‘You’ll Only Learn Through Pain’

When my father saw that I was stuck in some self-destructive pattern and I wouldn’t listen to him, he’d often say to me, “Life is going to have some hard lessons for you. Perhaps you’ll only learn through pain.”

He was right. Life had some hard lessons for me and I mainly learned through pain.

The number one lesson I learned from life was that the 90-10-10 (carbs, fat, protein) vegetarian diet my father espoused was a disaster. Unfortunately, I only learned this in my 50s when I was too entrenched in my vegetarianism to change.

In June of 2021, I found beef organ capsules and all of my health problems went away in two weeks.

The number two lesson I learned from life was that I had untreated ADHD. I got this diagnosis in October of 2023 and within minutes of going on Adderall, my ADHD was effectively managed.

My father believed that the number one lesson I needed to learn in life was that Jesus Christ was my personal savior. This is one lesson I never learned. However, I did embrace God and Judaism in my 20s, but found that this solved almost nothing beyond my need for meaning.

My father called me out for insisting, without evidence, that I always knew better. He also detested my attention-seeking. In these two ways, we were terrifically alike. We both needed to be the star of the room and we both used hyperbole to get it.

Unlike my father, I had no stomach for the tedious tasks of life. “You have to take responsibility,” my parents would lecture me when failed repeatedly in life’s basics (including homework). I got fired from every job I held between 12 and 17 (about six) and earned mediocre grades at school. I lacked diligence and attention to detail in all things lacking excitement. At age 57, I was prescribed Adderall which made this problem go away.

To cope with the shame of repeated failure, I developed a hyperbolic sense of myself that was later diagnosed as narcissistic personality disorder. My father thought my fundamental problems were moral and theological. They turned out to be biochemical.

A Seventh Day Adventist Bible scholar wrote to me in 1998:

You father “knows” too much for me to tell him anything. Including about you. It will never happen.

…Knowing too much, summarizing too fast, summing up too quickly, is a weakness he has. It’s a way that you and he are terrifically alike.

…By the way, you enjoy controversy and driving people nuts way too much. Both of you. What is the blessing in “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Jesus knew at least as much about Judaism as you do….) Part of what makes you ill at ease in the self/world dichotomy is this approach toward the outside world as the enemy to be debunked.

Hiding behind “journalism” as the reason for this cynicism just won’t do. I ain’t convinced! There are lots of “journalists” who do have the same problem with their approach, but there are lots that don’t. It’s not endemic to journalism to have to drive people nuts, to be cynical, and to print what MAY be someone’s screwup and assume it’s true until proven otherwise. The theory of the law, “Innocent until proven guilty” would help in your approach to your journalism. But of course you became this sort of journalist as a result of an already existing cynicism, not the reverse. You have charm and intelligence and good looks, and I can see that it is dangerously easy for you to mislead people about yourself–even when you know you’re doing it. Careful, this can make for a hollow feeling and dis-ease.

…Now, what your father [two Ph.Ds in Christianity] was exposed to was “readings” in the British style. Not the original materials, but readings of not-very-good European writers, whose writings couldn’t even be taken seriously (since they’re relatively ignorant of the details) in American Biblical Studies. Out of this study of generally poor secondary sources your father got the impression he was something of an expert in theology. From this weak background, with most of his questions unanswered, he launched into doing what only someone who didn’t know what he didn’t know would do: he tried to write a commentary on Daniel. It was a terrible mishmash of preterism, historicism, and futurism without any understanding of how these systems complement and clash. There was no understanding of their history, of the sameness and difference involved in them.. And much of the book was unedited quotes from other sources strung together in ways that didn’t fit at all. It became apparent to me after only a few minutes that your father didn’t have the foggiest notion of the Book of Daniel, and shouldn’t even be teaching an academy class on the subject, much less writing a book about it. That a Seventh Day Adventist publishing house published this mess, virtually unedited, and with even the Hebrew title screwed up, showed the blind leading the blind.

You write very much in the style of your father. Like him, you tie together long quotes, with rather poor segues and transitions. This is so evident in your website that I marvel that I didn’t get it sooner. And you’ve gotten the same kind of accurate and strong criticism your father got for what passes for writing. And the same kind of “this guy really didn’t take the time to know what he was talking about before he became a legend in his own mind” criticism.

Here are more of my childhood traits that brought out my father’s “you might only learn through pain” line:

* I couldn’t stick to anything that did not have immediate rewards.
* Using work time to do my own thing such as talk to girls.
* I mouthed off to teachers and bosses who retaliated.
* I tried to dominate and take over every group I joined.
* I talked too much. I interrupted people. I blurted out things inappropriate. I didn’t care who I offended with my opinions. I was born to blog.
* I talked to girls like I talked to boys.
* I was desperate to show people how smart I was.
* I thought the rules didn’t apply to me because I was special.
* Trying to get away with stuff.
* Leading a hidden life hoping it wouldn’t get exposed.
* A selfish life wouldn’t make me happy.
* Over-exertion such as running marathons at age 12 and working 90-hours a week at age 19. “You’ll spend your health to get your wealth and vainly spend your wealth to get your health,” dad said.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Personal. Bookmark the permalink.