With Just a Little Thought

‘”I was on my way to Dictionopolis when I got stuck here,” explained Milo.  “Can you help me?”

“Help you! You must help yourself,” the dog replied, carefully winding himself with his left hind leg. “I suppose you know why you got stuck.”

“I guess I just wasn’t thinking,” said Milo.

“PRECISELY,” shouted the dog as his alarm went off again.  “Now you know what you must do.”

“I’m afraid I don’t,” admitted Milo, feeling quite stupid.

“Well,” continued the watchdog impatiently,”since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking.”  And with that, he hopped into the car.

“Do you mind if I get in?  I love automobile rides.”

Milo began to think as hard as he could (which was very difficult, since he wasn’t used to it).  He thought of birds that swim and fish that fly.  He thought of yesterday’s lunch and tomorrow’s dinner.  He thought of words that began with J and numbers that end in 3.  And, as he thought, the wheels began to turn.

“We’re moving, we’re moving,” he shouted happily.

“Keep thinking,” scolded the watchdog.

The little car started to go faster and faster as Milo’s brain whirled with activity, and down the road they went.  In a few moments they were out of the Doldrums and back on the main highway.  All the colors had returned to their original brightness, and as they raced along the road Milo continued to think of all sorts of things; of the many detours and wrong turns that were so easy to take, of how fine it was to be moving along, and, most of all, of how much could be accomplished with just a little thought.’

–from Norman Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth


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