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“A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace”
Ovid

The start of a new year always seems bright and green in prospects, but lest you think this is another wishful writing of a Utopian wonderland, reality is often disheartening — the race is not won by those with wishful thinking, but by those who put their feet on the ground. If there is one thing you need to know this new year, be rest assured that your good plans are only one side of the story. The unknown side will be unravelled day by day. And like horses, speed and strength will thrill or kill.

Focus On Your Weakness
That’s right — it’s not an autocorrect from my keyboard — you need to focus on your weakness. A man is as strong as his weakest link. Difficulties are difficult because they affect the Achilles heels of our lives. Of what use will fortifying a city yield, when it’s sidewalls remain cracked?

It is in the same vein that the biblical parable of the lost sheep emphasises on the need to “abandon” the ninety-nine “perfect” sheep and go in search for the missing one. It initially seems like madness to risk ninety-nine for one, but the basis of the story is that the one lonely sheep is equally important as the other ninety-nine. Of what good will be our vocational prowess if our family life is poor? What good will it yield us if we are the best of teachers, but poor listeners?

If we want to be better this year, we must face our problems first. I’ve never seen a bullfight where the matador loses sight of the bull’s horns — that is simply suicidal!

How Helpful Is Your Past?
For many people, your past is something you leave behind, especially when it’s filled with mistakes and regrets. Really? I don’t think so. A gloomy past is the more reason why the present should be better lived. If we ever try to efface the past, what point of reference do we use to measure improvement?

And come to face it, we never can forget our past. We may only ignore it trying to feign forgetfulness. The more I realise that I am unworthy, the more I work towards being worthy.

The Farmer’s Delight
Of course, the most interesting aspect of farming is the harvest. But which is more important: sowing or reaping? As we begin this year, we’d be almost always thinking of results only: to achieve this or that. But what if this year was all about sowing? Would we be happy with that?

I think we’re all in a rush to achieve results that we forget the “time to sow and time to reap”. Annual crops yield fruits quickly that last only for a while; perennial crops yield fruits slowly that last for over a long time. Learn from the elements of nature.

The Horse and Its Rider
Every rider prides in his horse, but on every occasion he mounts this horse, he is taking a risk: in danger, the horse’s instinct is to throw off any extra load — the rider! In the same vein, opportunities are like horses we mount daily. Succeed, and you win the race; fail, and you get thrown off, back first to the ground. And in both circumstances, we ought to take the responsibility.

There is no opportunity that has a 100% chance of pulling through. The boundary between success and failure is very slim, but it’s the approach that often determines what side we end up with.

The Horse Down the River
We all know that forcing a horse to take a drink is futile. And not only futile, but foolhardy! There may be a thousand ways to kill a rat, but just in case the rat knows all the thousand ways, they become obsolete. In simple terms, problems don’t read textbooks or motivational writings.

There is a time for persistence, and a time to quit — the difference between these two is what separates heroes from zeroes. The problem is that we’ve heard a lot about not giving up, but we’ve not heard quite enough about letting go — not only for negatives, but for positives not good enough. A bird let go, is better than a carcass in hand.

Yes! This is not your novel new year message, but we’d rather live a single day on earth than a thousand years dreaming of a unicorn-filled wonderland.

Luke O. Ogar

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