Not a proper interpretation of the proverb.
It is an interesting experience to be raised in a Chinese home. (Then again, I wouldn’t know what it is like to be raised in a home that wasn’t.) I receive tasty and healthy homemade meals from my mom, and I get red envelopes full of money at least two days out of the year: Chinese New Year and my birthday. I also get lifelong lessons on things such as tradition, honor, and martial arts. (Just kidding. Sorry, white folk–as opposed to conventional stereotypes, we don’t all know Kung Fu.)
What’s more, the perspectives my family and I share regarding certain issues of life can be quite intriguing. It wouldn’t do justice to say it was just a race thing, because it also has as much to do with age, generational differences, religious, cultural, and individual experiences. But whenever there is a deeper issue worth probing into, we would always enjoy sharing about our respective worldviews. And whenever I lay down my pride or ego, a lot of times, I realize they are actually quite right.
From time to time, whenever appropriate, my parents would mix in old Chinese proverbs to supposedly illustrate or enlighten my knowledge of the topic at hand. Sometimes, I don’t pay much attention to them. But then there are times when it seems like a picture perfect example, a beautifully profound concept wrapped up in a simple, vivid phrase.
There’s a saying in Chinese that, loosely translated, means “Ride a cow, while finding a horse.” The first time I heard this was over dinner, when we talked about jobs, careers, and doing something you really enjoy. I was doing a stint at this dental lab at the time, and I told them how I had other aspirations of being a published author. I ranted and whined and complained. My parents, the patient ones that they are, heard me out. Then, before long, they responded with this proverb. This was one of the few that struck a chord that night, and has stuck with me ever since.
This maxim, at its core, means that while you are looking for a horse, it is good to be riding a cow. Why? Because it is much better to be riding something, as slow as it may be, instead of walking to get to your destination.
This applies to my friends and readers who are looking for jobs and/or a means to fund their passions, whatever they may be. I share this because I know for our generation, we are a mixed bunch. Some of us have no idea what we want to do. Others of us want to just follow our passion (even if it’s weaving dreamcatchers) and make lots of money doing it. I am guilty of the same. As I’ve shared many times before, I would love to make a living writing books and literature.
But, while I am cultivating my talent, I still need to have something to feed myself. To pay the bills. To allow me to support my own basic living. I still need my cow. That’s why I have a 9-5 which would afford me that (though it also happens to be a great job, a dream job for many).
So, I want to encourage all of my readers who are having a tough time in the job sector. It’s not easy. I know how it is–I didn’t find my first real job until 7 months after my graduation. It was a humbling experience. But what I’ve learned through the hardship was this: you must first lay down your pride, learn to suck it up, and continue to persevere in whatever craft or area you would truly like to pursue.
I think many of us are so used to having things handed to us or “getting it our way” that we aren’t used to the struggle. We don’t know what it means to bust our chops and work crazy nightshifts. But, often times, it is only through these seemingly “going-nowhere” phases that we learn the lifelong character lessons of diligence and sacrifice, lessons that prepare us for the next step in life.
Because as tough as it might seem right now, things will get better. But you can’t just sit there and wait. Do what you can with whatever opportunities, big or small, that are before you. The horse is out there, but it might take awhile to catch it.
So, if life hands you a cow, ride it. Cause in the meantime, it sure beats sitting or walking. And if all else fails, shake it. (I hereby absolve myself of any possible misinterpretation of those lines.)