Speaking with high school graduates about career choices

I was invited to speak to high school students, many of whom have recently graduated and are not sure what kind of university programme to study or what to do with their lives. In Ghana it’s very common to see talent go waste. So ofcourse I was happy to share my knowledge and experience. I had not prepared any notes so I spoke generally about education and work and told them to ask any questions they have.

Speaking about graduate and undergraduate programmes at the university where I work.

Explaining the importance of following one’s passion. Nothing beats passion. 

I explained to them not to only focus on certificates but rather they must also focus on the transformation of their minds. Certificate gives validation but hard work brings success.

Here I think I was getting a little carried away but it was necessary because the ignorance in this country is frightening. There was a question about parents deciding for their children what programme to study. I answered the questioner whether he will be happy studying what his parents want him to study, he said no. Then tell your parents what you are passionate about, I told him; otherwise you will get your degree but will not be able to make maximum use of it.

I think the gentleman in white was telling me about his passion for biology and hereditary. I told him to read, read and read about genetics. As long as one aims at knowledge, one cannot escape reading.

Closing chat: Find what you love doing and build a career around it. You can decide to dabble in a lot of things but you can’t compete with another person who has the passion, has got the relevant education and is fully focused on the one thing he or she is good at. Success is not by chance. 

At the end, I was happy to hit the nail on the head. I think it was a productive discussion. Sometimes one has to go out there and share his or her knowledge with others. If only one person among these youths listened and followed his or her heart, I will consider my job as a humanist done. They say when the learner is ready to learn a teacher appears. That’s all folks.

It seems all the money in the world fulfils only the quantitative need

Success means different things to different people. To the vast majority success means certain affordances such as a car, a house, fancy clothes, electronic goods etc. This is how the god-men want the world to be. Money rules minds. Money is now the measure of all things. It seems to solve all human problems by silencing both the humans and the problem alike. If Mr. A desires something of Mr. B it gives Mr. B an excellent opportunity to control, exploit and dominate Mr. A. This is how the modern world works. In most parts of the world today one’s worth is directly proportional to the amount of money in one’s bank account. A high amount means high net worth and vice versa.

So is ordinary life worth anything at all? When a man with a fat bank account suddenly falls sick and dies, is the dead man still worth anything? Biblical literature says: “What shall it profit a man when he gains the whole world and loses his soul.” Although money can give an incredibly comfortable life, certain facts still remain. Money cannot fulfil such human needs as genuine sense of security, lasting happiness and love and faithfulness. Such things only come from being unfailingly moral and honest. The more money one has the more untrustworthy friends one would have. I personally believe, by observing people in my society, that the aggresive persuit of money generally reduces a person’s quality of life.

Thoreau says wealth is the ability to experience life in full and that’s correct but wealth can also cause anxiety and sleepless nights. One’s wealth can advance one’s intentions but only quantitatively – meaning one can use money to get more money or acquire more properties but the conversion to genuine human value system such as trust, which is qualitative, is not that easy. One cannot buy genuine trust and respect. The trust and respect one gets as a result of money is shallow and breaks down easily. The worst part of all this is that what the average person calls ‘success’ is normally the destruction of or the grafting of one part of the soul to build upon the other. As a result there is often a painful story behind every material success. I wish all my readers wealth and happiness but I hope everyone puts health and family first. Happy sunday!

A Dream

Last night I dreamt about the sea. 

Its waves so strong, it roared like a mob.

The sea overstepped its shores

And landed on a rocky Island.

I saw a lot of people including kids.

They were having fun in the water.

It looked like a vacation or something.

But some people also seemed like workers.

The water entered a glass building nearby

But nobody seemed alarmed, least of all me.

The strong waves was rather fun to watch.

I was fully dressed but when I looked down

I saw that my feet were buried in blue foamy water.

It felt very cold, then everything receded and

Lo, I’m awake.

Ultimately, thoughts, emotions and ideas are the only realities

In a complex social system, the effectiveness of one’s decisions is dependent on the decisions of others. In other words, for a trader to have a business there must be someone willing to buy. For a leader to legitimately lead, there must others willing to follow. Every decision we make no matter how reasonable it may appear has some emotional influence as the basis. The current state of our lives is as a result of all the decisions we have made since adulthood and decisions made for us by our parents since we were born. Most decisions are reversible. Decision making improves with accurate knowledge or information. The entire world is shaped by knowledge or ideas. Ideas basically comprise thoughts and emotions. Ultimately, the physical world is an extension of the mental world because everything man-made we see around in the environment today was once an idea existing in somebody’s mind. Others argue that thoughts and ideas are shaped by the physical world or arise as a result of physiological processes and therefore cannot precede physicalism. I don’t know how far that truth can go. There are large areas of the earth inhabited by only vegetation. Thoughts are not real there because plants have no mind to produce thoughts. But we can be sure that within human societies, thoughts, ideas and emotions influence everything human and therefore are the only realities to us. Thoughts, emotions and ideas cannot be perceived, they are perceptions in themselves. All other “realities” are real to us if only perceived.

Happy new year to all my readers. Those who recently followed, welcome to a meaningful and a meaningless blog.

Possibilities

This concerns possibilities in our personal lives and I intend to make it short. Why are some things thought to be possible and others not possible? And yet the opposite often manifests as true. Many of you will remember the door knob in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ when Alice mistook ‘impassable’ for ‘impossible.’ The knob replied: ‘Nothing is impossible.’ I imagine the fuller meaning will be nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. For instance, most people don’t see any kind of possibility or opportunity in Africa but many are also making a living there and Europeans arrive and depart everyday. A few even naturalize. Real opportunities exist only where there are real problems.

Of course there are limits imposed by actuality on us individually but there is always a way out of every difficulty – it just might take some time. How futile and deficient one’s efforts will be if one is looking for a job but already believes that jobs don’t exist – looking for lasting happiness but already believes that happiness is an illusion – looking for genuine love but already believes there is no such a thing as genuine love. It will be impossible. One’s belief system is like a magnetic field, it has to exist and be strong enough to detect and attract what it’s designed to attract.

If we look at our personal lives, everything we have ever achieved is as a result of believing first that, the objective set is achievable. Our field of perception seem stronger and sharper if backed by a strong realistic belief. I’m not speaking of religious jingoism or delusions or infatuation for a pop star, in the case of love. With such strong realistic belief you will not be drawn back by the dark voices that constantly remind you of your past mistakes and tragedies. The more fearful you become in any venture the more errors you will likely commit. And even when it comes to love and relationships, fear and doubt creates misunderstanding. Openness and honesty is key to character.

In the mind, thoughts and feelings are not categorized into social, economic, political etc as we have it in the institutionalized world. So one problem in one aspect of our lives can affect all other areas if not solved. If you were hurt by those who were supposed to love and protect you, still believe you are lovable. If you had an unhappy childhood filled with traumatic events, still believe you can experience peace and happiness and lastly, if you were despised and didn’t get much by way of erudition, still you can earn a living. How else will I know if I had not directly and indirectly experienced most of these. Happy Sunday to all of you! Especially you. You know yourself.

My Mother

 

My mother is 70 years today.

She is till strong, after delivering 7 children.

The last time I visited she started complaining of hearing loss.

She said the nurses refused to wash her ears for her.

And I told her the nurses might be right:

“Your eardrum could be weak and the washing could damage it further.

You should be glad your eyes are still intact.”

Mother can walk about energetically and do everything herself.

And sniff like a cat.

She can smell people miles away and

She knows whether or not any of us bathed before napping

And if you did not, you are sure to receive flogging in middle of the night.

Those were times when training and disciple were mandatory for children.

Now mother is 70  and I hope she gets another 30.

However, sometimes I worry about her memory.

She often speaks of things that happened about 40 years ago,

When I was not even born, as if it happened recently.

I don’t want to believe she has memory loss

Because her accounting is excellent.

Maybe it’s due to the fact that she is and has been a trader all her life.

 

 

Go Where They Need You (2)

If you build houses

Go where there is homelessness.

If you are a healer

Go where there is illness.

If you can teach

Go where there is ignorance.

If you can preach

Go where there is immorality.

If you can lead

Go where there is indiscipline.

If you can sing

Go where there is despair.

If you are rich

Go where people are weak.

If you build bridges

Go where the rivers are.

If you write

Go where there is no truth.

 

(a repost from 2013)

Will and Desire

The permanent and persistent striving for a particular state of internal affairs which is usually reflected outwards – this we will call the “Will.” A person’s will emerges and stays with her or him from childhood until death. For instance Nelson Mandela had a “Will” to Justice. Kwame Nkrumah had a “Will” to Freedom and Self-determination.

Another thing is that it seems the “Will” can never be altered but its methods of fulfillment are what can be changed. Suppose that a person’s will is to become a musician, he will be from infancy, built for language and interested in all kinds of percussion instruments. Nature has ascribed that to him or her as a result of the need to fill a vacuum. Nature always fills a vacuum. The will, as compared to desire, goes down to the root of the individual’s personality and takes longer to fulfill.

From my understanding, “Desire,” is simply a hungering, usually for things that are material for temporary satisfaction. Therefore, here, we have identified some major difference between “Will” and “Desire” and that is, whereas a desire is temporary and volatile the will is permanent. Should we not then prioritize our will over our desires?

Run To Sea

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The monster which one has fought

Is that which one will continue to fight –

If one remains true to oneself.

But you may run to sea if the monster appears again.

Run to sea – bury yourself in the sand –

The cold sand.

Let the brine sweep over you.

And inhale the sweet breeze.

After which you may go back home.

And I guarantee you will feel better.

A lone time spent at seaside is never wasted.