Showing posts with label TLL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TLL. Show all posts

Ten Life Lessons (TLL) from Trevor Noah's Book: Born a Crime

One John W. Gardner once said "Life is art done without an eraser". Today I list down some 10 life lessons from Trevor Noah's autobiography Born a Crime. I'll do so along with a few steps I took getting to the finished dotted ( pointillism/stippled) art piece I did of him.

The book is a memoir of  his childhood as a biracial in South Africa during apartheid. He was born of a South African Xhosa mother and a Swiss-German father. Interracial relationships were illegal at the time and thus the title Born a Crime. His mother had risked 5 years in prison when she had him.

The book caught my attention and embraced it gently that there was no letting go. I was always looking forward to continuing from where I left of.

The descriptions given in the book are so vivid and African that they resonated so well with me as a Kenyan. Through his words I could feel his joy and his pain and at some point he managed to make me an emotional wreck. A wreck in a good way though, because the point was driven straight home.

Trevor is known for his comedy and it goes without saying that the list will start with something related to laughter and a positive attitude.

 Lesson 1: Look for humor even in the worst of situations

Trevor's step father shot his mother in the head and she miraculously survived.

A few days afterwards in the hospital, his mother was the first one to crack a joke. Trevor was crying by her bedside and she said to him. Don't cry. Look at the bright side: Now you're officially the best-looking person in the family.He bawled his eyes out and laughed hysterically at the same time.

According to Trevor they overcame a lot because of laughter That is why he says he thinks he loves comedy so much. It is what kept his family going through every single type of adversity.

Lesson 2: Nurture your spirituality

At the very beginning of the book we are introduced to Trevor's mother and her strong faith. On Sunday's Trevor mother would take him from the black people's church to the mixed race church and then to the white people's church to attend different services. To her, each of the three Churches offered something unique.  

As I drew close to the end of the book, the vivid expression of the emotions that were felt after Trevor's mother got shot in the head drew tears to my eyes.

I still remember that day I was reading it in a matatu and I had to stop reading it for a while to prevent myself from crying in a bus full of people.I had to take a few deep breathes too in order to calm down. Emotional movies do that to me all the time, but that was the first time a book had evoked such strong emotions in me. 

When someone gets shot in the head and suffers no brain damage and is alive and does not need to go through any surgery because the bullet completely passes through the head, missing all the major organs. It is hard to deny the miracle in that.

Lesson 3: Language unites sometimes even beyond race

In many instances Trevor realized language unites. In the book he says "Maybe I didn't look like you, but if I spoke like you, I was you.

He can be described as a polyglot a person who has mastered multiple languages. He speaks several languages including English, Afrikaans, German, Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho.

Due to his light skin color Trevor got a hard time in school. In order to gain acceptance from the black kids like a chameleon  he would blend well with people when they spoke different languages. When someone spoke Xhosa to him he would reply in Xhosa the same applied to the other South African languages like Tswana and Sotho.

There's one instance Trevor heard a group of guys speaking in their native language planning to mug him. He turned and started speaking their language saying "Yo, guys, why don't we just mug someone together? I'm ready. Let's do it" They looked shocked for a while then they started laughing. The fact that he spoke their language made them change their attitude towards him, they even apologized and told him they thought he was something else.

Lesson 4: Use your gifts and be keen on spotting opportunities

Trevor ran very fast. His naughty nature had helped him improve on his speed. He wrote" Nobody ran like me and my mom. She wasn't one of those come over here and get your hiding type of moms. She'd delivered it to you free of charge." Even if it meant running after him.

This was a gift that he leveraged at school. Immediately after assembly, there would be a race to the tuck shop because the queue to buy the food was so long. Every minute spent on the queue was working against people's break time too.

Trevor was always first in line, so people started going to him to buy things for them in return for some money. He grabbed that opportunity and started telling everyone at assembly to place their orders. He was an overnight success and in his words " Fat guys were my number-one customers. They loved food, but couldn't run."

Fun fact:
 Trevor was a naughty child but luckily unlike his cousins he never got punished by his grandmother. "A black child you hit them and they remain black" she used to tell his mother. "Trevor when you hit him he turns blue and green and yellow and red. I've not seen these colors before I am scared I am going to break him. I don't want to kill a white person."

Here I was working on his mischievous grin

Lesson 5: Fear regret rather than failure

In his own words; " I don't regret anything I've ever done in life, any choice that I've made. But I'm consumed with regret for the things I didn't do, the choices I didn't make, the things I didn't say. We spend too much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection, but regret is the thing we should fear most."

"Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have an answer to. ;"What if?" "If only" "I wonder what would have..." You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days"

Lesson 6: Be comfortable being unique

Imagine yourself living in a land where you are isolated because you are not black enough even though you were born and raised in an African family. You are not white enough because only one of your parents is.

Trevor was able to see and feel what both races went through during apartheid. He could not walk next to his mother in public and at some point his mother had to hire a mixed race lady friend Queen to walk with her and Trevor. So that she looked like Trevor's mother and his real mother would look like his nanny. Trevor could also not call his father Dad. He grew up calling him by his name Robert.

Trevor used his unique qualities to his advantage. He used his language skills to reach all races, he may not have felt like he fit in anywhere during his teenage years but speaking a certain groups language helped him earn trust.  Even to date Trevor says he enjoyed his childhood because it was all he knew. He never felt like he lacked much.

Lesson 7: Even in hardship home is where the heart is

Trevor got tired of seeing his mother abused by his step father. He felt helpless because he did not know how to assist her. They had reported him to the police a couple of times but he had some police friends. So nothing really ever happened to him.

His mother is the key personality in his book and he wrote the following " Finally, for bringing me into this world and making me the man I am today, I owe the greatest debt, a debt I can never repay, to my mother."

Lesson 8: Be better because of your past

Patricia Trevor's mother being a key personality in his book and in his life in general had the following to say" Learn from your past and be better because of your past, but don't cry about your past. Life is full of pain. Let the pain sharpen you, but don't hold on to it. Don't be bitter."

Patricia had gone through a lot but she practiced what she preached. She was never bitter. The deprivations of her youth, the betrayals of her parents, she never complained about any of it.

Lesson 9: Have respect for other people no matter how they treat you in return 

Patricia had suffered a great deal from her husband Abel, Trevor's step father. Trevor was hurt when he saw his mother suffer in Abel's hands. He did not at any point disrespect this vile man though.

It was only when Abel shot his mother that Trevor lost control and called him. At that point he thought his mother was dead. She had been shot in the head so it was hard to imagine she would survive that. Trevor threatened to kill Abel at that moment of rage.

He says " To this day I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know what I expected to happen. I was
just enraged." Clearly Patricia raised Trevor exceptionally well.

Lesson 10: Make the most of your situation

Trevor was hidden from the real world. His innocence as a child hid the truth behind his special treatment. To his young mind he did not think his special treatment was because he was light skinned. When it came to his grandmother to him it was "Trevor doesn't get beaten because Trevor is Trevor.

For a while Trevor did not have friends because he was neither black nor white.He learnt to accept his situation and resorted to living in his head. He would also read a lot while he was a lone. That would eventually make him the awesome author he is today that penned this amazing book. If you are going through a tough time, remember it is there as an opportunity to learn something new. That lesson is bound to stick and will probably help you a whole lot in the future. So hang in their and try to make the most of the situation.

AA (Auspicious Art)
Wendi Mutisya

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Ten Life Lessons (TLL) from Oprah

She is definitely an inspiration to me and that is one of the reasons I decided to draw her. Having taken weeks working on her dotted piece. I feel like I would also like to share some lessons I  have learnt from Oprah over the years.

Lesson 1: Honor yourself and be authentic
Put yourself at the top of the list, honor yourself, nurture yourself. Your being here is miraculous enough and your real job is to honor that and as soon as you figure that out. You will be like "Oh wow wow! I am one of the lucky ones I got to be here.

Fill yourself up and keep your cup full. She used to get offended when people said she is so full of herself but now she embraces it because now she considers it a compliment. It is when you are full that you have so much to offer.

Have fun and smile more

Lesson 2: Remind yourself to relax
If given a chance to say something to her younger self she would say relax it's going to be okay. She said this is because when we feel uneasy that is something telling us that we have to change.  When we feel off course that's our cue. 

We should therefore think of how we will turn around.Through the challenge sit still and ask ourselves what the next right move is. Remembering not  be overwhelmed by it because our lives are more than that one moment.

Step 1

Lesson 3:There's no such thing as an embarrassing moment.
She believed that there is no moment she can possibly experience on air that someone else has not already experienced. Even those that seem very embarrassing. 

When she started out she said this was not true for her because she was more interested in impressing other people than she was doing what she was supposed to do.

The take home here is you can laugh at yourself and you can make a mistake it is not the end of the world. You don't have to be perfect.

Lesson 4: Everyone makes mistakes
Actually there are no mistakes because we all have a supreme destiny. When you don't know that, you get stressed all the time. 

There's a supreme moment of destiny calling on your life. Your job is to hear that and to know that... and sometimes when you are not listening you get taken off track you get into the wrong marriage, the wrong relationship or you take the wrong job but it's all leading to the same path. 

There are no wrong paths. There's no such thing as failure because failure is that thing trying to move you in another direction. So you get as much from your losses as from your successes because your losses are there to wake you up.

If you understand that, you don't allow yourself to be deeply affected by a grade or a by a circumstance because your life is bigger than any one experience. Pay attention to your life. Your life is your greatest teacher. Everything that happens to you makes you go closer to who you are.
Step 2

Lesson 5: You are what you believe
Even as a child to her she was always the smartest kid in the room.That is how she convinced her kindergarten teacher to take her to a different class because she felt like she did not belong there. 

She wrote her a letter and told her she felt she did not belong there because she knew a lot of big words. (It's funnier when you watch her give this story) She was taken to the principals office where she was asked to rewrite those big words. After which she skipped first grade and second grade.

The fundamental key to success is what you believe is true to yourself. You don't get what you wish for or hope for you get what you believe and know to be God's dream for you.

Lesson 6: Learn to listen to your instincts. 
Did you know Oprah never thought of herself running a talk show. In fact in her teen years she wanted to become a teacher. 

She says every time she made a good decision it was because she listened to her inner voice and every time she did not make a good decision it was because she did not listen to it. Do what feels right for you.
Step 3

Lesson 7: Find out why you are here.
Your real job is to discover why you are here and then align your personality with your purpose and nobody can touch you.

Lesson 8: Be here now
Be present every time so that you get the most of every moment.  Stop carrying the past into this moment. Pay attention to the people you interact with and the environment you are in.

Step 4

Lesson 9: In business don't waste too much time looking at what other businesses are doing.

Think of it like a race. The energy it takes for you to look back at the other guys in the race takes energy from you. If they are too close it scares you. It's not about the other guy it is about what you can do.You just have to run that race as hard as you can and give it your all every time for yourself.

Lesson 10: Provide value
She used to complain about the state of Television until a friend mentioned to her that she could start her OWN network. Coincidentally the letters OWN were her initials. She thought it would be nice if she created a network that was about mindful Television.

The thought was scary to her at first and she said she would wake up frightened at night. The reason she pushed on was because she believed people need to have value centered, inspirational programming for themselves.


Step 5: A portrait of Oprah Gail Winfrey

In conclusion Someone once told me about a phrase. The phrase went "blacks don't crack". I liked how the words rhymed but the message behind it made me even happier. The phrase I was told meant that black or dark skinned people do not wrinkle or show age quickly. Having spent a couple of days drawing her and years watching her I totally agree. She is  truly beautiful both inside and out.

AA (Auspicious Art)
Wendi Mutisya

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