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The Long Road I took to Learn Basic Python

I have been wanting to switch careers to programming for a long time now.
Just that juggling a part time job, home work, and a broken back, always kept me from somehow giving it the time, that that I needed.

It has been two years now.

My lowest ebb, was September last year, when I caught a really nasty bug, was laid up in bed, for nearly a month and then checked myself into a hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack.1

In the meanwhile, people have learnt stuff, gotten careers and rocketed up their charts while I sit here spinning my wheels.
Or at least I used to think, I was spinning my wheels, until this month.

In my head, I used to be like, why is this so hard for me?

I write this, to remind myself from getting discouraged.
To remind myself of the progress I made, even if it hasn’t been much yet.
To show my future self, that past Jason, was not a fat slob.
He worked his ass off. And he was resilient.
I write this, because I had a few hard days again, but this time I don’t want to slide into a pit of despair once more.

The first thing, I reminded myself, was that everybody’s journey is different.
With my physical problems, it has not been easy to focus.
I have to juggle a ton of things, as a husband, son, consultant, patient and student.
And while it may seem all dark and gloomy, I was surrounded by incredibly loving and helpful people, which has made my journey, a lot easier than it would have been without them. My wife, my mother, my friends … all pillars of support!
So the pace I am at, might be much slower than other people, but it reminded me of something my physio said to me when I was sure, I would never be able to run more than 2 minutes straight.

You might be slow.
You might be fat.
You might be in pain.
But you will be better much sooner than other folks I know.
Because you are doing it.
While the rest are still sitting on their asses, moaning.

The second thing I did, was to take stock of how far, I have actually come.
Yes, I am not as financially well off as I would like to be.
Yes, life has kicked me in the nuts, more times, than I would like to count.
But I dug myself out of poverty.
I am working myself to the best shape of my life.
I could barely walk two years ago, and now I am practically running.
I am steadily inching to being my weight in my early twenties (while being much fitter than I was then)

So the problem is not me.
It might take time.
But I can do this.

And as I am doing this second public round of a hundred days of code, I realise all I have to do is to have no shame about my speed (or my abilities), and be resiient and persistent.

And to remind me about just how far I have come, I write this down.
I started nearly three years ago. I wasted a year, spinning my wheels.
And then I found Kushal and DGPLUG. A more supportive mentor and a more welcoming community, I hadn’t experienced in my life. I am still learning from them. And they still teach me with unending patience. If you are ever on IRC, just come say hi on the #learnandteach channel on Freenode.
I started learning the basics from a kids book, because the big ones were confusing.
I tried learning python after that, but I failed.
I tried lots of books, and online sites, but I just could not get it.
I realised that just learn the syntax and go, does not do a thing in my brain.
Or the excellent Python for You and Me would have been just the ticket.
Then I realised that maybe learning more basics would help.
And that this was not something I could learn in a few weeks or months.
So I studied the raw basics of computer science, so I could understand, what was what.
And then I understood some.
I then took my time and read the biggest non fiction book I ever read in my life. The Lutz Python Book.
And I understood some more.
I went and watched a series of videos by some kid on youtube.
And I understood some more.
Just doing all this took the better part of a year and a half.

Now here I am.
On the cusp of a moment, when I think the dam might break.
Because things make sense faster now.
I can read what other people write and actually understand.
I can think for myself and write short programs.
I can understand what the other folks teach and get it.
From here on, it seems just like a matter of loads of practice.

I write this though, to remind myself, that if this moment is not to be, then I needn’t worry.
I can see how far I have come.
I will do this.
All I need to be is shameless in my learning, patient in my attitude, and resilient in my mind.

P.S. I realised all this was inspired by an old Aurelius quote,

“True good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions and good actions.”


  1. Spoiler. It wasn’t. Just an enlarged spleen acting up due to complications from the bug. Still serious. Just not a heart attack :)