My  father believed that if you had to suffer for things, they were more worthwhile. He had a carving made which is Greek (to me) but apparently it says that ‘the most difficult things in life, are the most worthwhile’.



He was not the only one to think that things that come too easy, are cheap and worthless. I think of a client of mine, who consistently chooses men who are unavailable or difficult in one way or another. The men who really like her and are attracted to her, she treats with disdain, and she believes that if she wins over an unavailable man and overcomes the challenges of getting together with him, that the relationship will mean more and be worth more.

I’m not so sure about suffering and hardship as being the means of creating great worth.  I certainly know that there is no need to seek out difficulty as life will dish out its unfair share anyway. And I do know that there is something special about people who have withstood, endured and overcome difficulty and hardship. But I have to say that, no doubt due to my lack of character, and perhaps as a mild rebellion against my father, I get very pleased when things work easily and without fuss or difficulty.

What set about my thinking about all this is how I got new curtains in my guest room. Some years ago, I gave the guest room an update when my kind-of-BAE moved out. At the time I bought expensive fabric for new curtains and then messed up the making of them and made them too small, but I’d already cut up the fabric and it was a typical and stupid thing that I’d done, and my poor guests had to put up with curtains that were far too small and didn’t really do the job. So, I’ve had it in mind for a while now that I should get some decent curtains but haven’t felt very inspired.

Then I went to OASIS to drop off my re-cycling, visited the charity shop there and saw some curtains bundled up. I bought them, thinking that I’d have to do some cutting and sewing and knowing that it was very likely that I’d make a mess of the whole job. But for R70 it was worth a shot. I couldn’t believe it when I got them home to find that the curtains were a perfect fit. All I had to do was chop them in half and sew up the edges. Believe me, I am capable of messing even that up, but I didn’t. Everything worked so well. I had the right number of hooks. They all went in easily. Even threading the needle on my old sewing machine was relatively easy. Easy peasy, couldn’t have been less pain and suffering!


So now my guests will have curtains that do the job and look like this:


Cheap and easy – yes. Worth a lot – oh yeah!

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8 Replies to “Cheap and easy. Worthwhile and difficult.”

  1. I had a blast with your Dad’s Greek phrase. I recognized the characters from math/physics, but didn’t understand the phrase. Translating the characters to our alphabet they would be roughly: Xalepa ta kala. A Google search on the phrase (using our alphabet) gave translations as diverse as

    “good/beautiful things are difficult” (I think in the sense difficult to attain)
    “beauty is harsh” (what the hell does that mean?)
    “beautiful things are troublesome” (eh? what? why? I didn’t mention women, did I?)
    “naught without labour”

    The Google searches also referred me to mottoes of college fraternities, Plato’s Republic, advertisements for tattoo artists who could put this saying on any part of my body, and a few ranting right wing websites to boot.

    Since I was not planning to read Plato’s Republic, I tried the easy way out for a second opinion: Google translate (GT).

    With automatic language detection switched on, GT decided that ‘Khalepà tà kalá’ was Vietnamese. The English translation it offered me was “Ta Kala Khalepa”.

    No, I’m not making this up. When I put my cursor on the supposed English translation, GT cheekily asked me if I wanted to improve this translation

    I pointed out to GT that the source language was Greek. GT grumpily put most of the letters back into Greek symbols as Χαλεπά τα kala. Thereupon it informed me in no uncertain terms that in English this means “He kala the kala”.

    Again, I kid you not. You may duplicate this result for yourself if you doubt me (assuming that GT’s algorithm is mentally stable enough to produce the same idiocy twice in a row).

    I tried getting GT to put the final word into Greek symbols as well, as follows, χαλεπά το καλά. GT translated this as “It’s good”. An improvement on “He kala the kala”, but still puzzling. Why would Plato waste a book on this shallow phrase?

    Perhaps this is just another validation of your father’s saying. Good things (even translations) require effort.

  2. Beautiful! Although I loved staying in your guest room before these and didn’t notice anything but lovely then too.

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