Why is it important to see different possibilities?

“Aah chooo!”

One day, a young wizard came to see the Soup Witches to ask their help in pleading his good friend’s case. He felt that she had received unfair treatment at her workplace.

“She just went away for ONE day. Just one! She couldn’t help not informing anyone, it was an emergency! Her chiefs came down very hard on her. It’s not fair! Such discrimination! I’ll get her to sue her workplace!” They could hear every exclamation mark as the wizard spoke.

To help him calm down, the witches invited the young man to have some of their soothing herbal cucumber soup (they always had a cauldron brewing, naturally.)

After several sips, the young wizard’s ears turned back to their natural color. One of the witches then asked him, “How often has your friend gone off in a similar fashion?” His ears turned bright red again as he answered. “She was away sick only a few times before, but she was too ill to inform anyone! She gave her explanation when she went back to work; surely those explanations were reasonable. Whatever possessed her seniors to ask her to provide an official scroll of explanation over individual instances that she had already explained? What horrid, insensitive, red tape-loving imbeciles!” He exclaimed, spewing cucumber soup as he spoke.

The witches listened. After a short while, one of them asked him – “What if you came home from visiting us today and found the front door left ajar. What could be a possible explanation?” The wizard thought about it. “My wife, in her hurry to leave the house, could’ve forgotten to see that she hadn’t shut the door completely.”

The questions (& his answers) continued:

“And what if…

…a light is on, that wasn’t on when you left the house?”
“I rushed here earlier. I could’ve been distracted. Maybe I thought I had switched it off, but in fact, I hadn’t.”

…there are muddy footprints inside the house?”
“The children could’ve brought their friends in and didn’t take their shoes off.”

…the living room is in a mess?”
“The children were playing their favorite hide, seek and hex game there.”

…your deluxe turbo-flier broomstick is not at its stand?”
“My wife could’ve used it & meant to tell me after she’s done with it.”

“Indeed,” said the witches. “Each of the individual circumstances has a possible AND plausible explanation.” The young wizard nodded, pleased with his quick thinking.

“But when you view the facts together, like in a collection, what do you see?” They asked him.

The wizard started to scoff at the witches, then he closed his mouth and just looked at them. The circumstances started marching across his mind:

What if I came home from here today and found –

  • The front door left ajar.
  • A light is on, that wasn’t on when I left the house.
  • There are muddy footprints inside the house
  • The living room is in a mess.
  • My deluxe turbo-flier broomstick is not at its stand.

“Oh no!” He cried. “Someone broke into the house and stole my turbo-flier!”

The witches didn’t look surprised at the outburst. “Looks like you saw a different possibility after viewing the facts as a collection, didn’t you?” The wizard returned their gaze with defiant eyes. “Still, that may not be the correct explanation.” The witches agreed. “Perhaps, but haven’t you now discovered a different possibility that is worth exploring?” The wizard was silent for a long minute before nodding his head. One of the witches asked, “Knowing what you know now, is it completely beastly and unjust for your friend’s supervisors to ask her for an official explanation to her latest case of absence?” He was silent for another long minute before replying. “No, I guess not. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they don’t ask her to explain her actions.”

The witches smiled & they all finished their soup while chatting about how he can help his friend face her inquiry in a calm and dignified way.

As the witches cleared the dishes afterwards, they all hoped for a positive ending to the young witch’s story.

And that’s a good thing to hope for, isn’t it?


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