52 WEEKS

Week 12— The Easy Way or the Hard Way

Either way, we’re gonna learn

52 Weeks
3 min readSep 26, 2021

--

There’s only two ways to learn something.

We can learn something the easy way, or we can do what I did → screw around until life kicked the royal crap out of me, and taught it to me the hard way.

Either way… we’re going to learn.

The problem is, when we’re young, learning something the easy way looks like the hard way. And learning something the hard way looks like the easy way.

Ain’t life grand?

So, how do we learn something the “easy way”?

The easiest of the easy ways is just to listen to others. Parents… teachers… the Dali Lama.

Another easy way is to follow the rules. Especially when we’re young. Just follow the damn rules.

That was always my problem. I thought the rules were wrong, or made no sense, or that I knew better.

Whoops.

I was good at obeying my parents- which is how I got away with so much stuff- but the rest of it? I thought was negotiable.

Nope.

There are three (3) things we can do with rules: follow them, bend them, or break them.

Some rules are bogus and need to be broken.

But most of them are there for a reason. Usually because something bad happened.

Alright, new rule, no smoking by the gas pumps.

And just because we don’t understand a rule doesn’t mean the rule is wrong. We just don’t know the reason for it yet. We can either allow for that now, or we can break the rule, and find out the reason for it later.

Oh, so THAT’S why I wanted to do my homework. I was setting up habits I would have for the rest of my life. Who knew??

Quentin Tarantino broke all the rules of cinema, but I guarantee you he didn’t do it until he knew and understood the rules inside and out. Tarantino became an expert on the rules.

Because until we at least attempt to follow the rules, we’re not really gonna know which rules can be bent, or broken… or need to be followed at all costs.

And the hardest of the easy ways, but so important, is to get ourselves a marketable skill, or college degree, or quality job experience.

Without at least one of those, we’re going to have a tough time of it. I had none of them.

I know when we’re young, learning a skill or getting a degree seems like a lot of time and effort. Hard to do, with no payoff in sight.

But it’s not. You know what IS hard? Manual labor is hard. Hunger or poverty or being at everyone’s mercy our whole life. That’s hard.

If I could go back, I’d listen to my teachers like nobody you ever seen. I’d do my homework, I’d be humble, I’d follow the rules, and I’d get my degree. But I can’t go back. None of us can. All we can do is pick up the pieces and move on.

And finally, learning something the hard way is not the same thing as learning from our mistakes.

Mistakes are awesome, they’re what makes us who we are. And learning from our mistakes is a great way to learn.

A mistake is an opportunity.

Learning something the hard way? That’s a missed opportunity.

AFTERTHOUGHTS

— A good way to learn stuff is to find a person who has failed and ask him/her what they wish they would have done differently. Just make sure to pack a lunch.

— I still have my second grade report card. The teacher wrote on the back: “Rules are made for everyone but Brett — does just opposite of what he’s told.”

Not even eight years old, and my failure die was cast.

--

--