciyun
You may fail even if you strive to achieve something, or you may achieve something by happenstance.
Zhang Ciyun
Sometimes the best course is to let nature take its course
Li Chaoquan

It’s not rare to spend considerable effort to finish a job or find something that’s lost, only to fail in the end. At the same time, happenstance may bring unexpected success.

Chinese people tend to quote two long but common phrases to describe such a situation.

The first one says youxin zaihua huabukai, wuxin chaliu liuchenghang. The verbatim translation is “purposely plant flowers and they don’t bloom; accidentally stick a willow twig in the mud, and it grows into a row of willow trees.”


yǒu xīn zāi huā huā bù kāi


wú xīn chā liǔ liǔ chéng háng

The expression comes from a book entitled “Civilian Mottos from Ancient China,” which was first mentioned in “Peony Pavilion,” a celebrated play written by Tang Xianzu (1550-1616), who is known as the “Chinese Shakespeare.”

It sounds a bit like the English saying: “Follow love and it will flee; flee love and it will follow thee.”

Actually, the saying advocates the Taoist idea of letting nature take its course.

The other Chinese proverb, namely, tapo tiexie wumichu, delai quanbu feigongfu, describes someone walking a long way and even wearing out a pair of shoes in a hunt for something, then suddenly finding it without breaking sweat.


tà pò tiě xié wú mì chù


dé lái quán bù fèi gōng fu

This saying consists of two lines from a poem written by Xia Yuanding, a Taoist of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

This saying seems to indicate finding something by sheer luck, but some people interpret it as “success is born out of hard work.”

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