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The University of Hard Knocks - Chapter 1

Chapter I

The Books Are Bumps

THE greatest school is the University of Hard Knocks. Its books are bumps.

Every bump is a lesson. If we learn the lesson with one bump, we do not get that bump again. We do not need it. We have traveled past it. They do not waste the bumps. We get promoted to the next bump.

But if we are "naturally bright," or there is something else the matter with us, so that we do not learn the lesson of the bump we have just gotten, then that bump must come back and bump us again.

Some of us learn to go forward with a few bumps, but most of us are "naturally bright" and have to be pulverized.

The tuition in the University of Hard Knocks is not free. Experience is the dearest teacher in the world. Most of us spend our lives in the A-B-C's of getting started.

We matriculate in the cradle.

We never graduate. When we stop learning we are due for another bump.

There are two kinds of people--wise people and fools. The fools are the people who think they have graduated.

The playground is all of God's universe.

The university colors are black and blue.

The yell is "ouch" repeated ad lib.

The Need of the Bumps

When I was thirteen I knew a great deal more than I do now. There was a sentence in my grammar that disgusted me. It was by some foreigner I had never met. His name was Shakespeare. It was this:

"Sweet are the uses of adversity; Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a priceless jewel in its head; And thus our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything."

"Tongues in trees," I thought. "Trees can't talk! That man is crazy. Books in running brooks! Why nobody never puts no books in no running brooks. They'd get wet. And that sermons in stones! They get preachers to preach sermons, and they build houses out of stones."

I was sorry for Shakespeare--when I was thirteen.

But I am happy today that I have traveled a little farther. I am happy that I have begun to learn the lessons from the bumps. I am happy that I am learning the sweet tho painful lessons of the University of Adversity. I am happy that I am beginning to listen. For as I learn to listen, I hear every tree speaking, every stone preaching and every running brook the unfolding of a book.

Children, I fear you will not be greatly interested in what is to follow. Perhaps you are "naturally bright" and feel sorry for Shakespeare.

I was not interested when father and mother told me these things. I knew they meant all right, but the world had moved since they were young, and now two and two made seven, because we lived so much faster.

It is so hard to tell young people anything. They know better. So they have to get bumped just where we got bumped, to learn that two and two always makes four, and "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

But if you will remember some of these things, they will feel like poultices by and by when the bumps come.

The Two Colleges

As we get bumped and battered on life's pathway, we discover we get two kinds of bumps--bumps that we need and bumps that we do not need.

Bumps that we bump into and bumps that bump into us.

We discover, in other words, that The University of Hard Knocks has two colleges--The College of Needless Knocks and The College of Needful Knocks.

We attend both colleges.

On To Chapter 2...


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