Navigating a Whackadoodle World: A Prologue

A Whackadoodle discussion in which my student challenges me to teach her about A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating the River of Life. If you have entered this story in the middle, click here for the table of contents.


“I think that we need to start talking more about your rules, and less about my lessons,” she said slamming her algebra book shut.

“How’s that?”

“Well, isn’t the point of our website to get people intrigued by Navigating Life?”

“I suppose so.”

“So, we need to be talking about it,” she declared. “For instance, in your first book, A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life, you make a big point of readers taking one rule at a time, giving it one week’s strict attention, and leaving the rest of the rules to ordinary chance. Why that emphasis, and why have you not included that advice in your later books?”

“Why do people always ask multiple questions at once, and then expect easy answers?” I commented drily.

“Fine,” she clicked the pen in her hand. “Why did you initially ask your readers to take one rule at a time, leaving the rest to ordinarily chance?”

“Because I knew that learning fourteen rules at once would be too overwhelming, and because it takes time and repetition to understand any of them fully.” I blurted out before explaining more calmly. “I started cycling through the rules with my students, back when I was teaching college. I noticed how well they worked in real life. How often my student’s attitudes were transformed by them.” I thought back, “And it wasn’t just my students who were transformed. Those rules transformed me. I became stronger, more confident, more organized, more focused, more understanding, more everything. Those rules changed my life.”

“So why have you stopped suggesting that people take one rule at a time, and focus on it for one week before moving onto the next?”

“Because I stopped teaching college, and joined the real world where people don’t always have the luxury of a fourteen week structure. People need to learn at their own pace and in their own way.”

“That’s from Rule Seven, right,” she lit up suddenly. “The Power of Process and Growth.”

“Yeah,” I admitted with a small smile. “Rule Seven.”

“But you still think it’s a good way to really learn your rules?”

“Daily, weekly, monthly,” I shook my head. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can’t really understand the rules if you only read the book once.”

“How so?”

“Because you’re gonna read it once, and think, ‘Oh I get it,’ then you’re gonna forget all about it as you go back to your daily routine. People’s habits are too strong, and these rules only make a difference if you can incorporate them into your daily choices.”

“So, they only make a difference if I can make them into a habit.”


“And habits are only created through repetition.”

“Right again,” I agreed.

“So let’s do it,” she declared.

“Do what?”

“Make them a habit,” she continued. “You said these rules transformed your life–made you stronger, more confident, more everything. Well, I want that too,” she said. “I propose that you take me through the rules the same way you used to take your classes. That way, we both get what we want.”

“And what do we both want?” I asked, grinning.

“I get my own private ‘river of life guide’, and you get people intrigued by your rules.”

“What about your school work? I am pretty sure that your dad isn’t paying me to teach you about Navigating Life.”

“We can still do my homework, but I want to do this as well.”

“And I suppose that I don’t have a choice.”

“Not if I start asking questions about your rules every week,” she smiled. “One thing that I know about you. You can’t resist answering a question.”

“Even when I am not sure of the answer,” I agreed. “It’s one of the faults I am working on.”

“We can work on our faults together,” she concluded gleefully. “I suggest that we begin with rule one next week. Maybe we should give it it’s own name. A title that people will know to search for and follow.” she mumbled to herself as she began to pack her books. “I’m thinking, Navigating a Whackadoodle World: Rule One. Or maybe Episode One? Lesson One? I’ll think about it and let you know. Of course, we can always provide links from one lesson to another. That might work even better. I guess we will have to see how it goes.”

I watched her with narrowed eyes. “I should never have taught you the principles of persuasion and influence,” I told her.

“Too late,” she called merrily as she headed out the door.


Click here to read Navigating a Whackadoodle World: Episode One


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  • Navigating Life in a Whackadoodle World
  • Finding Sense in a Whackadoodle World
  • Teaching Logic in a Whackadoodle World
  • Navigating Life Through Turbulent Tides
  • A River Worth Riding: Fourteen Rules for Navigating Life

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