I've Learned

Grandmother,

You have taught me that life is the best, yet toughest, school ever. You have taught me how to learn, how to absorb every possible experience and use it efficiently, when necessary. You have taught me, as well, how to build my own personality and forge my character in an automated world full of similarities. You have taught me a lot more than ink and paper can convey, a lot more than words can even express.

I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, like you have always kept me in yours.

In your memory,

 

I’ve learned…

I’ve learned that sometimes, people are just like water. You start judging them by the unique impression of their transparency & hydrating effect. You forget by this that you’re dealing with one of the fastest & trickiest liquids in the known world. It crosses the toughest ways, blows hot & cold in seconds, and pierces rocks not by force, but with time and repetition…

I’ve learned that, just like acid wipes out rust, patience pulls down envy. Be patient towards the envious; fire eats itself when it finds nothing to eat…

I’ve learned that sometimes, jealousy is the best homage that vice can pay to human virtue. If praise can be bought, jealousy has to be deserved…

I’ve learned that sometimes, fragility is a valuable asset for women. It turns their weaknesses into strengths, and their aspirations into illusions. Please don’t ask me why, I’m not a woman; I just perceive it this way…

I’ve learned that age is just a number for people foolish enough to believe in. Maturity has less to do with the number of birthdays you’ve celebrated, and more to do with the types of experience you’ve had from them…

I’ve learned that reputation is like constructions. Even if it takes you a lifetime of efforts to build it, it only takes a moment to be destroyed…

I’ve learned that, in fact, realism and perfectionism can fit together. After all, what would be the taste of reality if you don’t seek perfection in everything you pursue? Mediocrity is definitely not an asset. In the midst of this highly competitive world, being regular and common makes you only a forgettable number among others. Give yourself, and the whole world, the best you can in an outstanding and unforgettable performance. Finally, for history to kindly remember you and for humanity to be proud of you, you’ll have to make a difference, a shining one…

I’ve learned that planning is different from dreaming. If planning for the future is of utmost necessity, losing track of the present is highly dangerous. You must cross the bridge before destroying it. Live the present for the dream, not the dream for the present…

I’ve learned that sorrow is like soap: the more you wash, the smaller it gets. After all, life is like a turning wheel; good times and bad times rotate…

I’ve learned that sometimes, love might be ungrateful and relatively unsatisfying. If someone doesn’t love you the way you really want them to, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have…

I’ve learned that words must be handled with care. They are powerful enough and can get you wherever you want. But if you force it to the extent of crossing the opposite fence, you’ll find yourself somewhere else…

I’ve learned that problems, if left unsolved, would ultimately generate others and others. Mere ignorance or indifference can’t stop this proliferation. However, facing and solving them is the adequate solution. As for this resolution’s success, simply caressing the surfaces by erasing their outcome wouldn’t be enough. You must, instead, tackle their root causes and eliminate their very sources of existence…

I’ve learned that sometimes, even if leadership is considered innate, it must grow with the body and mind. It can’t enforce your personality and stimulate your character unless you feed it. History has shown to us the difference between Kings who fed it and conquered the world, and those who couldn’t even conquer themselves…

I’ve learned that acquaintance and friendship are two different concepts. You shouldn’t be looking around for real friendship, when you are happy and not in need. You can partially do this, when you are in need and asking for it. But you must definitely do this, when you really are in need and not asking for it. After all, true friends are discerned during uncertain matters, when real intentions are revealed…

I’ve learned that sometimes, thoughts can influence destiny. If you always start by the same thought, continue with its motion, and finish with the same action, habitude will affect your character. Your personality will adapt to this mutation, and push you towards the destiny you’re headed to…

I’ve learned that, no matter how precious and indispensable time is, it will definitely keep a sense of hypocrite retribution. It runs regardless of your position, of how slow or late you are. Time cannot follow you; you must follow time and keep track of it. It’s not by contemplating your watch, but by managing every click. There is time for everything, time management is the key…

I’ve learned that majority doesn’t necessarily mean rightness. Sometimes, it means only that all the fools are on the same side. Pause, reflect and think well before you adhere…

I’ve learned that living only for oneself is highly selfish, and living only for others is totally destructive. You must take care of yourself, like you take care of others. If you leave yourself, you are committing suicide. And if you leave the others, you are committing suicide as well. Don’t take a single side and rely on it; equilibrium is vital in this social combination…

I’ve learned that the mismanagement of both, failure or success, might set you to a definite and uncontrolled auto-destructive process. When you are successful, remember not to be dazzled by success. It leads you to ruin when you are the most vulnerable, when you least expect it. And when you are unsuccessful, remember not to give up. Failure must be your stepping stone to an ultimate success, not the cemetery of your self-confidence. Finally, there’s no glory in triumph if no pain is undergone…

I’ve learned that determination and motivation are fundamental keys to success. But they cannot be taken separately; they go in tandem. In a way or another: unmotivated determination condemns you to apathy, and undetermined motivation makes you run so roughshod. Thus, by merging them, you wouldn’t be simply searching for success, but getting closer to finding it. And don’t mistake yourself: searching for it doesn’t necessarily mean finding it…

I’ve learned that help is a very sensitive and delicate act. Regardless of being charitable and humane, it sometimes gets denaturalized by unwanted effects. Instead of pushing the needy forward, he gets immobilized by satiety and relieved by outer help. Practically, he must not be merely assisted in survival, but taught instead how to live and carry on…

I’ve learned that no matter how beautiful the world is, and regardless of how intriguing and exciting travelling might be, you always keep a certain sense of affection and belonging to your roots. You can visit the most attractive spots for tourism, become a resident in one of your favorites, or even be the pioneer of heaven on earth, but you’ll never be a true indigenous…

I’ve learned that the value of a person should not be measured by the amount of knowledge/information he holds, but by the way he uses it. Strong is the one who shares his knowledge without being selfish; and stronger is the one who admits learning from others without conceit…

I’ve learned that professors can be for outstanding students, either very constructive, or utterly destructive. While the honest and unaffected ones seek the advancement and excellence of their students, the iniquitous and pretentious tend to cut the legs of emerging giants…

I’ve learned that leadership should be measured from two perspectives: the leader and the led. In other words, leadership is a balance with the leader on one side, and the led on the other. But it’s a balance which must remain either slightly on the leader’s side, or incidentally in equilibrium. If the leader is relatively weak, the so-called led with either throw him out, or naively keep following him till his makes a fatal mistake. And if the led are unwise and useless, the average leader will hardly persist. Here comes the true mission of leadership: a great leader must know how to guide his own people for nonentity to effective existence…

I’ve learned that a successful politician must work in his field, just like bees do in a garden of flowers. By taking the good and leaving the bad, he doesn’t merely combine the scattered partials of truth, but also unifies sightless perspectives by building a new reality. In other words, it is only by collecting and mending the shattered assets of his peers/competitors that a unique and viable pattern can emerge. After all, it is by no mistake that bees pick their flowers, absorb what they need, and come back home…

I’ve learned that excellence and effective highness cannot - or must not - be achieved by a sudden parachute drop. Achievement is, by definition, the act of finishing something successfully. Thus, it must be the result of a complete and fruitful process; not its beginning. While inquiring about the secret of an eminent manager’s success, he simply answered me:” I started”. Start normally and mature with time and experience; you’ll keep growing bigger and bigger. Start artificially and get exposed; you’ll suffer on your way back, down to reality…

I’ve learned that friendship is a very fragile and temporal link. Tensions either consolidate it, or cut it out. Thus, when the rope of friendship pulls you, just go with it until it stops. But when it doesn’t, you will have to gently pull it toward you, until it brings resistance…

I’ve learned that the easiest way to extract information, and read the inner thoughts of a reluctant person is by animating his anger. Angry men tend to unintentionally reveal their secrets and hidden intentions…

I’ve learned that history is simultaneously, the finest teacher, and the biggest bowl of mysteries and contradictions. While learning from the past and getting inspired from it is essential, we remain incapable of discerning the true facts from the false. In other words, we can hardly conceive the true image of the past for it is almost impossible to separate the complete truth from the partial one. Winston Churchill used to say:” history will be kind to me for I intend to write it”. Have you ever wondered who wrote history? Obviously, you’d say historians. But practically, it was written by those who won the wars, those who were powerful enough to cut the hands and tongues of their enemies…

I’ve learned that rightness is neither a fact, nor a feeling; it’s the combination of both. When something feels right, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is right. And when something is in fact right, it shouldn’t necessarily imply the feeling…

I’ve learned that the world is not as big as it seems, but as big as we want it to be. An Indian friend used to tell me:” The world is big, and you can’t be everywhere at the same time, but everywhere can be with you all the time: all you need is friendship”…

Life is an endless school: I’ve learned, I still am, and will always keep on learning…

 

Paul M. Klimos