I've worked with children for years. Within those years I have been exposed to several legendary children's stories. The most familiar being The Three Little Pigs. What catches my attention about this particular story are the many different versions that exist. Sometimes, the wolf has dialogue. Sometimes, he fails to get to the pigs. Sometimes, he eats the two pigs with unstable housing. Sometimes, they all survive in the last little pigs brick house. The only idea that I've noticed remains the same in all of the versions of this story that I have read are the materials used for building their three houses. Straw, Sticks and Bricks.
What's the metaphor here? What's the moral lesson in The Three Little Pigs? The beautiful concept in children's books is that, majority of the time, they are designed with a greater lesson in mind. I, even as an adult, often scan through Dr. Seuss books and quotes for inspiration. The simple moral lesson of the three little pigs is "patience and preparation". In more detailed versions of this story we are told that the last pig, building his house of brick, took the longest to finish. While the others hastefully threw their houses together. We all know what happened next. In one particularly realistic version, I read that the wolf consumed the first two pigs on his way to the third. Terrifying. I've always wondered which children actually understood the moral of this story and which children inevitably grew a fear of wolves.
The more I read this story, I began to interpret it a little different than intended. I took this to be a story about experience. In the beginning of the story of The Three Little Pigs, mother pig decides that it is time for her children to set off and build houses of their own. That part is self explanatory. Here's where my mind differs. I imagine these three pigs only being one.
Maybe, the first pig who received straw from the very first man they came across is a metaphor for our anxious mind when we enter into the real world for the first time. We are bound to run into wolves strong enough to break through our inexperience. As we learn, we decided to build our house of sticks. Better than we were before, but only because we have only experienced a wolf strong enough to break through straw. As the story goes, once again we are blown down. Finally, we take our time. The most time we've taken to assure ourselves that this time we will not be defeated. Success!
My mind starts running in circles after interpreting this story this way. I look at people who often give me advice and determine whether their houses are built of straw, sticks or bricks. Then taking a look at their accomplishments, I decide what materials I would like to build my next house out of. Oh, what a world it would be if life were this simple. We could eventually get to our brick house and live happily ever after. The wonderful thing about this disadvantage is that we never stop experiencing. We never stop collecting materials. We never stop building.
Study what others in your craft are building their houses out of. What materials have you been using? How do you interpret the story of The Three Little Pigs? What experiences taught you to build your house stronger?
"The wonderful thing about this disadvantage is that we never stop experiencing. We never stop collecting materials. We never stop building."