Play the Ball where the Monkey Drops It


Dear Reader:

How many times have we heard that it is not the amount of curve balls we receive during our lives that define us as individuals but it is our response to the curve balls…

While following this train of thought, the other day, I happened upon an article and later a book about this very subject using a true life experience that made me pause and ponder….

In Tara Brach’s (Ph.D) article ” – “It’s Not What’s Happening…It’s How You Respond” (Psychology Today)  she re-tells one of her favorite stories on this topic.

One of my favorite stories took place a number of decades ago when the English had colonized India and they wanted to set up a golf course in Calcutta. Besides the fact that the English shouldn’t have been there in the first place, the golf course was not a particularly good idea. The biggest challenge was that the area was populated with monkeys. 

The monkeys apparently were interested in golf too, and their way of joining the game was to go onto the course and take the balls that the golfers were hitting and toss them around in all directions.

Of course the golfers didn’t like this at all, so they tried to control the monkeys. First they built high fences around the fairway; they went to a lot of trouble to do this. Now since monkeys climb…they would climb over the fences and onto the course… That solution just didn’t work at all.

The next thing they tried was to lure the monkeys away from the course. I don’t know how they tried to lure them—maybe waving bananas or something—but for every monkey that would go for the bananas, all their relatives would become “new members” of  the golf course and join in all the fun.

In desperation, they started trapping them and relocating them, but that didn’t work, either. The monkeys just had too many relatives who liked to play with golf balls!

Finally, the golf club trustees caved in and established a novel rule for this particular golf course: The golfers in Calcutta had to play the ball wherever the monkey dropped it. At last those golfers were onto something!



To me…this amazing story reminds me of the popular manta: It is what it is.

The saying, itself, is fine and true to a point…unless the human response to it is one of self-defeat and self-victimization.

If “It is what it is” is said with a big shrug and a larger sigh (indicating a perception of  ‘being done unto’ by the world) it is of little value.

But if we look at situations as temporary and do-able over an extended period of time…we see the incident as only a “hiccup” along our path…and sometimes, like in this case, a very funny one.

Brach comments: “If we are to find any peace, if we are to find freedom, what we need to do is learn to pause and say, “Okay. This is where the monkeys dropped the ball. I’ll play it from here, as well as I’m able.” 

And if we can find a little humor in the situation…like creating a golf course where one plays the ball from where the monkeys drop it…well… like the old adage says…”If you can’t beat’em… join’em” works well too.” 

So until tomorrow….Let us dig deep when problems and difficult situations arise (and they will…such is life) and start to understand that God is giving us an opportunity to show the ‘spiritual stuff’ we are made of…Let’s make a good showing!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* With the Turners at Disney World…Tigger is staying home with Uncle Tommy and Aunt Kaitlyn… he appears to be just fine and doing his thing….eating and sleeping…and of course, that other thing.



* I love this old picture of mother and one of the dogs on the farm growing up ….on a visit back home after graduating from Winthrop College and starting work in North Carolina.


John sent this picture from Casey Junior Splash & Soak… Eva Cate is having a great time! A fun way to stay cool!



…and as far as Jakie goes…well, he’s just “bug-eyed” with excitement!



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Play the Ball where the Monkey Drops It

  1. Sis Hagen Kinney says:

    I’m coming on the blog late tonight (9:38pm) b/c Bobby and I are at the “Jersey shore” w/my cousin and her husband so, of course, I’m not in my “usual routine.” LOVED the story of the monkeys and the golf course!! “Play the ball where the monkey drops it!!” Love it! Inasmuch as Bobby is going to be playing golf again tomorrow with my other cousin, I’ll have to tell him that and see if he’s heard it before!
    Enjoying our vacation here, but still trying to read the blog every day!
    Much love,


    • Becky Dingle says:

      You and Bobby are some traveling nomads….loving it…Jersey Shore! I thought the story with the monkeys was cute too and made one pause and reflect.

      Thought of you today…Donna Clark must have stopped by while I was out and she dropped off the same NC magazine that you had discovered earlier and sent …and saw the St. Jude’s pictures too.

      Great minds think alike!

      Love, Becky


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