Monday, July 8, 2013

Life Lessons Following my Recent Birthday

"If we were consciously aware of what we really know about ourselves and others, we would not go on living as we do, accepting so many lies."
- Eric Fromm (in To Have or To Be)

I turned 33 on Saturday, July 06, 2013.
As I always do right about this time, I took time to reflect - to look back and coalesce all that I have learned in the past year - and thus draw up a road-map, albeit in my head, of what lies ahead.

Looking back at my most recent interactions, one important thing that invariably stays true is that growth can potentially herald, even inspire maturity.
Well, I happen to be no exception to the rule and as such, I am getting significantly mature and by extension wiser with every new day. Just don't ask me to prove it, such indulgence is beyond the scope of this blog post.

Following are some of the most enduring life lessons that continue to characterize my recent annual birthday reflections:

1) Be Yourself Always.

Way back in 1998, "Be Yourself Always" were the last words our High School Captain wrote me in those little books we called 'Autographs'.
At the time, I had to a considerable degree managed to avoid undue peer influence, largely guided by Desiderata's "Do not compare yourself with others" among other principles. Today, sticking to this truth has in fact saved my behind on several vital occasions...

Thing is, it starts and ends with you and you might as well be the captain of your own ship.
Only by remaining true to yourself can you appreciate, be in charge of and manage your life. Admittedly, it sometimes will suck to be honest and hurt to be real. You however, have to remain true to yourself. In fact, you should in most cases not "let the noise of other people's opinions drown your inner voice."

2) Never Lose Hope. Keep Trying and Remain Consistent.

The only thing worth trying when all else has failed is again. In the movie 'The Hunger Games' there is a line to the effect that the only thing more powerful than fear is hope. I have in the past read elsewhere that "Hope, like an anchor, holds to the unseen."

In his inauguration speech on January 20, 2009, US President Barack Obama said that "God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny." A minute before this, he had said that "there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task." That is where the trying and consistency come into play. Character cannot be built by random isolated attempts. It epitomizes a way of life, consistent honesty and hard work.

3) Long Term Goals, One Day at a Time.

I have written elsewhere on this blog that destiny and purpose do have a curious relationship.
Having, and working towards long term goals is the first step towards realizing one's destiny.

In his beautiful poem 'The Golden Man,' Alexander Nderitu writes:
"The dream becomes a goal when you start working
Towards it. Visualise your goal and start walking!"

No matter how long-term a goal is, it the constant laying of a single brick, repeated millions of times over, that results in the Wall of China.

4) Acknowledge, Appreciate and make the most of Here and Now.

Despite my initial dislike of Jigsaw in the Saw movie series, I did agree (to an extent) with his way of looking at things. In Saw III, Jigsaw famously said that "Despite Having all the advantages, many of us still choose not to advance."

Every single time I've felt that the road before me or the undone part of any task is overwhelming, these words have helped me pause, take stock of what I already have, and accordingly do that which I can presently do towards a solution.

5) Listen to what Others are NOT saying.

The famous Sherlock Holmes concept of 'The Evidence of Absence,' as was once adduced thanks to a dog that did NOT bark, is the one thing we almost always disregard. We so often fall for obvious misdirection, as Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) and Ginger (Harre Berry) so easily deceived Stanley (Hugh Jackman) and the law enforcement officials in Swordfish. The mind still continue to believe what the eyes see, and that in itself is the singular strength that's inherent in precious illusions.

I have now come to learn that people are in most cases what they appear not to be, and near always mean that which they do not say. That said, it takes a great deal of patience and hindsight to actually listen to what people are not telling you. Unsurprisingly, therein lies their clear message, sans any ambiguity.

* * *

Looking back at the slightly-over-thirty-three years that in some cases contain my shadow days, I can confidently say that "I'm a good man, with a good heart... had a rough time, got a tough start...but I've learn to let it go."

"Now I'm right here, and I'm right now
And I'm open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over
 My shadow days are over now."

My best wishes to y'all in every new day.


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