The assignment seemed simple. Mrs. Lyons wanted each member of the class to find an old adage and present it to the class the next day. Herb thought this was an easy assignment since it did not involve writing or spelling. Additionally, his father was regularly using old adages. (At the time, Herb did not realize that most of the old adages his father used had been modified.) Mrs. Lyons gave several examples of old adages for those who were not familiar with the term.
The next day, Herb was the first to volunteer since this was an assignment that he knew he was going to ace. He was going to use one of his father’s favorite adages. He was called on and got up in front of the class.
“If wishes were horses, we would have a lot of horses starving to death.”
Mrs. Lyons said, “No, that is wrong. If wishes were horses, every beggar would ride.”
Herb sat down as the entire class laughed at him for failing so miserably after being so sure he could ace the assignment.
Herb learned that people think at different levels and that most people practice a very shallow form of thinking.
Several days later Mrs. Lyons made the comment in class that while Herb’s old adage was not the one that was often heard and was written down in many books, it showed a much deeper level of thinking since it considered that there would be no food to feed all of the horses that would be wished up so, yes, there would be mass starvation among the wished-up horses. There would be thousands of dead horses in every town. It was not an old adage, but it was very true.
After that, Herb never let it bother him when he found that he was thinking on a much deeper level than those with whom he associated.