On 11/9, just three days after President Obama’s re-election, we learned the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus over an extra-marital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
These Chinese words came to my mind as I watched the news on TV. Of course, Bill Clinton’s affair surfaced in my head, too. He was full of remorse and penitence when he announced his decision to step down. I feel sad that a general ended his highly luminary career in such a disgrace.
Here’s the highlights in his career.
Graduated from West Point in 1974
Commander of Multinational Force Iraq, Feb 2007 to Sept 2008
Commander of International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan, July 2010 to July 2011
CIA director in Sept 2011 to 11/9/2012
I cannot understand how a hero or a President falls before a beauty instead of his enemy. Here’s another lesson for people to learn and to remember.
October 5, 2011 saw the departure of Steve Jobs, a legendary figure, looming larger than life in the hearts of billions. People poured out from every corner of the world to mourn over this loss. They don’t need to know the details of his life. They cherish the image.
He left young, yet he had lived like no one had before. He was a comet, exerting all his energy and illuminating the world as he disappeared in the universe.
Better than a comet is the legends and legacy that he left for the living and for future generation, which will live on as long as human history. The world will miss him.
Continue from yesterday’s.
On first reading, Darwin’s words seem to reveal a touch of regret for not having read poetry or listened to some music, which had diminished the amount of happiness that he could have enjoyed and much more… I don’t think he knew what he was talking about.
First of all, he would not change a tiny bit if he had to live his life again. His life was determined and driven by his character and what he observed and experienced in his life. If he observed and experienced the same thing next time around, he would live the same life.
Secondly, throughout Darwin’s life, he had worked unremittingly, being motivated by a higher order of calling, undergoing tremendous hardships, gathering mountains of information in order to understand human evolution. For what he had gone through and what he had accomplished, he must have his moment of joy and his level of happiness, which no trivial mind can understand and enjoy.
In our lives, we all pursue our definition of happiness. For some, money makes them happy; for others, achievement and accomplishments; for some others, discovery and innovation. Regardless of these differences, reading poetry and listening to music are the side orders to the main entree, adding a finish touch to the total feeling of our happiness. Even for a poet or musician, he/she feels the real joy at the moment of creating them.
A few weeks ago, while reading Will Durant’s The Lessons of History, I found it necessary to read something about Charles Darwin. So I did, just want to find out how dreadfully boring Darwin could be.
Darwin’s laser-focused concentration on human evolution had changed his mind. Consequently, his “mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.” And as he recalled, “for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry… almost lost any taste for pictures or music.”
However, he said, “If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”
What do you think of this? To be continued…
Zero Regrets: Be Greater Than Yesterday by Apolo Ohno, 2010. Having read it, I told my daughter it was worth reading. But she did not have the time for it. Hence, I told her, “Well, you don’t have to read the whole book, as long as you understand and keep in mind the following quote and by the end of the day, you can say ‘Zero regrets.'”
“Zero regrets. It’s a philosophy not just about sport but about life. School, business, academics, love- anything and everything. It’s complicated and yet not. You have to figure out who it is you want to be. Not what you want to be—who.
“There has to be a vision, a dream, a plan. Then you chase that with everything you’ve got. That means you have to put in the work, the practice, the training. There aren’t any shortcuts. If you want something, you have to be 100 clear in how you plan to get it. You have to be relentless in your pursuit.” p. 2
I know not many of us can say zero regrets when we look back. The best we can do is to try to reduce our level of regrets.
A man was invited to a writer’s gathering. He saw a young woman dressed simple, with modest appearance. The man thought she must be a novice in the field, asking her,
“Are you a professional writer?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Do you have any magnum opus? Can you show me a few of them?” he asked her.
“I have only written novels, no magnum opus,” she said,
“In this case, we are colleagues. I have published 339 novels. How many have you published?” he asked.
“Only one? Can you tell me the title of your novel?” he asked.
“Gone with the Wind,” was the answer.
The man was floored, speechless.
So many years have passed. That man has never made himself known to the world, but the world will always remember Margaret Mitchell.
On 6/7, one of my colleagues in her late 30s said to another one in her 20s, “I am too old now. If I were your age, I would…” Every time I heard people saying how old they were, I thought of Nelson Mandel. The story of Nelson Mandel has been known to all.
7/18/1918, born, happy birthday!
1962, aged 44 years old, in prison
1990, aged 72, out of prison
1993, aged 75, Nobel Peace Prize.
1994, aged 76, served as President of South Africa
1999, aged 81, left office
When I think of Nelson Mandela, I think of the word indomitable, the quality with which he has never given up fighting despite of all the obstacles, including his age. Of course his belief in his cause has motivated him along the way.
Perhaps an unshakable belief and an indomitable spirit is what most of us need in our pursuits.