A Proverb On False Dilemmas

His head doesn’t hurt yet he ties it with fabric.

Local Oral Tradition

This proverb is used when a local is overthinking or anxious about things that are just not that big of a deal. It might also be used for someone perceived to be a bit of a drama queen or troublemaker. There are enough real problems, the local logic goes, so don’t go making a dilemma when one’s not really there. Pretend something is a problem long enough and it just may become one. It’s not far in meaning from another local proverb, “He makes a fly into a bull.”

The practice of tightly tying a strip of cloth or band around the head to treat headaches seems to be quite widespread. I remember elderly villagers doing this when I was a boy in Melanesia. It’s also practiced in our area of Central Asia. Last week we were watching Little Women, a story based in New England in the period of the Civil War, and the mother made mention of this same practice. To be practiced in such diverse contexts it must be effective – as long as there’s a real headache there to treat, that is.

Photo by أخٌ‌في‌الله on Unsplash

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