The Marshmallow Test

Working with wood has its pluses and minuses. Wood doesn’t talk back. It doesn’t question the direction you take. It doesn’t ask you how much this project is worth, how long it’s going to take, or when it’s due.

On the other hand, wood doesn’t laugh at your jokes, make you laugh, or light up when it gets where you’re headed with an idea. There are fewer surprises with wood – good and bad.

But if you treat it with care and attention, handle it with respect, in a few weeks or months you it gives you the gift of a finished project, something to admire and maybe take a little pride in. As the creator, you will always see the flaws, but you can also see the overall effect and that the beauty far outweighs those minute blemishes.

That distance between the ardour of the labour and the joy of the finished product, we call delayed gratification.

Working with people is entirely different. Certainly there are the immediate rewards: the laughter, a twinkle of recognition. But so much is never known. I’ve likened it to sending messages through a space/time warp, never knowing if those messages are ever read, or if read, understood.

Today I received this message from a student I have not seen or communicated with for 25 years:

“Mr. Deobald,
I saw your page on a comment and decided to message you. Just wanted you to know that you had a profound effect on my life and I remember you as a great teacher. I hope life is treating you well and you are still inspiring young people.
Thanks Again”

When you work with people, this is what qualifies as delayed gratification.

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