Fountain of Youth Vial #6 – Lower a Bucket!

I haven't seen M*A*S*H* in eons – this episode was written for me!

The members of MASH are celebrating “the Christmas they were supposed to be home by.” They were so very depressed.

In the midst of it, Father Mulcahey has messed up and slugged a soldier. He is depressed at his screw up.

Hawkeye tells him its OK, that everyone messes up.

Father Mulcahey says, “I'm not just supposed to say all that stuff, I'm supposed to do it.”

Hawkeye replies Father, get off your back!

Later on the Father is talking to himself and says I hang around on the edge of effectiveness…and wondered if he even made a difference.

He gets his answer when going to the mess tent. You see, the Father wanted to cheer up Major Winchester Burns and asked Radar to write home to Burn Winchester's mom and get something that would remind him of home. Burns Winchester opens a box under the tree and it is his Toboggan hat — the one he wore as a child and every Christmas as they sleighed.

Burns Winchester runs up to Father Mulchahey and hands him all of the money out of his wallet and exclaims:

“You saved me father! You lowered a bucket into the well of my despair and you raised me up to the light of day!

In the closing moments, we hear the Father say,

“It doesn't matter if you feel useful or not when you keep moving from one disaster to the next. The trick I guess is to just keep moving!”

We all face discouragement. We all have problems. We all have struggles! Sometimes we need to get off our back! Sometimes we feel like we hang around on the edge of effectiveness.

The truly great teachers lower a bucket into the well of despair and raise students and coworkers up to the light of day.

Let me ask you a question — How many compliments did you give today?

Let me ask you another question — How much time does it take to give a compliment?

Now the final question — What is your excuse?

It's not about receiving compliments. We are adults. We can handle it. We've had to “grow up.” We need to compliment each other, sure. But children's wells of despair can run much deeper than we adults give them credit for. Sometimes they cannot breathe. Sometimes they cannot function. Sometimes they can just wonder why on earth they were brought into our existence.

This is not about giving fake flattery — students can sense when you are insincere. This is about sincere, honest appreciation.

Get out your bucket and start encouraging! Get it out tomorrow! Count how many times you lower that bucket. Savor the youthful invigoration you feel as you see a child see the light of day through your encouragement and thoughtfulness.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Anonymous July 3, 2007 - 1:46 pm

Your quote from MASH is right except it is not Major Burns, it is Major Winchester who got the hat and said the quote. Larry Linville had been off the show at least 2 seasons by that point. Just thought you should know.

Vicki A. Davis July 7, 2007 - 1:21 pm


Sorry. In fact, this has been quite a while a go so I cannot recall the face. So, I’m going to take your word for it, it sounds like you follow Mash much more closely than I. Thanks for the information.

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