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Selected Aphorisms

(Musings of a Thinker)

Oluwole Komolafe

Books @ Sages Den Limited

Also by Oluwole Komolafe

Sayings Of The Great Masters Of Wisdom

(The Book Of Wisdom And Knowledge)

The Enigma: Rumblings And Ramblings Of A Thinker

(Co-Author: Iyabo Arinola Awokoya)

Thoughts On Granite: African Wisdom And Philosophical Reflections on life

Colloquies: The African Poet, the African Philosopher, and the African Physicist: A discourse

Adventures of A Country Boy In The City

The Lonely Ones Among Us


To: "My Dearest Ones:"

Rhoda Omotunde Komolafe (Mrs.)

Yewande Komolafe

Aramide Komolafe

And in Loving and Evergreen Memory of:

Olumide Komolafe, September 15, 1979 - July 8, 1999.

Copyright Oluwole Komolafe, 2012.

The right of Oluwole Komolafe to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright Act 2001.

All rights reserved.

No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publishers.

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Wherever I went I have always written the sentence: "O.K was here."

I first started writing this sentence over 50 years ago on the doors of restrooms in all the schools I attended.

I later wrote the sentence on walls of public buildings and on public places in parks, and even on the sand at beaches. I wrote the sentence everywhere I went, in each country I visited, sometimes, engraving the words on fresh concrete and on stone pavements to give it permanency. I even got the words written on my behalf and stuck in the Wailing walls in Jerusalem.

Over the years this sentence became my signature tune through which I identified and introduced myself to the world around me. Altogether, I must have written these words in over 20,000 different locations all over the world. In addition to writing these words, I always tried to leave a lasting positive impression on whoever I met.

This short book of aphorisms represents my spontaneous thoughts on issues about man, about life in general, and about practical wisdom based on my personal experiences in life and the knowledge I gained from the numerous books I have read. Selected Aphorisms: Musings Of A Thinker was put together during my vacation in the U.S.A between July 8, 2011 and September 9, 2011, the longest vacation which I ever indulged myself. It goes to say if I have more time to write, I would probably be more productive in my cerebral works.

My wife and I spent quality time with our children in New York and Chicago and we took some time off to visit family members and friends in Atlanta, Georgia.

This collection of Aphorisms partially represents my thoughts as I completely took my mind off routine work and duty back home in Nigeria and ruminated during my quiet long walks along the peaceful beaches of Lake Michigan and as I sat, book in hand, in the beautiful Parks on benches in Chicago.

With age, I have overcome the temptation to engage in such frivolous activities as writing in public places as described above. Instead of writing my usual sentence of "O.K was here,"

I have been able to compile my thoughts into this short book with the intention of etching my thoughts on the hearts of my readers, hoping that they will benefit from my life lessons. It is my hope that I will reach a larger audience with this book than I ever did with my signature tune of "O.K was here."

I will continue to be relevant in whatever capacity in the world around me and I will do positive things to let all the people I interact with know that I once met them. I will not fade off from the heart and memory of men and from the face of the earth as if I was not part of this day in eternity.

I will leave my mark in the world and do more than winning the rat race in the struggles of this world. If all one does is to win the rat race, one will still remain a mere rat at the end of the race! The world will not forget that I was here.

This compilation of my thoughts on issues that generally affect the life of man is a way of leaving my mark in New York, Chicago and Atlanta reminiscent of my visit to these cities as a way of saying, OK was here.

Oluwole Komolafe,

Lagos Nigeria.

1. That Future Is Today

Develop hindsight to know where you are coming from, foresight to know where you are going, and insight to illuminate your soul to plan for what heights you could attain in the future.

Do not see only with your eyes. See also with your mind, for while the eyes see sight, the mind sees vision. Sight is all about the present, the here and now, but vision is about the unknown and the future.

Youth talks of the future as some far away distant time, not realising that by the time Youth reaches a certain age that much talked about and carefully planned future has become the present. Future then emerges, first in the form of an adolescent, and then suddenly age stalks in, frail and leaning heavily on a staff, to adorn Youth with the toga of “an elder.”

Are you today that person you dreamed you would become in future? Did that future which has now become the present make the realisation of your dreams possible?

This new day is part of the future you planned in the past. This very minute is an infinitesimal part of the future you carefully planned for. This very minute of July 2011, as the clock ticks away in seconds, minutes and hours, can never be relived again once this day has gone into the abyss of eternity. Face therefore the realities of life and assimilate life’s teachings! Life can only be lived forwards and not backwards. I urge you to look therefore, not to the past but to look forward to better days ahead. Man will continue to plan for the future, but the past is out of our hands and already written in indelible ink on the slate of life.

2. Ten Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

I have always been intrigued by German war tactics and their “Art of War.” There is much to learn from Moltke, Helmut Karl Bernhard, Graf Von; Clausewitz Carl Von, and other German generals.

During the First and Second World Wars, Germans, presumably, as a result of the practical application in its simplest form of the theoretical war models built by their military scholars, were said to employ the tactics of fighting say, ten kilometres into the enemy territory and then they would tactically withdraw say, two to three kilometres. To engage the enemy in combat with success, gain ten kilometres of the enemy territory, and then to tactically withdraw, yielding back to the enemy already conquered land, seemed a curious method of warfare.

Why make an advance only to be followed by a retreat? The method seems most uncanny. Germans, as we know them, will never do something without a sound reason to support their actions. The art of retreat as we will see was itself a strategy to allow for an appraisal of the situation.

By the next onslaught after carefully appraising which parts of their operations needed to be improved upon; and after estimating the strength and weaknesses of their enemies; the sufficiency of their armament, the supply and communication artillery, German Generals and Strategists would further assess what they did right or wrong at their first onslaught and considering other important information, the Germanic army’s next move would be a daring onslaught: a devastating and successful sweeping twenty kilometres into the enemy territory that would now retain the land conquered and leave the enemy reeling in shock.

Failure or success should equally be evaluated. If we did not meet our goal, we should find out what went wrong with our planning and execution of the programme. If we met the set goals, we should examine and appraise what we did right to make us able to always repeat the success.

Can we learn from the German war strategy? To me, this is the life lesson that the German strategy of warfare has taught us. I believe that the strategy when to advance, when to retreat, and when to advance even more boldly, is relevant in life encounters as it is in warfare. A man who attempts something and then retreats, may be gathering energy for the next onslaught. Even in a simple mundane activity like hanging a picture on the wall, do what I call the “step back look” to make sure that the picture is not tilted to one side and that it is hanging straight on the wall. It is a weak man indeed who will retreat into nothingness and will never make a second onslaught.

So what do I think we should all do?

The campaign of German war strategy, relevant as it is in warfare can be valuable and can also be of general application even in peacetime, in sports and in business encounters.

To apply this strategy to your personal life, look back at the last twenty years of your life, reflect and assess what you did right and what you could improve upon. As much as our expectation of the next twenty years is not necessarily a direct projection of what the last twenty years was, you can make amends in your life learning from the strategies of the German Generals.

3. Do Not Ask "Why," Ask "Why Not"

Curiouser and curiouser Alice said in Wonderland! Everything in Wonderland appeared to be different to what she was used to. But was this difference something disadvantageous? Alice thought not.

The world loves people who fit into the status quo. So human beings all try to adapt and usually, adaptation means copying each other and being afraid to be different. Not being different means not being able to cause change in the order of things.

I spent time observing the world around me and came to the conclusion that when we all sleep facing the same direction, we will all see the same things; same scenery, same walls of impossibilities, same mountains, same valleys, same doors of opportunities, and consequently, have similar dreams. The only person that sees things in a different way will be that one person, the aberrant, that one person who dares to sleep facing the opposite direction. For a start, he may see his world turned upside down. He may have problems fathoming out how to interpret his environment. But sooner or later, he too, like the others will adapt to his situation from the uniqueness of his position and learn and get used to seeing a pyramid resting on its head. He will see things differently from the others.

What lessons and morals are we to take from this notion? We must not be afraid to take a contrary position from the norm. We must learn to turn our pyramid on its head and become an expert at upside down thinking. We must not stop at asking “why?” We must dare to see things in a different way and from another perspective, and advance always to the next level by asking: “Why not?” In other words, we must not stop at the orange, we must make orange juice. We must transform the palm fruit to palm oil. We must dare to beg to be different even in the assembly of our superiors!

4. Dare To Be Different

Run and own your own race.

Do not look right or to the left at others in the same race.

Worst still, do not look back at the one in close pursuit.

Run, not caring how well you are doing compared to others.

Wavering, you may stumble, miss your rhythm, and fall.

Dare to be different!

Dance and own your own dance.

Let the one on the left and the one on the right dance.

For, while they thus dance in their own style,

They might be dancing to some music different from yours.

Dance to your own inner music as you hear it.

Dare to be different!

March to your own marching beat.

Others may hear, ‘’left, right, left right',

While you, the aberrant may hear your inner beat

Ordering you; forward march: right, left, right, left.

Rebel, and march to your own inner beat.

Dare to be different!

In a race, winners are judged as first, second, and third.

Winners in a marathon are all those that cross the finishing line.

In life's journey, there are times to run your race as a race

And times to run to get to the finishing line, as in a marathon.

In order to choose to do the one or the other,

Dare to be different.

5. Indolence Of The Mind

The Peruvian Indians had been isolated in their little community for a very long time and did not know the existence of other communities and also did not pay attention to changes in the environment around them. They were peasant farmers; their occupation being that of rearing domesticated animals and keeping vegetable farms at the subsistence level. They were naïve people, oblivious of other worlds and they paid dearly for their myopia as they were conquered by their enemies.

When they were about to be attacked and conquered by the Spaniards, the attackers came in a ship. On seeing the mast of the ship, the peasant farmers of Peru, who had never seen a ship and who did not understand anything about geography and the round shape of the earth, saw the colourful mast of the ship of the approaching Spaniards first, and mistook the masts for a rainbow.

Instead of preparing for war and defending themselves, they saw the rainbow as signals from heavenly bodies and offered sacrifices to appease the gods.

Instead of training and shooting their arrows like archers, they put down their weapons and worshipped them, hoping that some supernatural powers will be evoked from the weapons to fight their cause.

Their magico-religious belief un-bent the bow of their minds as they bent their bodies low in worship and did not see the need to stand on their feet and confront their enemies. Because they did not pay attention to changes in their environment, they were subdued and captured as slaves.

So now I ask of myself and of you, my readers; do we pay enough attention to changes in our environment and see impending changes approaching? Or are we gradually becoming slaves to the traditions and culture of the society we live in without being aware that myopia has set it? How much have we allowed peer pressure or tradition to subdue and conquer our ego and personality? Will what you do in your present environment be acceptable standard of behaviour and practice somewhere else?

6. Game-Plan Of Survivors

Knowledge develops usually from experiments. The curious mind is that which inquires always. The make-up of scientists and Psychologists is curiosity.

Psychologists used to perform the following experiment to demonstrate the effect of gradual changes in an environment on individuals.

Two buckets are filled with water, one at room temperature and the other with hot water. A frog is let into the bucket with water at the room temperature and the frog could be seen swimming leisurely in the water.

The frog is taken out and dropped suddenly into the bucket with hot water. The frog swims widely about in the water showing, that it is uncomfortable in the hot water. The frog is then taken out and put back in the cold water and slight heat is applied to the bucket to raise the temperature, gradually.

The frog does not notice the gradual increase in temperature and eventually it gets cooked after some time. The change in temperature happened gradually and the frog did not notice the changes in the environment.

Gradual change in the environment is difficult to notice and people who are not observant may get consumed by the change.

Most times, we are like the frog. Gradual change in our environment happens unnoticed till eventually these changes consume us. Survivors are those who anticipate change and have developed strategies for coping with change since the world around us is in a state of flux, constantly changing.

7. Law Of Opposites

To make an impact, one must ruminate on matters over and over. One must turn things face up and face down, learn and master how to stand and balance the pyramid on its head, be a permanent Seeker after the Truth, and look within and without, looking not only with the eyes, but also look with the mind. The eyes see sight, while the mind sees vision. In our daily supplications, our prayer must be: “Lord, give us victory and the inspiration to fire our vision and our dreams.”

Consequently, I have devised my own contrary order and I call it the “Law of Opposites.” It simply directs that I remain my own self and not be one with the crowd all the time. I came to this order as a result of my observations of different peoples world-wide.

I have come to realise that when most people are going in one direction, I must take the opposite direction in order to make an impact and bring about change.

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