The Eternal Classroom of the School of Hard Knocks

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By Linda Clearwater, Marketing Department

I’ve been to a few schools in my day, and I’ve graduated with a certificate or degree from all of them; except one. The School of Hard Knocks, or The School of Life, as it is also known, is a never-ending learning experience. Oh sure, I have learned many lessons from this school. A few are:

  1. Never twirl with a monkey on your head.

Monkeys don’t like this activity. They will certainly try to grab hold of anything sticking out of your head such as hair, ears, lips, flared nostrils, eyelids; well, you get the ugly picture. They are also bound to leave you a parting gift, as they literally get the monkey doodie scared out of them. I learned this lesson at the age of six when I put our squirrel monkey, Sammy, on my head and gave him my version of a carousel ride. Messy Hard Knock – Lesson Learned. I can honestly say I never again put a monkey anywhere near my head.

2. Ignoring a problem doesn’t necessarily make it go away.

After ignoring the dishes piling up in the sink for a few days. I realized there were no clean dishes on which to put my food. For that matter, there were no pots in which
to cook said food. By the time I stopped ignoring the problem of dirty dishes, I had an even bigger problem. I had a dirty, cluttered, smelly kitchen with no clean pots, pans, dishes or counter space. And it took a regrettably long time to clean it up. Hard knock – Lesson learned. Cleaning up a few dishes each day is so much easier.

3. Ignoring a person may make them go away.

Sadly, with busy schedules and not enough time to do everything, I have not paid enough attention to all the people I should. Sadder still, we have lost touch and I miss them. Hard Knock – Lesson Learned. Make the time to keep in touch.

4. There are only 24 hours in a day and that includes sleep.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work that I tend to forget that sleep is a necessity if I want to function properly throughout the next day. I used to work until the wee hours and then sleep for one or two hours, at the most, get up and carry on. I can tell you, lack of sleep adds up. While once trying to complete a deadline for a book about Noah’s Ark, I worked this schedule for a few days straight. On the third day of this schedule, I fell asleep while drawing an illustration containing zebras; however, my brain was too tired to tell my hand to stop the drawing process. The zebra stripes I had been rendering were no longer just on the zebra. When I woke up, slumped over my drawing, the grass, the sheep, the elephants and even Noah, all had stripes, too. I had to redraw the entire illustration. Wasteful Hard Knock – Lesson Learned. Sleep is a good thing. Even on a deadline.

5. Speeding can get you in trouble.

You can get a ticket. Hard Knock – Lesson Learned. Enough said.

6. Elevator doors don’t always sense that something is in them.

School of Hard Knocks

A Framed Moment from the School of Hard Knocks

One day in college I tried to show a fellow classmate who had a fear of the elevator doors closing on her that, indeed, this could never happen because there were sensors in the door that would make the doors open if they closed on something.
She sprinted into the elevator, as usual, and as the doors started to close, I stuck my arm in the narrowing gap. I’m not sure who screamed louder as the elevator started its descent and my arm was lifted over my head, stuck in what I now considered the jaws of death. Visions of trying to do things one-handed ran through my head. Finally the doors did sense that I was there, probably, because I was struggling like a panic-stricken animal in a spring trap. But they didn’t open until the elevator had dropped a few feet and I had a nasty gash on my arm. Painful and Scary Hard Knock – Lesson Learned. I never stuck my arm in the elevator doors again. Alas, I’m not sure if my friend ever rode in the elevator again. We’ve lost touch.

Teaching someone a lesson through personal example can sometimes backfire. See above.Cartoons do not imitate life. Did you ever see one of those cartoons where one of the characters gets wound-up in a rope, and the other character pulls the rope to make the first character spin like a top?

When we were children, a friend and I tested this theory and found out it doesn’t really happen that way. Oh, it worked fine for the first half of a spin, but then she went down like a hobbled elephant on a steep slope, knocked her head on the outdoor fireplace and sustained a concussion. Hard, Hard Knock – Lessons Learned. I learned not to wrap people up in rope and try to spin them like a top. My friend learned not to trust me so much. And we both learned not to believe everything you see on TV.

When I graduated from traditional schools, I received certificates and degrees that I could proudly frame. No certificates or degrees were ever handed to me upon the completion of my “Lesson Learned” in the School of Hard Knocks. But I think in many ways, these lessons learned are more valuable to me than the scholastic lessons. Life doesn’t just hand me a degree and say, “See ya. We’re done. Good luck.” It will keep teaching me until the day I die.

School of Hard Knocks – Embossed Gallery Diploma Frame

I am proud of my achievements in the School of Hard Knocks. So maybe, in addition to framing degrees, I should frame symbolic representations or photographs or collages of those moments in which I’ve learned so much from life. I could frame a picture of my monkey, Sammy. I could take a picture of all of my friends in an elevator, arms safely inside the doors. That would be a dual degree. I could frame my speeding ticket, or a piece of the rope that gave my friend a concussion. I could make a wall of life and include not only my lessons learned, but those of my children as well. With a single glance, I’d remember my family’s stories and also the lessons learned.

Life here on Earth is finite, but there are so many things I want to see, and do, and learn. Hard Knocks or not, I will embrace it, love it, learn from it, and be grateful for the chance to be a part of it. As I get older, I may forget what I have learned in my formal education. Square roots and historical dates don’t really have much of a place in my day-to-day life. Life lessons will carry me through it all with their practical, humorous, and bittersweet wisdom.

There are so many more lessons that I have learned, that it would take another lifetime to tell you. But I am sure that many of you have life lessons you could share. And since life lessons can sometimes be learned through the mistakes of others, we’d love to hear about them. If you have a life lesson you would like to share with us, please tell us. And if you’d like to preserve your life lesson, please visit our School of Hard Knocks page to frame that special “Hard Knock” memory, so you don’t forget.

If life lessons teach you anything, it’s keeping organized! Other items from the School of Hard Knocks…

School of Hard Knocks Desk Box School of Hard Knocks Letter Sorter

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