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the stale marshmallow

posted in: Aging, World Views 0

Remember the marshmallow test?  It still comes up in casual reference.  Forty years ago, a Stanford researcher put a marshmallow in front of a small child, and basically said “Don’t touch it, I have to leave the room.” The ability to delay gratification was linked to all kinds of positive life outcomes.  I would have eaten that darn marshmallow.  Delayed gratification has never been my strong suit.

What about the test that asks a kid who can barely swim to jump in the deep end?  What about the challenge to make something great from miscellaneous leftovers (scraps of cloth, of food, of memories)?  What about timing how fast you get up after you fail—from a relationship, a job, from grace?

Delay is relative, too.  My first job, they said, was only funded for a year.  A year?  I’d never had a job for a year.  I signed a one-year lease for my first apartment, an unfathomable commitment.

Now, of course, time slips away like grandma on icy steps (sorry, it’s why I moved from Minnesota).  I feel the punishment of the calendar; how much longer can I walk that far?  Write a book?  Remember to pay the bills? Do I get ten days, twenty years, or more?  I won’t bore you with the list of things I can’t do; I won’t tell you mine, if you won’t tell me yours. 

They’ve debunked that marshmallow test, by the way.  Nobody likes stale marshmallows.

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