Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Friday, January 11, 2008


"Whether you think you can or think you can't- you are right."
-Henry Ford

I do enjoy the fabulous and clever Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel. In particular I have a fondness for the story 'Cookies,' one of rather human willpower and character-building.
Frog and Toad begin to enjoy some home-baked cookies that Toad made. Then they worry that they are eating too many too quickly. They discuss willpower, and Frog reasonably classifies it as "trying hard not to do something you really want to do."
The pair decide to have one last cookie- many times over. Finally, they stand up, almost ill. Something must be done. Frog puts the cookies into a box, ties a string around the box and puts the box on a hard-to-reach shelf. They soon discover, though, that willpower is not enough: they realise that if they want to, they can climb a ladder, fetch the box off the shelf, untie the string, open the box and remove the cookies, by which time they might easily eat the delicious snack.
I absolutely love Frog and Toad for its breathtaking simplicity: in the end, they throw all the cookies to the birds, crumbs and all. Toad is devastated and wanders home after telling his friend that he is giving up; lots and lots of willpower might be fine but Frog could 'keep it all.'
If it seems too easy, perhaps we are not practicing willpower fervently enough. We imagine that if we can reach the shelf and untie the string, there might be no point in so much as beginning a resolution.
How far should one go to avoid our Achilles' heel?
I have been known to, for example, give my selection of chocolate to my mother and ask her to hide it for me; under no circumstance was she to hand it over, no matter what I asked or how difficult I got. I am surprised that she even undertook this dangerous mission but, there again, bravery does come in all shapes and sizes.
It inevitably ended with my demanding the goods less than an hour later. If she did not weaken and give me what I wanted, I sought it out myself and would locate it within a couple of minutes.
Willpower is hard, not just when it comes to dangerous snacks but in all aspects of life: rising early, finishing a project or keeping calm when faced with heinous bad manners. As my Spouse wryly quipped once, "life is hard, isn't it?" Perhaps avoiding temptation is intended to be an uphill struggle and we will emerge all the better for it. But one does enjoy an honestly-earned cookie sometimes.

No comments:

Please look around, explore my writing, leave a crumb:
I welcome comments and thoughts.