The More Unattainable… the More Coveted Something Is…

Dear Reader:

You might remember a couple of weeks ago I was talking about re-acquainting myself with Mark Twain …having missed his witticisms and stories… especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This time, as I scrolled back through the chapters… I remembered Mark Twain ‘s reflections on the story decades after writing it …suggesting that one of life’s best lessons is found in the whitewashing fence episode.

And isn’t it true… just hearing the title of the book and Tom Sawyer’s name, our memory immediately pulls up one scene , above all the others, when Tom uses his ” Brer Rabbit” cleverness to persuade others to do something he, himself, doesn’t want to do.

Today we might call it ” reverse psychology ” … it worked then and still works today.”

Aunt Polly told Tom he had to paint the whole fence -a long one… Tom was miserable and trying to figure out an escape from this daunting tedious chore when Ben came along poking fun at him… so Tom began to make grandeur strokes and talk about how fun it was but he was the only one Aunt Polly trusted… because he was an exceptional painter. Just not “anyone”could do this job. Only him!

Soon Ben is begging to get a chance to paint the fence and even offers Tom fruit-apples-in exchange for his turn. As more neighborhood boys gather… both Ben and Tom ( now watching) continue with the fun talk describing the high expertise they have -after all one must be an exceptional painter for this job.

Tom’s “fishing” skills come into play as he expertly catches more help to paint the fence. Soon the boys run home and return with toys ( kites , marbles, etc. …) to exchange with him- if they can please have a turn at painting Aunt Polly’s fence!

By the end of the episode … Aunt Polly has ended up with a freshly painted white fence… covered with three coats of paint… while Tom eats apples and shoots marbles.

Mart Twain explained the psychology behind the funny episode… ” Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

How true this is! Think of the people ( in your life) you know who work in difficult situations and jobs but you never hear them complain. Instead they find ways to lighten their loads with humor and camaraderie. Turning work into play… serious ” play” but commendable work ethics that affect their colleagues positively!

So until tomorrow…

Yesterday I put my sign up on the porch that said ” I’m in the Garden”. … and I was!

Cleaned off all the dead moonflower vines-getting ready to plant the seeds… but as I peeked through the bare trellis… there were the azaleas popping out behind it… beauty everywhere!

This photo yesterday made me tear up… but happy tears. It was hashtag-love my dog -day… and seeing this senior citizen dog find his forever home screamed Hope and Love collectively!

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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1 Response to The More Unattainable… the More Coveted Something Is…

  1. Rachel Edwards says:



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