There is a farmers market every day in China — if farmers or people from a village have more produce than their family can eat, they often sell the excess at the market. One day, a housewife was taking a break from her daily routine and decided to visit the local farmers market.
She went up to a woman who was selling peppers and noticed that people often asked her whether the peppers were hot or not. No matter how the woman responded, half of the buyers would walk way. So the solution for the seller was to divide the peppers into two piles: one for hot peppers and one for mild.
The housewife next walked over to another woman who appeared to be a poorly educated peasant farmer. Unlike the woman she met earlier, this woman spread her peppers all over the table. The housewife asked her: “Why don’t you divide your peppers into two piles as did the lady in the other stall?” She just smiled and shook her heard.
When customers came by and asked her about the peppers, the farmer said:
“The dark ones are hotter.”
After hearing this, the customers did their buying and left happily. On that particular day, it just so happened that most people selected the lighter colored peppers over the dark. The housewife said to her: “You better divide your peppers into two piles or you may have trouble.” The farmer simply smiled and replied: “There is no need to do that.”
When more customers arrived and inquired about her peppers, she answered with confidence:
“The long peppers are hotter than the short ones.”
Eventually, only dark short peppers remained on the table. The housewife thought about what the woman might say to her customers now that only dark short peppers remained on the table. When a customer arrived and asked the woman about the peppers, she said to him:
“The tough ones are hotter, and the soft ones are milder.”
Of course, most peppers were getting soft after sitting under the hot sun all day.
When the farmer packed up her stand to get ready to leave, she told the housewife:
“Dividing the peppers into two piles is everyone’s solution, but only I knew the answer to what I did today.”
The housewife was surprised by her creativity and flexibility. She realized that while you can gain wisdom from books, to live only according to books may not be the best solution. Life is creative and flexible, so you need to live your life accordingly.
Translated by Yi Ming.
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