So, I started this series on WhatsApp and Instagram, sharing with others valuable lessons 2017 had taught me. It was an interesting one, with quite a number of people wholeheartedly following the daily posts. It lasted for a week, one lesson per day. I have decided to compile the seven in this blog post for easy access and reference. I started the series on December 29, 2017, and, to preserve that significance, I left references to dates and time as they were published. Enjoy.
1. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” — Haruki Murakami (my favorite Japanese writer)
I came across this in his crushingly modest memoir, What I Talk about when I Talk about Running.
He wrote mostly about his life as a marathoner in the book. So, you would understand why this deep quote is my mantra on those cold mornings when I’m jogging and all I feel is pain, and the days that follow when my knees rebel in agony, and, most especially, every other time life deals me shit.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
2. “Do not seek to be known. Seek to know. What you know will make you known.” — Unknown
This has been a year where I made conscious efforts to be low-key, avoiding public appearance as much as possible, and courting attention only when terribly necessary. This simple quote has gone a long way in keeping me focused on my primary mission for the year, which has been to develop myself in certain areas of interest.
You must always remember to set your priorities right. Get the substance first, and all other things shall be added unto you.
“Do not seek to be known. Seek to know. What you know will make you known.”
3. “Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” — Seneca
Stoicism is one other area of interest I’ve been able to grow myself in this year. Coupled with a degree of self-imposed solitary confinement, I have come to understand myself better, and this has given me immense peace.
This particular quote by Seneca has helped me in making many decisions, some of which involved doing away with some things or letting some people go. Sometimes we think we need some people or some things because we’re so used to having them. Many times we are wrong.
4. “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” — Jalaluddin Rumi
I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled on the works of Jalaluddin Rumi, the widely acclaimed Persian poet of 13th century, but I know this particular quote of his has stuck with me since January 2017.
It is okay to have lofty dreams about changing the world and making positive impacts in the society, but we have to first prepare ourselves. If I believe in luck at all, then my definition of it will be adequate preparation meeting opportunity.
Often the change we seek has to begin with us.
5. “Don’t just practise until you get it right; practise until you can’t get it wrong.” — Unknown
Quick fact: Everybody is talented. A more interesting quick fact: Not everybody knows or has realised that they are talented — so, regrettably, a great many people will die with their talents undiscovered, untapped. Even for the few who are aware of their talents, only a small fraction will come close to their full potentials. Why?
Stephen King, the amazingly brilliant American writer who has sold more than 350 million copies of his books, once said: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hardwork.”
2017 taught me that talent is never enough. To make a difference, to stand out, you have to put in extra efforts. And don’t just practise until you get it right; practise until you can’t get it wrong.
6. “The grand failure of others, while we may be sympathetic towards them, consoles us in certain ways, makes us more willing to overlook our own shortcomings.”
I wrote that on June 27, 2017. I remember the exact day because, by some curious coincidence, it was the very day I finished two books I’d been reading for weeks. The first book was by Teju Cole and the other by Yiyun Li. Both authors were my overall favourites for 2017.
So, this is a quick mention or, if you like, acknowledgement, because the duo were highly instrumental in my growth for the year. If you asked me, I wouldn’t say I stalked them, but I might confess to having spent months poring over their works and, well, streaming about 50 videos of them on YouTube.
Yiyun Li and Teju Cole remind me of J.K Rowling, not in writing style or genre but because they all “gambled” with their careers and risked huge failure at some point.
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.” — J.K Rowling, author of Harry Potter fantasy series.
Sometimes good things come out of failure, either for one or for others who witness one’s fall. When it happens, embrace the positive side of it.
7. “Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” — Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones
This is the last for this series, and I’m happy I could pull this off despite all odds. So far, I’ve shared some lessons from writers of all kinds that I read in 2017. While books might have been my mainstay, I can’t deny the tremendous influence that movies and songs had on me, too. I’d never watched as many movies or listened to as many songs as I did last year.
My sweetheart for 2017, Yiyun Li, has said that “what one carries from one point to another, geographically or temporally, is oneself: even the most inconsistent person is consistently himself.” In adherence to the words of Tyrion, to the words of Li, I tried as much as possible to be true to myself last year. I admitted my imperfections and shortcomings. I established my capability for love and fun. I wore my beliefs and philosophies proudly.
In this New Year, in the voice of Harvey Specter, I encourage you to work until you no longer have to introduce yourself. Kill them with success, bury them with a smile.
This is my official season’s greetings. Happy New Year. Blessings and greater heights.
His absolute awesomeness,
Omoya Yinka Simult.
(N.B: Thanks for your time. I hope you did learn a thing or two. If you found any of the lessons helpful or inspiring, please share this article with family and friends. One would want to start the year with a gift like this.)