Sunday, 4 November 2012

Some handy life tips, Sun Tzu-style.

Hello children. It’s been too long.

That looks really creepy written down so I probably won’t greet you like that ever again, but, honestly, it has been too long. It’s NOVEMBER. I love November. Such a good month. And I wish I could put my lack of contact with you fine people down to copious amounts of work and university applications, but that would be lying. I’ve been partying and drinking and generally wasting my youth like the hoodlum that I am. Ah well.

Anyway. Let’s keep this short so that I can return to that History essay somewhere that I’m supposed to have been writing. Here’s the inspiring quote for the day:

If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you will not be defeated in a hundred battles.

Or something like that. I translated it from the original Chinese myself, of course. Essentially what this ancient sentence from The Art of War is saying is, “When you have a problem, be strategic. Use your strengths and the problem’s weaknesses; figure out where you may have an advantage; don’t rely on brute strength, use the brain that you possess”. I’d like to make several popular culture references to illustrate my point.

Firstly, the opening scene in Gladiator when Russell Crowe totally takes out the German horde and it’s pretty epic. The Romans carefully plan their attack: they choose their position well, they begin with flaming arrows to disorientate and damage their enemy, they charge from an unexpected angle and take the Germans completely by surprise – not to mention an epic motivational speech from the man himself. Basically they know that they can be organised and their enemy is not, and they use this to their advantage. In that scene, Maximus wins an almighty victory.

Another example that occurred to me is the moment when Harry battles the Hungarian Horntail in The Goblet of Fire. Mad-Eye says to Harry, “Play to your strengths”, so Harry flies. Harry also knows that the Horntail will chase him if provoked, so he lures her away from her eggs. Finally, Harry has the advantage of speed and slightness over the dragon’s bulky weight, which means that if he dives for the Golden Egg it’ll take her a minute to work out where he’s gone. He pieces together this knowledge and BAM he’s tied in first place for the Triwizard Cup.

Finally, I’d like to point out the concluding scenes from one of my favourite childhood movies, The Princess Diaries. Mia’s monsters are internal: she lacks self-confidence, mistrusts her friends, and is incapable of choosing the most sensible and pragmatic approach to situations. However, throughout the film, she begins to recognise these weaknesses as well as learning to find her strengths: she is bright, kind-hearted and determined. By knowing her own faults and assets she is able to overcome her fears, address the problems she faces, and eventually becomes Queen of Genovia. And she gets the hot prince.

So really what I’m trying to say is, when you have a problem, don’t stress out or behave like a crazy person. Step back, chill out, use your brain and deal with it carefully and rationally. If more people did this there’d probably be fewer wars. And fewer divorces.

Speak to y’all soon – I hope. I may get dragged back under the dung heap that is Year 13, but I’ll try to keep writing anyways.

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