Kanye West taught me how to live.

“I met Kanye West, I’m never going to fail”.

I’ve never had a harsh childhood. My parents were very good parents, God Bless, and have always wanted the best for me. There’s been a fair share of living the typical Asian kid lifestyle: Curfews to return home, focus on academics, submission to authority — but in hindsight, it came from a place of love. Discipline, Peace, and Respect are what I’d call the pillars of Asian or at least Indian style of parenting. And I’d say according to these, I was a good kid: Never an argument against the elders, focus on academics and mostly someone who was travel-averse.

That changed with my freshman year of University. Authorities didn’t sit well with me, Academics, as a result, suffered heavily, and I felt I was caged in a system I did not enjoy. There needs to be an element of joy to instill discipline, and academics needs discipline, not smarts.

Despite my lack of values that a traditional Indian society would deem appropriate, outside of academics, I did feel a sense of freedom, I found what I liked and there were certain personal milestones I achieved, that was a success to me, it was my definition of success. And while this was not solely because I listened to Kanye West, I do find some ideas of Kanye so revolutionary yet so true, that they struck a chord with me. Give me your undivided attention and I will show you how.

Nothing in life is promised except death.

Death is often one of the most romanticized events of our life — Over Birth, Coming of Age, Sex, Drugs, Alcohol — Nothing ever hits us quite like Death. Poets sit in bars writing about Death. Death can be honorable, Death can be tragic, Death can be scary, and Death can be final. From Marcus Aurelius to Gary Vee, everyone has some of the other versions of this Kanye quote.

Stoics often refer to this as Momento Mori. Memento Mori roughly means: Remember, you will die.

Steve Jobs, on Death

When I first heard of this, a sense of dread and existentialism washed over me: “I don’t want to die, what is the purpose of life if it means that it will all end?”

But in the recent past, I have started to appreciate this more, and more. My view on this right now is that I must push to accomplish all I can in the now, because life is uncertain, death is not.

Some tales state that in Roman times, when warriors came back from war, the general would have someone whisper in his ears as he wore the crowd:

Respice post te. Hominem te memento.

Or “Look after you [to the time after your death] and remember you’re [only] a man.”. In The Guide to a Bodhisattva's way of life, Shantidev states:

कृताकृतापरीक्षोऽयं मृत्युर्विश्रम्भघातकः।

This roughly translates to “Death does not differentiate between tasks done and undone”. We don’t have the time we think we have. Shantidev further goes on to say:

अप्रिया न भविष्यन्ति प्रियो मे न भविष्यति।
अहं च न भविष्यामि सर्वं च न भविष्यति॥

Or “My enemies will not remain, nor will my friends remain.
I shall not remain. Nothing will remain.”

Throughout history, throughout time, this has been repeated. Death is uncertain but natural, everyone will have to face it, but how do you deal with everything between your birth and your death determines what you will be remembered for after your death.

“Death, like birth, is just a natural process, material elements combining, growing, decaying and finally separating and completely dispersing.”
— Marcus Aurelius

Gary Vaynerchuk always said this, and I paraphrase: Life is not about how many Ferraris you have, it is about how many people show up at your funeral. It is one of the darkest, most jarring yet most inspirational facets of life. We are one Gamma Ray burst away from Death. With all this Coronavirus hubbub around, you don’t know when the end is coming. Live how you want to live, but live with a purpose. You have one life, decide your priorities, and make it worth it.

Memento mori. Gravestone inscription (1746). Edinburgh. St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard.

I’m not comfortable with comfort.

The entire quote is:

“I’m not comfortable with comfort. I’m only comfortable when I’m in a place where I’m constantly learning and growing.” — Kanye West

Personally, I am a Computer Science undergraduate. There is no end to learning in my field or any field. I was very comfortable with Design, but I did not want to be a Designer — It was a means to an end. So then I moved to Web Development, but I didn’t want to be just a Web Developer, so I moved to Blockchains — Now I am moving to learn older languages, newer languages, learning the math and the physics behind things — It is one of the most exciting things.

If you are here, I am 100% certain that comfort bores you.

What if you could eat only one dish for life? You’d rather not do that. I know you feel the same about your job, and about your school. Comfort begets Stagnation. Stagnation begets dullness. Dullness begets Depression.

It doesn’t have to be as big as getting on a plane and sky diving. It can be as small as learning that one new language you wanted to learn or learn the new cool thing in your field, don’t be afraid to be the first one to do it.

For me, apart from my field I am wildly fascinated by Russian, African and Chinese languages, histories, and philosophies, so I put in some time every day to learn them. I am also very comfortable writing technical blogs, this is my first non-Technical blog: I’ll be honest, It is not a good feeling, but it is exciting as fuck.

Kanye West moved from beats to rap, then to fashion and now he is trying to build sustainable living ideas. I have tried a lot of things to find something to live for, you have not. Go try out whatever the fuck you want to try — No one will remember it in 100 years, which is a blink of an eye considering how long Earth has survived. This circles back to Momento Mori.

Learning and Challenging myself has been the greatest gift I have given myself. Give it a try.

Because my life is dope and I do dope shit.

Arrogance is a virtue. Hear me out:

Insecurity is a human truth, everybody is insecure. No one gives a fuck about your insecurity because we all only care about ourselves. We spend fuckton amount of time looking at the mirror to dress average but then we don’t give a fuck about any averagely dressed person on the streets.

Arrogance is beautiful. Arrogance can seem annoying, but it gets you noticed. Over time I went from being confident to being arrogant, and this all the while I lose: Grades keep falling, Rejected from 10+ companies, Rejected from some important programs etc..

But I get rejected because I try, my hit to miss ratio is horrible because I try, but when I hit, it’s a fucking jackpot. I know what makes me happy, I define my success for myself, and I continuously aim to hit the target. I miss a lot, but these failures have always taught me so much, it makes me immune to the fear of failure. I hate failure, it leaves a bad aftertaste, but I don’t fear it. If you are confident, you will be respected. If you treat yourself with respect, you will be respected.

“People always tell you ‘Be humble. Be humble.’ When was the last time someone told you to be amazing? Be great! Be awesome! Be awesome!”
Kanye West

Humility is amazing, don’t get me wrong. Don’t be an asshole, be practical in your arrogance. Aggressive in your confidence. Be sure of yourself that you can do what you set your mind to. It is NOT impossible. If Mary Kom can become the greatest fucking boxer despite her condition, you can definitely build that software you always wanted to build.

I was terribly fat and slow in school, but I managed to run decently. I am in no way a Kipchoge, but I am not slow like a turtle anymore.

“I always feel like I can do anything. That’s the main thing people are controlled by: thoughts and perceptions of yourself…If you’re taught you can’t do anything, you won’t do anything.” — Kanye West

People on drugs have walked after being shot. If you count your pushups, you will always struggle with the last one. If you count your benches, your hands will tremble at the last lift. Thoughts limit you, let go and be aggressive.

I care. I care about everything.

“I care. I care about everything. Sometimes not giving a f#%k is caring the most.” — Kanye West

We are all ridiculed by insecurities. I once heard this interesting take that if you enter a room, the first thing you notice about people is what you are insecure about. In the movie “8 Mile”, in the final rap battle, Eminem lays out his insecurities before the rival and absolutely fucks him over to one of the most Gangsta beat. The crowd goes nuts.

Kanye West is a very rich man, and very successful. Here’s something he said.

“We all self-conscious. I’m just the first to admit it.” — Kanye West

Everybody cares for at least something in life. For some it has been themselves, for others it is their reputation. Some are selfless in caring about others: Mothers are a great example of this, so are soldiers.

This doesn’t mean you have to break down in the middle of the street. Be careful with what and who you care for, and be eloquent in displaying it. Remember, Everybody cares.

I feel that I’m very blessed.

Gratitude is the fuel of life. Gary Vee has always been big on this. Gratitude is one of the secrets to a happy life. The chance to live is in itself one of the greatest joys of life. If you have the internet to read this, you are wildly blessed.

You are blessed. The cliche quote “Every locked door opens a door of new opportunity” is a standard of truth. On the day I am writing this: 126,748 people have died worldwide. I am not one of them. Before you woke up, a hundred thousand people died, you were not one of them. You are given another chance. Fuckin’ appreciate it and honor it.

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” — Haruki Murakami

The best poems come from the plane of pain, the most important scientific breakthrough happened in the dire times of need. You can do this, count your blessings, and move forth. You have your problems and people in the past had theirs, everybody has problems that might not seem as grave but hurt the person equally. You might not have the best headstart in life, but you can read English and have the internet. You are richer than you think.

“You can’t look at a glass half full or empty if it’s overflowing.” — Kanye West

These were some takeaways from the life of Kanye I have. I understand I don’t have a lot of experience, or I might be very privileged compared to you, but these stories come not from me, not from Kanye, but Kings who had less than what an average man today does. An average college student lives in more comfort than the Richest man from civilizations that these ideas come from. Don’t undersell yourself.

Here’s to a better tomorrow.

Hi, thanks for reading 🙋‍♂️.

I am Abhinav, and I write every day about more than just Life and Kanye West. If you enjoyed reading this article, show me some love 💝 and give me a clap 👏. It means the world to me 🌍 and helps me be motivated to write more, and more, and more.

Research Intern @ Persistence.one

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