A rich and mighty Persian once walked in his garden with one of his servants. The servant cried that he had just encountered Death, who had threatened him. He begged his master to give him his fastest horse so that he could make haste and flee to Teheran, which he could reach that same evening. The master consented and the servant galloped off on the horse. On returning to his house the master himself met Death, and questioned him, “Why did you terrify and threaten my servant?” “I did not threaten him; I only showed surprise in still finding him here when I planned to meet him tonight in Teheran,” said Death.
While searching for the story online, I found one writer who had these insightful comments attached to the tale:
Frankl refers to the story a couple times in this book, at times when a seemingly unfavorable event or choice saved his life. For example, he and another doctor were left off a list of evacuees from a concentration camp to be delivered to the Red Cross. He finds out later that they were, in fact, killed by the SS.
The point of this story isn’t to embrace passivity and trust simply to fate. What I take away is that there are times when nothing we do, or not do, can guarantee the outcome we seek.
Conversely, there are times when a wonderful outcome comes from what initially appear to be terrible circumstances. This is the point Frankl emphasizes in Man’s Search for Meaning