Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The problem tree

Author: Paulo Coelho

By Paulo Coelho

The carpenter finished another day’s work. As it was the weekend, he decided to invite a friend to come back home with him for a drink.
When he got to his house and before they went in, the carpenter stood for a few moments in silence before a tree growing in his garden. Then he touched its branches with both hands.
The expression on his face changed completely. He went into the house, smiling; he was greeted by his wife and children; he told them stories; and then he went out onto the verandah with his friend for a drink.
They could see the tree from there. Curiosity got the better of his friend and he asked the carpenter to explain his earlier behaviour.
‘Oh, that’s my problem tree,’ said the carpenter. ‘I know that I’m bound to have problems at work, but those problems are mine, not my wife’s or my children’s. So, when I get home, I hang all my problems on that tree. The next day, before leaving for work, I pick them up again. The oddest thing is, though, that when I come out in the morning to get them, some of them have gone, while others seem much heavier than they were the previous night.’

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