The Problem in the Bag

Folktale from Syria

High up on the mountain lived an old wise woman. Many followed the pathway up to her simple house to consult her about their problems.

One evening, seven people sat around the fireplace and drank coffee, boiled on melted water from the snow. Everyone had their problems and wanted to be the first one to speek. Everyone thought she or he had the biggest problem of them all.

But the old woman picked up a bag and a some sheets of paper. Everybody wrote down their problem and put the paper in the bag.

«Now send around the bag», she said, when everyone was ready. «Now pick one paper out of the bag and read the problem on it. Then you can choose if you want to change to that problem or keep your own.»

In turn, the participants took a paper from the bag and read terrified about the others’ problems. And they all choosed to keep their own problem that now seemed easier to solve. They thanked the wise woman and went home before the fall of night. Everyone was happy to carry their own problem.

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