My favorite book: The University of Hard Knocks by Ralph Parlette

The University of Hard Knocks
by Ralph Parlette

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I found this book years ago on the shelves of the Grub Street Bookshop on Brunswick Street. To this day, I cannot tell you how I came to own it. I don’t know what drew me to it – it wasn’t on a shelf at eye level, I had to crouch down to find it. It was tattered and torn and faded and old. It had no blurb to pique my interest, nor pictures. But as soon as I saw it’s broken spine and gently pulled it from the shelf, I knew it was mine. Is that weird, to feel a connection to a book? Probably. But I am a bit weird, so I’ll own it.

I took it to the counter and paid $5.00 for it. How could I have known then that $5.00 note would change my life, would change my soul, irrevocable and irreversibly? How could I make such a huge investment in myself and my life for only $5.00? Is that fate? Do you believe in fate? Do I?

It took me all of about 2 days to read it cover to cover. I was completely transfixed. This was the book I needed. The universe knew I needed it.

This first page, these first few lines, had me hook, line and sinker. Not long after reading and re-reading and re-re-reading the book, I ended up getting that line tattooed on my arm: “Every bump is a lesson.”

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Basically, this book came to be from Ralph Parlette’s lecture “The University of Hard Knocks.” This is, as far as I’m concerned, the ultimate users guide for life. There’s no other way to describe this book, and it’s almost impossible to summarise or review. Instead, let me show you some of my favourite quotes from this book (it’s damn near impossible to select a few, the entire book is one perfect quote) that’ll open your eyes, heart and soul, and teach you a few things about really living your life…

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I used to say, “Nobody uses me right. Nobody gives me a chance.” But if chances had been snakes, I would have been bitten a hundred times a day. We need oculists, not opportunities.

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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.

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“Ralph Parlette,” I said to myself, “when are you going to learn to see as well as that blind man? He learns his lesson with one bump, and you have to go bumping into the same things day after day and wonder why you have so much ‘bad luck’!”

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All over America are fathers and mothers who have struggled and have become strong men and women thru their struggles, who are saying, “Our children shall have better chances than we had. We are living for our children. We are going to give them the best education our money can buy.” Then, forgetful of how they became strong, they plan to take away from their children their birthright—their opportunity to become strong and “prepared”—through struggle and service and overcoming.

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Trust me, if you read not a single thing more for the rest of your life, you do need to read this book. It should be compulsory reading for every single human being. If you can’t find a magic copy like I did, you can buy a newer one here, or alternatively thank the good people at Gutenberg.org for recognising how completely important this text is and providing a free copy you can read online.

 

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9 thoughts on “My favorite book: The University of Hard Knocks by Ralph Parlette

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