Doing Life Daily, Rocking Rubber Bands and Lessons from a Basketball Legend…

Oh my!” as George Takei who voices my internal monologue would say. Things got quite serious the other day. I’d like to briefly follow that up with something a bit more smiley but, likewise, slightly life-affirmative and semi-profound. I will do that by directing you nice people reading to this link: a recent article for the Esquire Culture Blog by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in which he outlines 20 things he wished he known when he was 30.

Life lessons from a living legend and, indeed, I do find that NBA basketball players (both active and retired) are actually some of the inspirational, philosophical public figures out there. Regardless of my own affection for that game and for the 7-foot-and-2-inches dude with the sublime skyhook shot, a role in Airplane! and a fight against Bruce Lee on his personal record, there are sage words for everyone in that piece. It’s interesting to read for me as someone in his mid-20s though, as ever with this sort of stuff, the advice rings true regardless of age. Age is an elastic concept that you can stretch and bend like a rubberband. “Fwip“. That was the band flying across the room ’cause you’re not gonna let the vulcanised binding time tag bring you down. You own that band, you are the boss of that band and you wear it how you damn well please…

Anyhow, stretching back to the subject at hand, some of Kareem’s thoughts are less relevant to me (mainly the romantic tips) but others resonate – particularly the parts about patience, compassion and practicing yoga. To pick a potent one that I reckon is crucial for everyone on this perturbed planet, here’s lesson 16 abridged…

Don’t be so quick to judge. It’s human nature to instantly judge others. It goes back to our ancient life-or-death need to decide whether to fight or flee. But in their haste to size others up, people are often wrong… We miss out on knowing some exceptional people by doing that, as I’m sure I did…. You have to weigh the glee of satisfaction you get from arrogantly rejecting people with the inevitable sadness of regret you’ll eventually feel for having been such a dick.

And who wants to feel like a dick and handle a whole lot of self-humiliation and regret? Judgementalism is a drain and a dud mindset to drag along everywhere – open-hearted, open-minded compassion should be the modus operandi and we, as a society, need more of that and less of the judging. (That’s just my opinion, and I’ve already outlined how my opinion and judgements are irrelevant. See? Who needs judgement?!)

Overall, I suppose the main point of this post: compassion and conscious awareness make you a better human being and the world a better place. There are so many articles, blogposts, guidebooks and manifestos on how to live your life, be creative, get by, succeed, thrive, achieve, rock ‘n’ roll, be awesome, be honourable and so on so so on in existence out there. It’s neverending and endlessly repetitive but, nevertheless, reading them is always worthwhile because there’s always at least one point of quasi-mystical, profound truth in each individual one. Like repeating mantras, if you engage with wise advice and profound principles on a daily basis you absorb it and it becomes a conscious, cognised feature of life.

I genuinely believe that a daily dose of this kind of stuff works, whatever your preferred brand or format is (aphorisms, motivational quotes, Zen proverbs, inspiring articles, self-affirmations, creative tips, spiritual principles or tenets, etc., etc.). I don’t intend for this to sound like a self-help guru spiel – the fact is that we’re all living-and-thinking-and-functioning sentient organisms with souls and we’re all innately entwined in an ecosystem with other organisms. This is just about doing life, and a daily reminder that we’re doing life where we challenge ourselves on “how we do life” is, I’d say, an essential part of being a functioning human being.

Today, waking up and reading the wisdom that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has accumulated through his life experience reinforced many things I already knew but gives me the opportunity to appreciate ’em afresh. I want to be a better human being and I don’t want to be an old man bewailing about all my regrets and how much of an idiot bastard I was in younger years. Consequently, I’ll keep listening and looking around, regularly for the greater righteous good (it’s good for me, good for those around me and good for the great cosmic grand scheme of things).

I hope that doesn’t read like an overly preachy rant (I’m very deep and serious on this blog all of a sudden) and I’ll wrap this thing up in a colourful stretchy rubber band with this: a little bit of learning, compassion and conscious awareness every day potentially goes a long, long way…

Now go elsewhere with an open-mind and sense of warm affability and find someone really erudite and sage to absorb immense insight and wisdom from…

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