The Hard Way

The Hard Way Cover

 

"Well, you've got two choices. We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way."

--Dr. Saunders, pediatrician, before giving me every shot I ever had as a child.

 

I don't remember Dr. Saunders very well. For some reason he looks kind of like Orville Redenbacher in my recollections of him. He also had a big, brusk nurse who must have modeled for Nurse Ratched at some point. He was an old man when he said these words to me. He was a young man when he said them to my mother for the first time. He was her pediatrician too. 

What I do remember about him was this saying. I think about it often.  I always chose the hard way, which involved a bear hug from Big Nurse, tears, and a lot of evasive squirming. I haven't really changed much as I've grown up. While I can now take a booster shot like a champ I still find myself choosing to do things the hard way.

I try not to judge. Some people are good at the easy way. I'd probably produce a lot more. I'd probably be less busy, work at a different job, and stress out a lot less. I don't think I would be very satisfied.

Somewhere in me there is a deep conviction that for every solution there is one right answer. I can't figure out what that right answer is until I've seen all the wrong answers. When I'm designing something new I have to spend an unconscionable amount of time creating God awful, over-designed messes before I get so tired of thinking about it that I just cut out all of the unnecessary crap.  Suddenly I'm left with the right answer, the bare bones of the idea, and I'm always surprised and annoyed by how simple of a solution it ended up being. 

This is why I hand stitch everything. It's stronger. It looks better. It's the right way. This is also why I hand dye everything instead of buying already dyed sides of leather. Because if I dye it myself I can control the color and make it look the way I think it should look. Make it look right. This is why I've spent months and months trying to formulate my own dye rather than sticking to the store bought stuff when store bought works just fine.  By making my own I can control it better. I can be sure that I'm not spreading harmful chemistry onto something that people touch everyday. I can make it from locally sourced ingredients. I can make it naturally. I can do it the right way.

I've never figured out if the hard way is the right way, or if I'm just taking the hard way to get to the right answer.  I know that when I find the right answer it comes with a feeling of conviction. I know that in all the time I've spent learning from the wrong ways I've built a foundation for something that may not be perfect (nothing ever is) but is on the right path.  I feel like it takes all the little right pieces from all the wrong answers to build something that is right.

So I might always be the Tortoise and not the Hare. I might miss out on some perceived opportunities because I'm being stubborn. I probably spend more hours being frustrated and less hours sleeping than I should. In the end I'll always choose the hard way with the right answer. That is good enough for me.