The Ballerina Philosopher


The word problem has a problem.

It’s so bad, problem is in therapy.

Stretched out in lower case on the therapist’s couch, problem finally gets face to face with the problem.

“I had it all once you know…”

This moment of reflection comes after weeks of woes. It seems nobody loves problem any more. Some people want to cut problem up into halves whilst others simply travel miles out of their way in elaborate avoidance strategies. 

The therapist has heard more than once that problem gets shunned and avoided wherever it goes. People don’t want to spend their time with problem any longer.

Suddenly, just as the therapist is getting a bit bored and thinking about what to have for lunch, problem pipes up:

“You know, when I was born, I was a child of two much older, wiser words; “Pro” and “Ballein”.”

“I didn’t”, the therapist says, “Go on…”.

“My Father, Pro was a philosopher; himself born before his time. He liked to always look forward.

Ballein was a dancer. She threw herself bodily into motion; a coiled spring ready to pounce.

My parent’s union came about because they needed each other. Each had a lot to give but together they were formidable.

I was the embodiment of their coming together and was named in their honour.”

The therapist continues to look at problem curiously, inviting more. Problem continues.

“That coming together: “Pro-ballein” – Pro, the proposal forward and Ballein, the active throw – became my name.

I was, I am “Problem”.

Problem dwells on that thought for a moment, reconnecting with something, then a new idea comes.

“I guess that in me, action met thought, a kind of dreaming made real. I was a fresh idea, perfect for those times; a new concept of actively throwing a difficult question forward for resolution.

I had a wonderful childhood and early youth. In times of trouble, people sought me out and I made lots of friends. In a world of change I was popular. People knew that by spending time with me their questions became clearer. People then were prepared to change their beliefs in my company. I had a purpose and a role. I helped people. I miss that.

I never appreciated it then…  before I knew it, times changed and people became more fixed in their beliefs. I blamed them and I’ve been blaming everyone for that for a long time.

I’m afraid to say it but I must; I’m not proud. Success went to my head and I didn’t stay true or relevant to where I was really needed. I cashed in for an easy life. I regret allowing this to happen. I know now that I can’t blame others, for I too let fear take over. I pushed challenges away, feeling I didn’t need them any more. Fear made me lazy and conceited and I let others see the worst in me.

Now I can see that I need to change; to evolve and become the word I am truly capable of being.”

There’s a pause. 

Problem then cautiously smiles.

“I am proud of my name…….and if I am proud others will be too.

As I sit here re-living those times I can re-connect with who I really am. I can see a role for me once again in a world, which is once again full of difficulty and conflict.

I have not been popular for a while. I see that now. I have allowed myself to become depressed. This is entirely my own doing.

I needed to change and because I was not able to change, this was holding me back.

I feel ready now to move forward once again”

There’s a pause and the therapist simply asks


Problem looks out the window, then finally turns back to the therapist:

“I want to say,

I, “Problem”, am here to dance with you, “Question”, once again.

Together we can project forward into fresh possibility.

I am asking challenge and change to join us once again.

Together we will face our fears. Our fears will now guide and fuel us.”

“That is what I want to say”

“Well, you just have” the therapist says, leaning forward to shake hands with Problem.

 It seems the answer was here all along.