Red Lips & Battlefields

20 & 1 Lessons of 2013

  1. Every day grants you an opportunity for a new beginning. You do not have to wait for the new year, or the first day of a new week, or your birthday to start making positive changes to your life.
  2. Human beings are complex creatures. We often do not completely understand ourselves, yet we become frustrated when we cannot understand one another. Have patience. Accept the mystery.
  3. A story is never just a story. A movie is never just a movie. Every fictional human experience has been, at one time or another, lived by a real person. Even supernatural fiction is often a metaphorical reflection of reality. Allow yourself to absorb the happiness, the suffering, the spirituality, and the growth of fictional characters: it will make you more human.
  4. Never say that it will never happen to you. Pain, illness, loss, suffering, hunger, and war are all things that can happen to any of us, at any time. Happiness, friendship, love, growth, wealth, safety, and family may also be given to any of us too. Do not take anything for-granted.
  5. It is absolutely your responsibility to know what is going on in the world. If your living condition is relatively safe, it is even more so your responsibility to keep your eyes and your mind on the suffering of others. A slight twist in fate, and you could have been the one without food, without shelter, and without family. Don’t you ever forget it.
  6. It is also your responsibility to help others. You have two hands for a reason: one to guard yourself with and one to lend to others. Remember: what goes around always comes around.
  7. Express gratitude. Without gratitude, there is no life, there is no love and, ultimately, there is no salvation. Be thankful.
  8. Define yourself. People will always seek to describe who you are, and why you are the way that you are. They may also often present such convincing arguments that you begin to believe they know you better than you know yourself. Stop. You, and only you, are a free agent to decide who you are; Not your best friend, not your mother, not a wise stranger, and certainly not your therapist.
  9. Love is abundant. The more you give of it, the more you will have for yourself. You can eat your cake and have it too.
  10. Love is not painful. This is the greatest misconception of human history. Love that is painful is not love. Leave it behind. Seek healing.
  11. Everybody is unique, but nobody is divine. All human beings are worthy of your love, but none are worthy of your worship. Mind the thin line.
  12. If you do not value yourself, nobody will. If you do not respect and love yourself, nobody will. Raise yourself.
  13. The word “no” can sometimes be your best friend. Learn how to say it when it needs to be said. It is not always a virtue to bend yourself backwards for others.
  14. Be headstrong and firm in your values. Do not compromise your values to please others. “Those who stand up for nothing fall for anything” – Alexander Hamilton.
  15. Religion is not evil. Some human behaviors are evil, and many of those behaviors are often rationalized by men yelling the word “god”. However, what’s in a name? Calling an orange an apple does not make it any less an orange. Likewise, calling personal demons “gods” does not make them any less demons, and does not make God any less Godly. Know the difference between names and concepts. Beware of those who seek to confuse you.
  16. Political correctness is a conscious acceptance of public censorship. Be kind and mindful of others, but do not present all your opinions with a sprinkle of fairy-dust on the side. Speak your mind; you have one for a reason.
  17. There is always more to learn. He who knows that he hardly knows anything is the one most open to growth.
  18. First impressions should not be lasting impressions. Nobody over the age of 6 will reveal their true spirit to you upon a first encounter. Dig beyond the superficial, and give everyone a fair chance.
  19. You will constantly change, and the changes will sometimes be so drastic and come so quickly that you will hardly recognize yourself. Welcome these experiences with open arms: they are the building blocks of your life.
  20. You are wonderful, but you are not any better than anyone else. You are worthy, but you are not divine. Strip yourself of social status, of physical beauty, of material wealth, and recognize your mortality. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:12.
  21. Take your homeland with you wherever you go. When you forget who you are, it will remind you.

MD 30/12/2013

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