Chicago is a city I can learn things from. This is something I considered at 7:30 this morning at a Humboldt park ATM
But learning is fundamentally an uncomfortable, abrasive, and unappealing enterprise. And despite what parents chide in matter-of-fact voices on the linoleum floors of kitchens in every milk-splashed corner of the world it is not functionally reasonable to ask anyone to learn anything from anyone else’s mistakes. It may not be a golden rule but it’s at very least a silver one.
So I have to be ready to make my own.
Because I am a categorizer, I’ll outline what you need in order to make one of these learning mistakes.
One. You have to invest. To step over that cliff you have to lean forward. You have to put one foot in front of the other and you have to let go. Having kids is a classic investment into becoming a learning machine. And loving them means sometimes loving their friends. There yet? You’ve invested.
Two. You have to believe. Belief, as a word, gets a bad rap. Why does belief in some ephemeral god and belief in the integrity of your son’s friend have to rely on the same word? He’s there. I can see him. And when he tells me that he needs money to pay someone or he’ll get hurt there is a choice. It doesn’t feel like a religion, but it does feel like the wind rising up from the bottom of the cliff - like falling.
And Three. You have to know that acting and not acting are the same thing. To not hand him those bills is an act just as physical and real as the 20s in your hand right now. And to not give a lecture is a decision just as much as it is to walk down North Avenue conjuring up some vapid, meandering disquisition– stoically trying to wish away that silver rule.
It’s a beautiful day today and I may have made a mistake. But it was made out of love. I might rethink that tomorrow through time and distance but that’s fine. The me I’ll find tomorrow is a learning machine.
About the author: Jim Marcus (@mutilato) is SVP, Director of Communication Innovation at DDB Chicago, Typographer and lead singer for the band Go Fight. He loves his children.
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