I found this post in my drafts. Wrote it back in 2015 (4 years ago!?!)
Decided it was worth publishing. I reckoned that this was probably already on my Facebook page back then too.
Looking back at this post now, I probably would write different lessons now but that’s probably for another post.
Here it is, as I wrote it in 2015.
It was my dad’s birthday yesterday. He just turned 83 years old. I thought of writing 83 things that I learned from my dad but then realized that’s quite a lot. So, I typed out 35 lessons from my dad in celebration of his birthday.
He didn’t tell me all these things.
- Some of it are my observations of what he did.
- Some of it are side effects of growing up and sleeping in library masquerading as a house.
- Some of it is probably more of his influence on me than something he actually does.
- My dad is an artist so he is full of contradictions and mystery.
- He’s also very funny. (Sometimes!)
A lot of this is about writing, learning and creating art. Here it goes…
35 lessons I Learned From My Poet Dad
1. Read to learn new things
2. Think beyond what is obvious from the movies you watch
3. Work on your craft daily
4. Keep working on your art for your entire life
5. Invest in books to learn
6. Tell jokes, it’s okay (he tells them all the time)
7. Batch the books you read according to category or author to maximize your understanding of the topic or style
8. Copy an entire chapter of a book by hand or type it out to have an idea of how long a chapter is
9. Use different highlighters when you’re reading a book to mark different important bits
10. Learn how to do nothing, remember to do nothing sometimes
11. Think about what you’re meant to do, do it
12. Walk (my dad walks a lot)
13. When you draw something, be confident so that the lines look clear
14. Use index cards to organize large pieces of information, this is how he organizes places and people for his novels
15. Every experience – good or bad, happy or sad – is enriching for an artist
16. Be persistent
17. It’s okay not to know everything, you can always learn more about it
18. The universe is full of repetition – this is the structure of the world
19. Read books when you’re commuting
20. Look beyond the obvious
21. Learn to read music (he suggested classical guitar lessons to me when I started out – it proved to be very useful)
22. It’s okay to not understand something at the beginning (he bought me an issue of Guitar World back when I had no idea what a pentatonic scale was much less a Symetrical Augmented scale)
23. Play music with emotion (he told me I had no emotion in my playing years ago when I was practicing Cavatina – I was upset and decided to lock myself in my room to practice until I played it better)
24. Learn from the best, if you have to read only a few books – only read the very best.
25. A cafe is not just the food and drinks, it’s the atmosphere. (I still like going to cafes, sip on coffee or tea and hang out there because of this.)
26. Observe the haters, then ignore them and continue to work on your craft
27. Keep creating new work, write new music
28. From life, create art. (I like how I worded this – not sure whether he would)
29. Appreciate your teachers who shaped you into who you are
30. Read Hemingway to learn how to be concise (I still haven’t learned this)
31. Read Dr. Zhivago to understand about his first novel (read it halfway a long time ago)
32. I learned about JD Salinger, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Paulo Coelho from my dad. Love JD Salinger and Paulo Coelho’s works a lot.
33. Write in rhyme.
34. Literature and poetry is about capturing and reimagining life in a beautiful words that paint imagery in your mind. An essay is to just tell it. (My words, paraphrasing what he’s told me before)
35. Be curious and learn what excites you.
Happy birthday dad!
Feb 9, 2015
Catch me next at Rumah Seni Selangor this Saturday on May 4th at 2pm!