Not Too Easy

I have always been the sort of person who prefers the easy route.  I remember when my high school English class was studying the works of the Romantic poets, and our teacher asked us each to write a poem that incorporated nature, human suffering, and religion as our homework assignment.  While others in the class complained about having to write a poem, I whipped out my pen and paper and immediately wrote mine:

  Looking out my window,

I see the rain has gone;

In the sky, there’s a rainbow,

And it’s time to mow the lawn!

I often wonder as I mow,

straining over the sod,

“why don’t we just let it grow?”

It was put there, you know, by God!


I don’t remember the rest of it, but it went on along those lines for at least another two stanzas.  I thought it was funny, and even read it out loud to the rest of the class.  So I was shocked when one of my friends in the class after mine told me that the teacher had said that if I turned that poem in, I would receive a “D.”  Not about to let the teacher get the best of me, I went home and spent a couple of hours writing a poem about a drug addict dying of an overdose in a weed-strewn alley.  I got an “A” on that poem, and that same friend reported that the teacher actually read it to their class, even crying a little at the end. (Served her right, I thought.)

I’m still not sure that my first poem deserved a “D”  (hadn’t the teacher ever heard of satire?), or that my second poem deserved an “A” (it was deliberately melodramatic).  But I do know that I put a lot more effort into the second one, and that I wouldn’t have bothered to write it if my friend hadn’t told me the teacher hated my first one.  Which is a pattern that I have repeated throughout my life.

I may prefer it when my life is easy, when things are going along just fine with minimal effort on my part,  but those are rarely the times when I accomplish anything worth doing.     It’s almost always during the hard times in my life when I discover just exactly what I am capable of doing, and that’s often a lot more than I thought.

I spent most of my life fainting at the sight of blood, and thought that meant I would always be useless in any kind of medical emergency.  But the first time my daughter  fell off her bike and came running to me, dripping blood, I managed to wipe away her tears and clean and bandage her wounds without getting the slightest bit dizzy.  I tend to be impatient and a little claustrophobic, but the time our plane sat on the runway for six hours waiting for permission to take off taught me that I really do have the ability to sit patiently in tight quarters for as long as I need to.  And the succession of “fixer-uppers” that my husband and I have bought and lived in has taught me that I can work harder and longer than I had ever thought possible.  If we had been able to afford a “move-in ready” house, I would probably still believe I could never acquire any rehabbing skills.

So while I will probably always prefer the easy life, I think it is also a good thing that the easy life is not always the life I lead.  Life’s hardships, both big and small, push me to test my limits and discover strengths that I never knew I had.  And in the end, that makes the hard times worth it.

23 thoughts on “Not Too Easy

  1. What a wonderful post Ann. I agree with you that having to work hard for anything, be it a piece of writing, an assignment, a home, makes us appreciate the end result so much more. By the way I enjoyed your first poem! 🙂

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  2. That moment must have really made an impact on you to remember the first AND second poem you wrote. Looking back, don’t you think the teacher should have seen the GENIUS in your first poem? 🙂

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  3. I completely agree that a bit of hardship can certainly give people a necessary prod to get them to produce their best work. I also think it’s a little dangerous to always get things easily. Sometimes people who have have never had to work for anything don’t properly value the things that they have.

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  4. I find whatever that hard job is, I dread beginning it, but once I start, it’s hard to stop. Packing to move would be one of those things. 😉 If your teacher truly said that about the D that’s shameful, but of course we will never know. I thought it was clever and fun and funny. 🙂

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    • Thanks! I don’t think she meant it as a slam, but I think she was unhappy that I just wrote it out so quickly, because she wanted us to work on our poems, Instead, I just came up with a fun one. But, as you say, I’ll never know what was really said or why.
      Like you, I usually dread the hard stuff until I get into it…. then it’s not so bad after all!

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  5. “I may prefer it when my life is easy, when things are going along just fine with minimal effort on my part, but those are rarely the times when I accomplish anything worth doing.”

    There is wisdom in that – but I have often found that when things get easy, it is the result of all the hard work that preceded it.

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  6. This post reminds me of the framed quote that I kept on my desk at work: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Having reached middle-age I can attest to the fact that without pain & discomfort, there’s no growth.

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  7. Well, I think your first poem deserved an “A” also, Ann. I agree that anything really worthwhile in life is probably not going to come easy. When I was a kid my parents always said that hard work “builds character.” I guess they knew what they were talking about.

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  8. Love the post, Ann. You’re right, of course about taking the easy way until you’re pushed to alter or adjust your thinking. But your original poem, in some ways should have been enough. You put a different kind of spin on what you wanted to present. The problem is teachers usually like and gravitate toward angst and never appreciate humor. But if it taught you a lesson….:)
    Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!!

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    • I think I agree with that point of view! We do need both experiences, and they do help us appreciate both the easy times and the hard times. Thanks, Sheryl!


  9. Yes, when times and things get difficult, that’s generally when we find our push and our strengths rather than sailing right through without a care. For myself, if anyone saw me on a day to day basis, they wouldn’t realise that, in emergency, I turn into a completely different person. I tend to cope much better than I expect, when something happens. And so many different experiences help shape us, too – the easy ones rarely if ever do that.

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    • I agree completely! Sometimes we earn the easy times, and we do enjoy them, but they never push us to see what we are truly capable of. And, as you say, the hard times help shape our character.

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