There was once an old woman who, one day, was feeling very sorry for herself. Her husband had recently died and she was also thinking of her many children, of whom two had also died. She thought about what a terrible thing it was to outlive your children. Many of her children still lived and she knew that she had lived a good, if hard, life. But her self-pity was strong and she felt doubly bad for this indulgence. She decided to go to the market and, there, perhaps lose herself in the bustle and noise of the crowd. Once in the market her spirits did begin to lift when she noticed a pot-seller's table and remembered that she needed a new pot. On the front of the table was a nice, shiny new pot the exact shape and size that she needed.
She asked the price and the potseller said, "For that pot, four kopeks."
Yes, thought the woman. It is a lovely new pot and too expensive. She looked over the table and, to one side, saw another pot, a little smaller but still good for her purposes. It looked old but it would do.
"For that pot, five kopeks," said the potseller.
The woman was surprised and said, "But I don't understand. How could that pot be more expensive than this nice new one? I don't mean to embarrass you but, that pot looks used."
"Ah!" said the potseller and he lifted his hand and struck the old pot hard with his finger. The pot sent a musical note into the market air that stopped all those around who heard it until the sound dissipated into the morning air. "You see, we who make pots know that you do not judge a pot by the way that it looks but by the note that it sings."
"Oh, yes," said the old woman, smiling. "I knew that. I just forgot it for a moment."