Sunday, 26 July 2015

What I Have Learnt

Human beings  are a work in progress that mistakenly think that they are finished.  I can't agree more. In certain ways, you can compare our progression through life to water. This is because if you look at the larger scheme of things, just like water in a jar, we are continuously trying to find our place.  As a result of this  recalibration, our attitudes, values and beliefs  tend to change.

But even with these expected changes,  life has taught me that deep down,  at the core of every single individual, there are certain constants – those values and beliefs that do not change with the passage of time. It is these things that define us and differentiate us from other people. In fact, they help to define who we are as individuals.

What are those constants? What defines me as an individual? What do I stand for? What do I believe in?  What keeps me centered? To answer these questions, based on my experience and borrowing from the lessons that I have  learnt thus far, I sought to put it all together  in ‘What I Have Learnt’ 

Just because we do not understand certain things does not mean that they do not exist. Call it what you may but from the smallest things  around us to the much more complex miracles of nature, it is true that there is a greater power at play. God does not play dice and there are no coincidences. 

Politics is many things to many people. For most of us, it is a way to acquire power for power’s sake and with it, the trappings that come with high office. But politics should be anything but that. Good politics should be inclusive and transformational, a tool to create positive influence in the lives of ordinary folks. 

Family is that imperfect  group of people that give meaning to life. They keep us grounded and centered. They are those few that we care so much about, yet sometimes those that worry us the most - and for obvious reasons.  We do not chose family but with all their faults and imperfections, they are those special people that to us, represent a piece of heaven. 

Education and by extension learning,  is a continuous process that lasts a lifetime. Ask anyone from a modest background who has made anything of themselves and they will confide that education (not necessarily formal education) is an equalizer. They say that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. 

In the words of the scriptures, they who kneel before God can stand before man. Though not quite relevant in this context,  these words  nonetheless speak to a certain disarming power of this virtue. I have seen and I know about occasions where persuasion has been more effective and thus achieved more,than coercion ever could.   

I believe that you don't live once. Rather, you live every second, every moment, of every day. Nothing captures this more than this simple phrase; live not for battles won, live  not for the end of the song, live for the along. In the end, no matter how long your journey through life is, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, 'it is not the years in your life that count, rather what counts is the life in your years.' 

A friend once wrote to me saying, 'chance and mischance happens to all - make use of yours while they still are.' In life, there are certain opportunities that present themselves. These happenings have the ability to change the trajectory of our lives, sometimes permanently. But they don't call them windows of opportunities for nothing. Just as easy as they open sometimes, these windows can close just as fast. 

An erudite scholar often said  that, 'the path of duty is the way to glory.' For his whole adult life, he had dedicated his time and effort to a singular goal - the education of poor bright boys from underprivileged backgrounds. He believed in this cause and he worked hard. So he would certainly know what he meant when he told his charges that there is no substitute for hard work.  

I have read The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari three times now, never mind that I can barely  remember most of what I read. One thing that I remember though, call it my take home message if you will, is the power of positive thinking. According to the author the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our thoughts. In this regard, who we are and what we become - is to a great degree - a physical manifestation of our innermost thoughts. 

Remember Jesus, the one who was born in Nazareth. Yes, that one! He couldn't possibly have done anything wrong. Yet, He had haters! In life, we will sometimes offend certain people. But this is mutual because certain people will REALLY offend us as well.  However, regardless of the reason, there is little use in keeping grudges. There is a certain power that we take back when we forgive and let go, thus what I like to call the redemptive power of forgiveness.  

Human beings are inherently good. With that said, it is not lost to me that just as man has a great capacity to do good, he has  an equally great capacity to do evil. Call me naive but I believe that the world is all the more better if we all strive to do good. Think about it, you pick a kid in your old  Volkswagen beetle in some God-forsaken country.  Decades later, that once obscure kid, now president of the free world, lets you hitch a ride in his limousine.  Ok, I digress. Fact is, that although you will do good, you will not always have the favour returned. Do good anyway. 

I like to think of life as a book. Each word is a deed, each phrase is an experience and each paragraph is a chapter in our lives. Now, unlike in a book, we are given the power to rewrite certain chapters in our tale. We are given the freedom to do with our lives that which which is pleasing to our hearts. With this freedom however, comes responsibility and with it, possibility.  Think about a clay artisan with a fresh mould of clay. Life at its best and at its worst is a lesson in the immense power of possibility.

To be continued....
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