As I turn 30 (!) I cannot help but look back on my three decades of mortal existence in a reflective manner.
Through all the memories – the highs, the lows and the inbetweeners (both the TV show and the moments of emotional equilibrium) – I ask myself, what have I actually learned from my life thus far?
As someone that advocates continual learning, I feel the best way for me to show my appreciation for a blessed 30 years is to evaluate what I have understood about it.
So to celebrate hitting the big three-zero, here is me sharing some of my acquired wisdom from life as an 80s baby, 90s kid, noughties teen and 21st century young man.
*Disclaimer – I have deliberately left out direct references to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj as what I have learnt from the divine words of the most highest are endless and largely beyond me, although some of what you read below may be aligned with Sikh teachings.
Contentment >>> Happiness
Happiness is an emotion. It can come and go. What made us happy once may not always make us happy. Contentment is a state of being. Contentment over happiness.
Anyone that thinks Violence is Never the Answer has simply Not been Asked the Right Question
Nelson Mandela, often compared to Mahatma Gandhi, was someone that used violence as a means towards fighting for his people’s freedom.
As Nas said, “Gandhi was a Fool, n****r fight to the death”.
Happiness is making your Parents Proud
I surmised this whilst listening to the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud in college, learning about the Oedipus Complex and all that. As a reflection of those that raised us, we (the children) need to see that they (parents/guardians) feel happy with our outcome to feel happy about ourselves. This becomes more apparent as we get older and this is why our parents eventually become more like our children.
The Desiest thing a Desi can do is Fight over Money
Some *desis won’t do bhangra. Some won’t do booze. Some won’t do the religious thing either. But what you can 100% guarantee is anyone with even just a hint of desi in them will always fight over who pays the bill. Someone offer your child money as a gift? Cue World War 3.
*Desi is a term for someone of Indian, Pakistani, Bengali or Sri Lankan origin.
The Difference between any of us is mere Circumstance
The above is a factual statement that is impossible to deny. Bleeding obvious really, hardly a philosophical breakthrough. But you’d never think it looking at societal reactions to immigrants or refugees, or castes, colours or creeds.
Russians are like this. Nigerians are like that. Whatever.
Yes we are different but what truly separates any of us is just how and where we were raised. And with this understanding, no belief, cultural practice or ideology should ever be so alien it creates divide.
Immigrants against Immigrantion is…
…the most hilarious sign that mankind is doomed. Ungrateful b*****ds.
For some people only Humiliation will lead to Humility
Ego is a hell of a thing. Hell being the operative word. An elevated sense of self can force a person to walk the tightrope of insecurity which bore the phrase “pride comes before a fall”. However, that fall can often be the sole way someone realises we are never truly on solid ground, and that is why we should always remain humble.
The Particle Experiment should be Explained to Everyone
Everyone needs to know it is scientifically proven that we don’t know what the hell reality actually is (which is the basic conclusion of the double-slit particle experiment). What we measure, is just what we can grasp of it. It is very evidently not the full picture.
This knowledge can change one’s perspective on life itself. It is must-know information.
Deference of Responsibility is the Cause of all Evil
A man called Omar Nawaz (pictured) said this in one of our many deep philosophical discussions through years of friendship.
For me, this means when we allow someone else to protect us/feed us etc, it is at that very moment we leave ourselves open to the horrors of the world.
Not every sports fan is actually a fan of sports
For some, allegiance to a sports team or individual is a subconscious way to manifest tribal instincts; belonging, rivalry, identity, even aggression. Sing, shout, fight, debate, have an excuse to hate. For this type, the tribalism of being a sports fan supersedes a real appreciation for the sport itself.
In this way, sport is the real opium of the masses, contrary to what Karl Marx said. Religion is more like alcohol; something most people just do on weekends.
Everything happens for a Reason, and the Reason is so you can Learn from it
It’s just simple logic, touching on our evolutionary nature as well as our spiritual intuition.
The meaning of Eric Cantona’s “Seagulls” Line
“When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.”
Cantona said this during a press conference after his infamous kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace fan in 1995. The press were hoping to see the oh-so proud Frenchman become humble in remorse for his actions. Instead he said the aforementioned quote and walked out.
In this scenario, the journalists were the seagulls and Cantona the trawler. The sardines were Cantona’s show of shame for his heinous crime.
The act of saying this single line before leaving the press conference is homage to the fact that sardines are not thrown into the sea. Therefore the scavengers – the press/seagulls – were left denied whilst the trawler (Cantona) sailed off with everything they want.
If the Pen is Mightier than the Sword, the Internet is like 10 Nuclear Bombs
The internet makes everything instant; information, news, facts, interaction, spying and more. So whatever impact the pen can have, the internet can do so too, only quicker and affecting more people. And the detonation button is open to everyone.
Chi is real
Whatever you wanna call it – Chi, Ki, The Force, Life Energy – it is real. Like, proper real. Check out Wim Hof for a modern day example. There are many examples that show us humans have an untapped resource to X-Men/Jedi like powers that can only be found through mastering the body, mind and breath.
“Being a good person” is a Copout
Sometimes people philosophise that life is just about “being a good person”. But what does that even mean? You follow the law? You are nice to people? You don’t kill puppies?
Were the Americans of the 19th century that were kind to their slaves good people?
One man’s nice is another man’s naughty. What is good for the Christian may not be good for the vegan*.
When someone says this statement, the question is “who are you being good to?” because if the answer is “yourself” then that clearly points to a selfish existence.
This is not to say anyone should be doing more than trying to “be good”, but just to highlight the weakness of this statement. Attempting to “be a good person” does not validate how you live your life.
*NOTE -Christian and vegan were named just examples, I sincerely believe the two can co-exist peacefully and even interbreed.
Time is a cycle, not a line
I’ve taken the above from a freestyle verse by the rapper Akala (a must, must listen for anyone). It is a belief that is held by many great spiritual masters and great scientists. Basically, we are part of some continuous cellular factorial pattern.
Sports Do Not Build Character, They Reveal Character
A great quote by legendary American sportswriter Heywood Hale Broun (pictured above) and as someone that has always played sports, I feel it definitely rings true.
Everyone needs a Teacher, even after you leave School
It isn’t about continuing to acquire knowledge, although that should never stop. It is about being humble enough to understand there is always someone who knows more.
In line with this, I concur with the thought that travelling is one of the best forms of education.
One thing about music…
…when it hits, you feel no pain.
The way it can instantly change a mood, evoke an emotion and simply resonate with us in a transcendental manner; music is an immensely powerful tool. And it should be viewed in such fashion.
Pride vs Heart
“To have pride is to take on Mike Tyson if he insults you whilst you are with your partner. To have heart is to take on Mike Tyson if he insults you when you’re by yourself.”
I am paraphrasing the words of up-and-coming boxing trainer Stephen “Da Breadman” Edwards. The Philadelphian trains current light-middleweight contender Julian Williams and these are words I never forgot from reading his fantastic regular mailbag column (formerly on BoxingTalk.com and now on BoxingScene.com).
The above is a great but perhaps extreme analogy of the difference between having pride and having heart, two things people often confuse.
“We have some twisted values. We don’t like Good News only Bad News”
The above is a lyric by Jehst in one of my favourite raps songs, Elevate (the Ghost remix). It seems to be human nature for us to be more focused on what is wrong than what is right. We all know this. But I don’t think any of us quite realise how crazy it is that what we strive for most is what we seem to appreciate least.
The Difference between being Grateful and being Proud
I learned this after listening to a Basics of Sikhi video by Jagraj Singh (pictured). Sometimes we have no right to be proud of something. When it comes to things we have not done ourselves, being proud can lead to a lack of appreciation. At these times, pride really can be a sin.
Example: am I proud to be British? No. But I am grateful to be British.
Rocky Balboa was a Good Film
I am talking specifically about Rocky Balboa (the sixth Rocky film). If you thought I was talking about the Rocky films in general, you’re mental. Those are some of the best films ever. Except Rocky 5 (the one with real life boxer Tommy Morrison playing Tommy Gunn). That was pretty awful.
In 2006 I watched Rocky Balboa as an excited 20 year old hoping to see a conclusive end to the Rocky story I had seen so many times growing up. I was left disappointed by the tale of this seemingly insane old man, unnecessarily wanting to prove he is a warrior, even at the cost of his own health. I just thought no one in his position could be so irrational and plain silly.
Then as I got older I continued to watch the career of Evander Holyfield unfold. Until his retirement in 2011 (aged 48), the mentality of a fighter Sylvester Stallone depicts in Rocky Balboa was mirrored by Holyfield. And with 54 year old Frank Bruno recently also state he is thinking of fighting again, the plot of Rocky Balboa again rings true. *Sigh*.
Modern Politics is just a Sport
Pick a side, get behind your team and enjoy the drama. What we see on our TVs and read about in our newspapers is not a vision of how a nation is run.
We are Social media Guinea-Pigs
We don’t have any clue about the long term effects that the likes of Facebook and Instagram are having on our society yet. There has already been research linking sustained use of it (something that most are guilty off) to depression.
Who knows what studies will find after decades of use?
We live in an extremist capitalist society. Just think about how many waking minutes you go without having something sold to you. On TV, on billboards, on social media, adverts online, in newspapers, magazines, on the radio, everywhere.
This can’t be normal.
It’s not the poverty, it’s the inequality
Another appearance in this list for Akala, and funnily he isn’t even someone I listen to a lot. When I do though, it usually makes an impact.
Sometimes when we look at why societies are divided we look at fiscal reasons. This can then eliminate issues seen in many Western nations, where over 90% of people are not technically in poverty. So what’s the issue in these countries?
The Evils of the Comfort Zone
I read the autobiography of Roy Keane firstly as a young teen and have read it countless times since. For many reasons, his approach to life really connected with me.
A particular section of the book – titled “Keane” – remained with me for life. As a teenager Keane found himself as an unemployed wana-be footballer at one point. During this time he fell into the habit of only waking up to watch the afternoon episode of soap-opera Neighbours.
Keane goes on to talk about how this habit “nearly took him under”. A general theme of the book is how it is easy to slip into the “comfort-zone”, something I had never really thought of before. Now, whenever I find myself watching something like Family Guy too often, I question if I am too falling into the “comfort-zone” and look to do something about it.
A lot of People that say they’re Atheists aren’t really Atheists
Russell Brand said this to me in response to a question I asked him at one of his live Trews shows. He probably put it a lot more verbosely than as stated above but in essence it is something I have found through discussions of faith with many atheists. The creative force of energy which reverberates through the universe (personified as God by some) is something we all believe in, in some form or another.
What is Great should always Remain Great
This was said to me by my friend Harjinder Singh Gill in the spring of 2007 during the build up to the Floyd Mayweather vs Oscar De La Hoya fight.
I asked him why he so badly wanted Mayweather to win the fight, even though he was such an unlikeable character. Harjinder said the above in such a basic matter of fact kind of way that it resonated with me tremendously.
“I want Mayweather to win because he is a great fighter. And what is great should always remain great.”
Those words encapsulate a part of our nature the comes from the very essence of our souls. When something touches us, when something seems pure and unique, we want it to remain with us forever.
It’s a beautiful instinct which highlights both the best and worst of what makes us human. And that’s why the operative word in the titled statement is “should”.