Sow, so reap
I drove past a sign several days ago “whoever sows sparingly, also reaps sparingly.”
This formulation subverts the standard proverb, “as ye sow, so shall ye reap” in such a way that it’s stuck with me.
“so” provides a neutral frame. Somehow, my mind had filled in the blank generously: “work hard; get good results.” “be kind; others will be kind to you.” “plant a big garden; get a lot of crops.” “pay attention; gain knowledge.”
Until presented with a directly negative example (“sow sparingly; reap sparingly”), I had never considered the proverb “in its inverse”–I type, though the negative reading isn’t ‘its inverse’ at all! It’s equally implied by the original construction.
Hearing “sow sparingly, reap sparingly” repainted the proverb in a context that I hadn’t considered before. My immediate leap was “sow generously, reap generously.” I’ve now been spurred to plug in heretofore un-thought-of adverbs, and am finding unexpected riches in what I’d previously considered to be a well-worn phrase.