Essays

Hey blog readers,
Off to Italy by way of London… taking the essentials – Nigerian passport, and guitar. The blog posts will be less frequent during my vaycay, but I’ll be posting photos of my adventures on the blog. See you soon.
– Chuba

 

Content

How to multitask effectively
Life lessons from Michelangelo
Nerves… how to deal with them
Finding what you love
How to curb your appetite
How to strengthen your immune system
Bored? This might be why…
Watch your mouth!… Strategies for protecting your teeth
In the shoes of another…
Men, be “nice” to your wives
You are what you eat. Wait… is that really true?
Thoughts on prioritization
How to avoid procrastination
Is genius a product of talent or effort?
Why the “bleep” are we here?
The 5 stages of personal transformation.
Power… stop giving yours away. Own it.
The magic of intuition
The 7 deadly realities
How to deal with toxic people
Death – the ultimate equalizer
Practical tips to avoid athletic injury
Are our senses designed to fool us?
The silliness of racial bigotry
The importance of gratitude
The most important resource we have is…
The very best of friends are…
Maintaining a healthy cash flow in life
Rules of the masculine gender: how to keep your man happy
Speculations on the impending era of artificial intelligence
9 tips to guitar mastery
Repairing sexually induced societal scars
Knowledge is power… wait, is that really true?
How to lose weight effectively
Being Broken
How to give a great public speech
Rules of the feminine gender: How to keep your lady happy
The holiest of all wars
Nigeria: West Africa’s Sleeping Giant
The beauty of human emotion
Be formless, shapeless… be like water
In search of the ultimate virtue…
Life’s lessons from Steve Jobs
A Loner’s Manifesto: Blessed are the Introverted
10 Strategies for maintaining your health
Transcending Your Fears
The Green Smoothie – Gimmicky Green Sludge? or Human Rocket Fuel?
God vs Darwin
Is ignorance really bliss?
How to get really good at (fill in the blank)
The dangerously seductive unavailable person…
Why should we eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds? They taste awful.
What is the purpose of Life?
Why do we keep repeating the same mistakes?

The Green Smoothie – Gimmicky Green Sludge? or Human Rocket Fuel?


Green Fruit & Vegetable Smoothie
Green Fruit & Vegetable Smoothie

At times, I can still hear my mother’s voice in my head saying “Chuba you can’t leave the table until you finish your vegetables”. And like you (probably), I resented it. I hated vegetables because they were either terribly bitter, or didn’t taste like anything. I couldn’t understand why an otherwise wonderful human being would often torture me by insisting I eat the very things she knew I didn’t like. As I grew older, I noticed that many doctors and naturopaths in the healing community also spoke of the virtues of vegetables. We’ve all heard the rallying cries: “Eat your vegetables regularly because they are good for you”. “You should have nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day”. “Each person requires 9 cups of green vegetables each day to stay healthy”. Although people continually point out the many health benefits of vegetables as a strong reason to consume them regularly, very few seem to be able to precisely explain why they are so good for you. This perceived weakness in the pro-vegetable consuming argument was what I used for several years to convince myself that the whole “eat your vegetables” rhetoric was just a load of bollocks concocted by sadistic adults who took offense to the freedom young people enjoy. So on and on I went, feeding my body whatever the heck I wanted for many years until I came to my senses just shy of my 30th birthday.

In my early 20s, I was a seasoned “snackologist” with a heavy specialization in sweets. I often joke with my closest friends that even though I spent many years in school studying science and engineering, they were actually just hobbies. The core exercise of all those years of schooling was kicking a soccer ball around and perfecting my ability to eat an inordinate amount of sugar laden snacks. On most typical days, I would have a slice of cake in the morning right before soccer practice, wash down half a pizza with a ton of coffee for lunch, and indulge in 2 cheeseburgers and fries for dinner. I was young, extremely fit, and without a legitimate care in the world. My body functioned perfectly and I had total control over it. I rarely ever got ill for the better part of a decade and never really set foot in a dentist’s office. On the surface, everything was all hunky dory and I remained impervious to injury or serious illness for many years. I bossed soccer games and could get up to 24 repetitions of a 200lb bench press over 3 sets even though I weighed a mere 185lbs. For all practical purposes, I was invincible… in my own head at least.

In my mid 20’s, some cracks in my physical suit of armor (my body) started to show. The signs of inadequate nutrition started to manifest as cryptic SOS messages from my body which I ignored. I started experiencing migraine attacks after intense soccer matches and sparring sessions and noticed a general decline in my immune system’s defense to the common cold. I also suffered a painful groin injury in addition to the multitude of niggling injuries I was carrying. Each time I got one of these signals, I would do the required course of medication and/or physical therapy to patch myself up just well enough to keep going. In spite of what in retrospect seems like a plethora of glaring warning signals, I never took the time to delve deep and uncover a root cause. Little did I know that the damage I was accumulating because of my own hubristic neglect of proper nutrition would have a devastating effect just before my 4th decade on earth began.

A couple of months shy of my 28th birthday, I was in the middle of a sublime game of soccer on a beautifully manicured field in Palo Alto. I was in the “zone” and bossing the game until I freakishly tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and fell to the turf in a crumpled heap. As devastating as the injury was, it was even more frustrating because it wasn’t caused by any outside force or physical contact. I literally tore my ligament during a simple deceleration event… albeit from top speed. When I finally pushed past the anger and depression caused by this serious injury, I went into a deeply introspective mode in an attempt to uncover its root cause. Although I tried hard to ignore it, one specific topic kept coming back to me in my meditation sessions as a possible cause of the apparent weakness of my ACL. And that topic was good nutriton… or in my case, the lack thereof.

It turns out mother was right about regularly eating vegetables (it’s really annoying how often what your parents tell you in youth seems to ring increasingly true the older you get). I finally accepted that I had to somehow get more vegetables in my diet but how was I going to do that? I hated the taste and sight of them. I passively aggressively procrastinated for a couple of months until I saw a TV infomercial one morning during one of my full body stretch sessions. It was about a strange mini blender called a nutribullet which allows you to turn any combination of vegetables and fruits into a drink by pulverizing them for a little over a minute. A light bulb came on in my head. I was intrigued because this meant that instead of sitting around and chewing on leaves for 30+ minutes everyday (which I was sure to avoid), I could just drink them in under 2. That evening, I stopped at a Target store on my way home from work and bought a nutribullet. In retrospect, this was the turning point at which my health and wellbeing took a major turn for the better.

The first smoothies I made using my brand new nutribullet tasted horrible, but I “closed my eyes” and drank them because the chalky bitter taste I endured for 2 minutes every morning was a lot better than suffering another wrecked knee.

Ingredients for the Chubanator Smoothie Version 1.0

  • 1 cup of Spinach
  • 2 X frozen Strawberries
  • 4 X 3 inch long celery stalks
  • 1 cup of iced water
  • 2 X ice cubes

The ingredients above will make a smoothie between 12 – 16 oz in volume

After drinking my pilot smoothie concoction for about a month, I wanted to gouge my eyes out. It didn’t taste good to me and there was no way I could sustain this for the long haul. I needed to somehow make it better, so I enrolled at the University of Google to look for answers. This time, I would carefully study what my fellow human beings knew about green smoothies and incorporate those ideas into my own smoothie making process to make my smoothies more nutritious and better tasting. After many months of trial and error I finally came up with a smoothie recipe that delivered more nutrition and tasted much better in general. I also upgraded my blender from a nutribullet to a more powerful and durable blendtec total blender.

Ingredients for the Chubanator Smoothie Version 2.0

  • 2 cups of Spinach or Kale
  • 2 Frozen Strawberries
  • 4 X Peeled Baby Carrots
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado
  • 1 X 5mm thick slice of ginger (about the same diameter as an american quarter)
  • A quarter of an orange
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop of designer whey gourmet chocolate protein powder
  • A drizzle of honey to sweeten
  • 4 – 6 ice cubes

The ingredients above will make a smoothie between 20 – 24 oz in volume

Version 2.0 of the Chubanator smoothie tasted much better and was a lot more nutritious than version 1.0. I still drink it everyday till this very day and haven’t looked back since. After the first 6 months of consuming what I have now come to affectionately call “human rocket fuel” everyday, I noticed a lot of benefits to my physical health and well being. I’ve regained much of my athleticism and seem to look a bit younger than my actual age because my skin looks more radiant and I rarely ever catch the common cold. I’m convinced that the more alive the food you eat is, the more alive you will be as a person. The ingredients of the Chubanator smoothie v2.0 were carefully selected because together, they constitute a full symphony of nutrients that aid general health and well being.

The green smoothie has turned out to be more “human rocket fuel” than “gimmicky green sludge” for me. I urge you to add it to your diet because it is an easy way to get a lot of fruit and vegetable servings into your system in a readily digestible form. It only takes a few minutes to prepare one each day, and it will do your body a world of good. The only thing I regret about discovering the green smoothie is that I didn’t start consuming them earlier on in life. I have a strong feeling that if I had started my green smoothie kick earlier, I would have avoided all the painful injuries and illnesses that I have suffered through. I hope you will learn from my mistakes and use this knowledge to your advantage. Life is already difficult, might as well give yourself the best shot at being healthy enough to meet its challenges head on.

If you have read this far, you are probably the curious intelligent kind that wants to know exactly what benefits the particular ingredients of the Chubanator smoothie Version 2.0 offer to the human body and your general health. For types like you, I’ve written it all out below. Till next time my friends… stay well.

Health Benefits and Nutrition Facts of the Chubanator Smoothie Version 2.0

  1. 2 cups of Kale (Vitamin A, C, K, Fiber)
    • Vitamin A is excellent for maintaining good eyesight.
    • Vitamin C is critical for a strong immune system, ligaments, and tendons.
    • Vitamin K is important for the blood clotting mechanism in the body and for maintaining healthy skin.
    • Fiber is remarkably important for your digestive system. Makes going to the bathroom (for #2) a lot easier.
  2. 2 frozen strawberries (Vitamin C, Fiber)
    • Vitamin C is critical for a strong immune system, ligaments, and tendons.
    • Fiber is remarkably important for your digestive system. Makes going to the bathroom (for #2) a lot easier.
  3. 4 baby carrots (Beta carotene, Fiber)
    • Beta carotene promotes good eyesight and healthy skin.
    • Fiber is remarkably important for your digestive system. Makes going to the bathroom (for #2) a lot easier.
  4. 2 X Tablespoons of Avocado (Omega 9 fatty Acids)
    • Omega 9 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  5. 1 X 5mm thick slice of ginger (about the same diameter as an american quarter)
    • Ginger does wonders for reducing inflammation in the body.
    • Ginger is also very good for strengthening the immune system and fighting off the common cold.
  6. A quarter of an orange (Vitamin C, Fiber)
    • Vitamin C is great for a healthy immune system, ligaments, and tendons.
    • Fiber is remarkably important for your digestive system. Makes going to the bathroom (for #2) a lot easier.
  7. 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk (Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Manganese, Vitamin B-12)
    • Calcium is Important for maintaining strong bones and teeth
    • Vitamin D is also important for strong bones and teeth. Studies show it may also play a role in reducing cancer risk
    • Magnesium is important for strong healthy muscles, ligaments and tendons
    • Vitamin B-12 is important for the regulation of a healthy nervous system and heart health
    • Manganese is important for maintaining connective tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons etc)
  8. 1 scoop of Designer Whey Protein powder (Vitamin D, Calcium, Essential amino acids, Zinc, healthy cholesterol)
    • Vitamin D is important for strong bones and teeth. Studies show it may also play a role in reducing cancer risk
    • Calcium is Important for maintaining strong bones and teeth
    • Essential amino acids are important for building strong muscles, ligaments, skin. Amino acids are also vitally important for many biochemical reactions that sustain the human body.

Without Wax
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D

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God vs Darwin


GodvDarwinJudeo Christian philosophy espouses the idea of an omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing) being who created the world in seven days. This supreme being goes by many names: “The Lord of Hosts”, “The Almighty Father”, “Jehovah”, “Adonai”, or simply, “God”. According to Christianity HE or SHE is immune to the passage of time, knows each and every one of us by name, knows the number of hairs on each of our heads, watches each of us carefully throughout life, and responds to our individual prayers. Further, the glory of God can supposedly be felt through the awe inspiring depth and diversity of the organic and inorganic world. God himself/herself is said to permeate the wonder that is the plant and animal kingdom, the most dazzling gems we’ve discovered, and even the stupendous vastness of the outer reaches of our universe. In some circles, God is also assumed responsible for the direct creation of the crown jewel of our planet… the very first human beings. This notion of a divine spirit being directly responsible for the creation of human beings has remained a timeless source of conflict between the schools of christianity and the natural sciences.

Many conflicting beliefs exist between christianity which is grounded in the faith of the supernatural and science which is based on cold hard empirical proof. One such conflicting belief that continues to fascinate is the idea of our origin. Where did we come from? Did God really fashion Adam from dirt and then proceed to steal a rib from him while he slept to make Eve? How can that be true when the evidence supporting the evolution of species was so completely and meticulously propounded by that sickly english kid from Shrewsbury named Charles Darwin (1809-1882). This conflict of ideas stirs up intense passion from the pure scientists and the purely religious. The christians and spiritual leaders scream blasphemy, while scientists scornfully retort: “show me some effing proof of this supreme being and then maybe I’ll take you seriously”. So on and on the argument rages… the religious think the scientists soulless and the scientists think the religious are deluded fanatics who have fallen out of all touch with reality. The following question needles at me when I hear these verbal conflicts: is the idea of a divine all powerful creator completely irreconcilable with the idea of the evolution of species?

According to Charles, we human beings came to our current form through a slow evolutionary process which occurred over many millennia. This evolutionary process occurred and continues to occur in line with one general law that governs the advancement of all living beings. “Go forth, multiply, vary, and adapt… let the strongest of you live and let the weakest die.” If you can detach your emotions for a bit, you will see that there is a grain of truth in this general law. Let us think about it for a second. It is widely acknowledged that the modern human race began on the plains of the African savannah. Our ancestors were weak dark skinned and sickly creatures who had little to no defense against the large cats or countless other predators that sought to kill and eat them. In spite of these seemingly insurmountable odds our ancestors transformed themselves into the undisputed kings of the African savannah in a few million years (remarkably short on the timescale of evolution) by using the unrivaled plasticity of the human brain to adapt to circumstances and build tools/weapons. The few who were unwilling or unable to adapt for whatever reason, simply died off. After conquering the African savannah, our insatiable curiosity compelled some of us to wander off to Eurasia. There we faced another challenge… our dark skin. In Eurasia our ancestors suddenly experienced winter and the associated lack of sunlight which led to a prodigious drop in their Vitamin D levels. To make matters worse, dark skinned folks have a harder time producing vitamin D because of the high amounts of melanin contained in dark colored skin. This evolutionary pressure favored the lighter skinned people in Eurasia as the melanin levels in their skin were low enough to not significantly interfere with the synthesis of Vitamin D. Slowly, our darker skinned ancestors who made the trip to Eurasia died off leaving only their lighter skinned counterparts. This is another example of evolutionary pressure ruthlessly killing off those of us that fail to adapt to circumstances. All this sounds painfully harsh and brutal but trust me when I say that after 10+ years as a student of science, I now understand that science doesn’t care about my feelings or yours… it is based on truth and a heavy dose of cold detached reason.

Contrary to the cold logic of science, most religions are grounded in strongly held beliefs and faith. There is no hard proof that the earth was created in seven days, or that God exists, or that the first human was directly created by God, or that the first dude created was named Adam, or that the first human being created was a dude for that matter. In spite of this abject lack of scientific proof to back up religious beliefs, there are approximately 2.2 billion Christians on this earth. In addition we have a ton of Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist brothers and sisters amongst many other religious types on our planet today. The fact that so many of us believe in some sort of religion indicates that there is something hardwired within us that needs that belief in order to ascribe meaning to our existence. Why though, do so many of us turn to the supernatural for a belief system rather than believing in truth and beauty which are actually tangible and just as timeless? I personally think it is because the existence of a supreme being is a fundamental truth whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

The only thing that survives the revolutions of time is the truth. My Volkswagen GTI will eventually stop working. I’ll eventually wear out the fretboard on my fender stratocaster. You and I will eventually die off. Great civilizations will rise and fall, entire languages will be forgotten, and erroneous scientific theories will be overthrown by new discoveries. If truth is the only thing that survives, then why is this idea of the supreme being still around after thousands of years… especially since it is absent any real tangible proof? The scientist in me wants to rap myself across the knuckles for allowing my brain to think this way, but does this mean that the existence of God is the truth? For now, we have to assume that it is because the supreme being has remained in human consciousness for eons and no one can actually disprove his existence. I must say that the guy (God) has some meteoric rockstar status. I mean none of us would show up to a Jimi Hendrix concert because we all know he is dead. However, a ton of us show up to church every Sunday to hang out with a God who has never once made a physical appearance.

Since there is a pretty good chance that both the theory of evolution and the existence of God are fundamental truths, there must be a common thread uniting both ideas. That is the only way any of this makes sense. I for one don’t necessarily think the existence of a supreme being and the theory of evolution are mutually exclusive. It is possible for both ideas to harmoniously co-exist in my opinion. If we are to believe that God is truly as supreme as the ancient texts and teachings tell us, then he must surely have an infinitely broader and deeper feel for all aspects of knowledge and the very essence of life than we do. Our relatively weak human intellect struggles to fathom the workings of such a supreme spirit which is why we have spent ages learning from and copying the designs that sprung from this supreme mind. Almost all of our inventions to date are elaborate imitations of objects or concepts observed in nature in one form or the other. Ever notice how an airplane shares an uncanny resemblance with a bird? Or how a submarine resembles a whale? Or how robotic arms look like human arms? Or how plumbing systems mimic the circulatory system in your body? Or how the Audi R8 V10 seems to take design cues from a sting ray? Nature is the ultimate inspiration for all sorts of engineering… it is the ultra efficient reality from which almost all knowledge of our world springs.

Since the supreme spirit and creator of our reality seems to adhere to the most efficient way to do things, it stands to reason that he applied the same design ethos to the creation and perpetuation of our species. We as humans have learned to automate things because it makes our lives easier and more efficient. Airplanes have autopilots, most modern cars have cruise control, and some homes have autonomous vacuum cleaners and laundry machines. As usual, all our perceived brilliance is merely an elaborate mimicry of the elegance of nature because God was the first automator. Think about it… he effectively automated the perpetuation of our species by making sex so pleasurable and by designating the process of pregnancy to the subconscious mind. Our women don’t have to actively will themselves to get pregnant… sexual intercourse at the right time automatically takes care of that. Thinking deeply in this same way, one can see that the theory of evolution doesn’t preclude the existence of an Almighty God. Quite to the contrary, it points to the existence of a supreme being who has mastered time and the very essence of life so completely that he could see the end from the beginning and concluded that the most efficient way to bring humans into being was through a series of evolutionary tests that would force us to develop from our single celled origins into the supreme opportunists we have become today. Our ultra optimized opportunism has made us eminently capable of adapting to a ridiculously wide array of circumstances, allowing us to collectively assume the mantle of undisputed king of the organic world in spite of our physical limitations. Now isn’t that infinitely more efficient, thoughtful, insightful, and thorough than busting out a chisel and hammer every time you want to create a human being?

I guess God vs Darwin ends in a truce… for now anyway.

Without Wax
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.

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Is ignorance really bliss?


ignoranceAccording to the age old saying, “Ignorance is bliss”. This implies that we can hope to stay blissfully happy if we remain ignorant of life’s inevitable pitfalls… or so the saying would want to make us believe. To be honest it sounds correct on the surface. After all, when you don’t know how ruthless and unfair the world can be, you are in effect shielded from the mental torment that such knowledge brings. When you don’t know how hard becoming a surgeon or mastering a musical instrument really is, you are more apt to paint a pleasurable vision of these accomplishments with a naive disregard for the intense hard work and drudgery these disciplines require over extended periods of time. When you don’t know how hard it is to love the same person for 30+ years, you are more likely to fetishize the idea of holy matrimony. On the other side of the coin, knowledge of a potentially negative outcome can make us fearful and skittish. For instance, fighters who have previously been knocked out in a combat sport become less likely to take the calculated risks needed for victory in future battles. People who have been fired from previous jobs refrain from asserting themselves at the next one for fear of repeating the same fate. Athletes returning from a serious injury sustained in their competitive sport of choice often lose the verve that once made them unstoppable. At first glance all these points seem to validate the “ignorance is bliss” cliche… but is this really true? Does the saying – ignorance is bliss – really stand up to intensely thoughtful scrutiny on a deeper level?

The idea of blissful ignorance simply does not hold up in this four dimensional reality we exist in. It doesn’t take much deep thought for the notion equating ignorance to bliss to fall apart like a house of cards on a windy San Francisco day. The truth is that ignorance can be downright disastrous for both the individual and for our species as a whole. So what if you or I don’t know that the amazon river is home to deadly flesh eating fish called piranha? “Blissful” ignorance won’t stop you or I from turning into piranha lunch if we dared to go swimming close to a school of them. So what if we are good and kind people who choose not to acknowledge the force of gravity? The blunt truth is that if either of us stepped off the top of a tall building, gravity will have no qualms pile driving you or I into the ground at a constant rate of acceleration (9.8m/s2 to be precise) regardless of how well liked or nice we are. Ignorance doesn’t protect any of us from the harsh realities of our fleeting existence… on the contrary, ignorance actually seems like a dangerous handicap rather than pure bliss.

Over the years I have come to see ignorance as the root cause of many problems throughout history. Ignorance isn’t something to be embraced as a form of bliss. Rather, it is something we should all actively rebel against. If we consider most of the worst aspects of human nature down to their very essence, we will inevitably find ignorance as one of the causative factors. Some of the most deplorable things that we humans have done to one another and to our beautiful planet spring from this insidious and seemingly inexhaustible well of ignorance. In earlier times, wars were fought and lives were lost over farm land because people didn’t know that year over year crop rotation maintains soil fertility for much longer periods. This knowledge would have obviated the need for neighboring villages to go to war with each other over fertile plots of land, saving many lives as a result. In my home country of Nigeria, tribes in the state of Calabar used to kill twins at birth because my people erroneously thought it was a sign of demonic witchcraft until Mary Slessor (1848–1915) set us straight. Racism only exists because people don’t know that the same 4 nucleotides (Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine) are the building blocks of all human DNA regardless of race. As a matter of fact, the more you realize how similar we are to one another on the fundamental level of our genetics, the more you realize how silly racism is. We only burn fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere because we don’t know how to effectively harness more sustainable sources of energy yet… thank goodness for Elon Musk who looks well on his way to solving that puzzle. Even envy is another twisted form of ignorance because those who are jealous of another’s talents or abilities aren’t aware of how truly special they themselves are and are perhaps blind to the gold mine of talent that lies within them. If only we all resolved to look within and get so involved in cultivating and building ourselves into better people, the world would be a much better place and no one would have time or energy to waste on envy. The problem is that a lot of us haven’t done enough introspection and study to know that we can evolve to higher and higher levels of excellence in all aspects of life because we have become collectively distracted by technology.

It is a glaring paradox that this technologically advanced information age that we live in has collectively dimmed our intellectual faculties. We no longer do any math in our heads because calculators do that for us. We no longer know anything by heart because, well, Google knows everything. We no longer strive to develop social intelligence or learn more about our world because most of us are too busy watching season 5 of “Breaking Bad” for the fifth time, or staring at addictive cat videos on YouTube to make an earnest effort. Let me say that I have absolutely nothing against technology… I actually have immense respect for the tremendous power it has given our species. However, anything can turn detrimental if used in the wrong way or out of all reasonable proportion. The truth is that technology is neither good nor bad, it is only as good as the folks who make use of it. Succumbing to our natural human laziness and completely deferring to technology will help none of us in the end. We simply cannot rely solely on technology to solve all our problems without any effort on our part. Instead, we must all go in the opposite direction of this troubling trend and see technology as an invaluable tool for educating ourselves on the issues affecting our fellow brothers and sisters and the wider world. We must use the “samurai sword” of technology to ruthlessly slice through the thick film of ignorance that constantly threatens us on all levels.

Although actively fighting against ignorance is a critically important first step, the ultimate end goal must be a practical application of the knowledge gathered for the sustenance and advancement of the world. I leave you with the following quote from the incomparable martial arts master and icon, Bruce Lee.

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” ~ Bruce Lee (1940-1973)

Without Wax
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.

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How to get really good at (fill in the blank)


Steve_Jobs_wm
Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

We all intuitively know when we have experienced a display of exceptional skill because it stirs up emotions in us that words cannot quite capture. It is the feeling that causes you to shake your head in disbelief at Stephen Curry’s accuracy from 3-point range on a basketball court. It’s the emotions you feel when a soulful guitar solo leaves you in tears. It is the excitement that forces you to dance when you hear Alicia Keys belt out the chorus to “Empire State of Mind” from her famed vocal chords. Words cannot describe these feelings because exceptional skill predates language in our human culture. Before the invention of language or the existence of insanely skilled musicians, writers, and athletes, our ancestors were insanely skilled hunters and navigators who could deftly weave their way through the rich African jungle and strategically plan the efficient killing of prey. Master’s of their respective domains seem to possess skill that is otherworldly and beyond the average person’s grasp. This apparent unattainability of mastery is further heightened by the fact that there are so few masters in history who really stand out. These masters form a shining line through the annals of time: Galileo, Leo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Michael Faraday, Benjamin Franklin, Martha Graham, Marie Curie, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, Steven Paul Jobs, Floyd Mayweather Jr, and John Mayer amongst others. The otherworldly skill these masters possess seduces us into repeatedly asking certain questions. How does exceptional skill come about? Are their brains just different from that of the average person? Are these people just born geniuses? Can anyone become a genius? Do I have what it takes to be like that or should I just accept my lot in life and stop fooling myself? Well my friends, I invite you to follow me on this literary journey as I attempt to explain where exceptional skill comes from.

Provided you are blessed to live in an environment where the social, political, and economic climates are relatively calm, you can develop exceptional skill. Exceptional skill is not a sacred treasure that only the pre-ordained few are born with, it is available to whomever is prepared to do the following things:

  • Discover your unique primal talent
  • Devote a ridiculous amount of time (~15,000 hours) to honing your craft
  • Be willing to endure a lot of mental and/or physical anguish
  • Engage in lifelong learning and improvement as a person and practitioner of your craft

Discover your unique and primal talent: No two people are exactly alike. Even identical twins – effectively biological clones of one another – have subtle environmentally induced differences between them. I maintain that this uniqueness from person to person marks each individual with the tools to do something uniquely special. Some of us are born with a good sense of rhythm and excellent hand dexterity… these types would probably do well as pianists or guitarists. Some of us are born with a keen mind for strategy and gamesmanship… these types would probably make good army generals or CEOs. Some still are born with amazing reserves of energy and physical stamina… these types would fare well as professional athletes or dancers. Understand: no matter who you are, there is something special about you. At the moment you may be ignoring your special talent because society thinks it is weird and laughs at you whenever you show it. Know that those who laugh or make jest of you do so out of plain ignorance. In actual fact, your “weirdness”/talent should be exactly what you seek out and cultivate at all costs.

Sadly, some of us succumb to the constant pressure from society and bury our natural talents so deep that we eventually forget what they are. The average person doesn’t know where their natural inclinations lie and as a result, we remain prisoners to jobs that pay just enough to keep food on the table while we pay off a mountain of debt. If that doesn’t sound great to you, then you must go in the opposite direction and figure out what you are good at. It is that thing that seems to come naturally without as much effort on your part. A good way to find out what you like to do is to think back to your childhood. During childhood, none of us were socially “sophisticated” enough to know what embarrassment meant so our spirits freely gravitated to the things we loved to do. Maybe you were always running around and had tons of energy (athlete), maybe the sound of music mesmerized you (singer, guitarist), or perhaps you got a thrill from scaring the living hell out of your siblings (movie director). I promise you that if you look deep enough, these early love affairs still exist in you. They never die… they are just significantly dimmed by disuse. It might take you months or years to rediscover your talents and rekindle them, but it will be well worth it. Without a clear knowledge of your primal inclinations, mastery will be infinitely more difficult to attain. It is therefore the first and most critical step on your journey.

Devote a ridiculous amount of time (~15,000 hours) to honing your craft: It is true that your natural talent and inclinations are precious gifts given to you at birth. However, these are merely raw materials that will fail you at some point if you aren’t skilled. The only way to develop true masterful skill is through deliberate practice over a long period of time. As a matter of fact, what seems like second nature to many geniuses didn’t come naturally at all. Michael Jordan was a notoriously hard worker who would practice for hours on end like his life depended on it. Kobe Bryant forced himself to spend the time it took to make 1000 jump shots everyday. Albert Einstein spent 3 – 4 hours everyday contemplating what it would feel like to ride alongside a beam of light. John Mayer spent 6 hours a day playing guitar in his basement for ~10 years as a teenager and young adult. Some of you may point to child prodigies as a reversal of this dynamic, but if you look closer, you will find that a lot of child prodigies don’t accomplish anything that is world class until they have spent an average of 10 years immersed in their field. Yes, Mozart was composing at the age of 9 but he didn’t have his first universally acclaimed work until Concerto #9 at age 21. Yes, Tiger Woods won the master’s golf tournament at 21, but he had been receiving great instruction from his father and practising hard since he was 5 years old. This pattern repeats itself over and over again in the lives of the most respected geniuses. If you are determined and never give up, it is only a matter of time until you become a master provided your practice habits are effective.

Be willing to endure a lot of mental and/or physical anguish: Like anything good in life, mastery doesn’t come easy to any of us. Perhaps it is a mechanism of natural selection to make sure that only the toughest and most determined of us gain the power to influence our human culture. Your path to mastery will involve quite a few unpleasant things. You will most likely encounter some resistance in the form of jealousy, other people doubting of your ability, and endless amounts of painful deliberate practice. Pay no attention to the doubters or the envious… deep down, they wish they had your drive and only seek to impede your progress to preserve their shaky self esteem. I’d rather discuss an essential factor for your journey to mastery with you: deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice is quite different from what most people think practice is. It requires a lot of time and is NOT inherently enjoyable. For example, an amatuer golfer may think of practice as going to the golf course with a goal of hitting 100 golf balls. A golfer in search of mastery would think of practice as going to the course to hit 100 golf balls with a target of landing 93% of them within 10 feet of the cup. The second goal takes a lot more focused deep attention to accomplish and is much more challenging than hitting a golf ball as hard as you can for fun. This subtle difference between the above stated practice habits is often the reason why you can meet two people who have both been playing guitar for 3 years and one is so much better than the other. You will find that if you look more closely, the better player had a more methodical approach to practice, allowing him or her to deeply absorb the very essence of the craft. This applies to every genre… it is not enough to mindlessly practice your craft. You must be deliberate and methodical in your quest for excellence. You must resist the temptation to be nice to yourself and continually push against our naturally lazy human tendencies. You must constantly attempt things within your chosen field that are just outside the realm of your current abilities. That is the true spirit of a master and the only way to keep getting better.

Lifelong learning and improvement as a person and practitioner of your craft: Most masters are fluid in their thinking and ways of being. They rarely stay wedded to a set way of doing things and are constantly experimenting with ways to improve their craft. As an example, when Michael Jordan first burst onto the NBA scene in the 1980s, he was known as a high flying super athletic dunking machine with no 3 point shot. At the end of his career though, he had worked so hard on his shot that he became deadly from 3 point range. This is a clear example of a man that never stopped working on his craft even at a point in his life when he was widely recognized as the best basketball player on the planet. The jazz artist John Coltrane still practised 10 hours a day even after he had become fully established. There are stories of him practising so hard till the reeds on his saxophone turned red with blood from his fingers. Coltrane was constantly searching for that next level to which he could elevate his craft. When Jimi Hendrix first burst onto the scene in the 1960s, he was fired from several bands because of his strange penchant to musically go off on his own leaving the rest of his band members confused and exasperated. They simply couldn’t keep up with his idiosyncratic and intensely personal style of guitar playing. This was a sign of Jimi’s pioneering spirit and inclination for constant experimentation. A strong foreshadowing of his later mastery.

Some people may see mastery as dark, greedy, ambitious and selfish, but I venture to say that those who say that miss the point. You are special and the world needs you so developing your unique talents to the level of “badass” is actually a necessity. According to one of my favorite authors – Robert Greene – it is the height of selfishness to merely consume what other people have created without contributing something of your own to society. We can’t all be as crazy skilled as Leonardo Da Vinci, but you can be a master on your own scale who enriches his or her immediate environment. Nothing is too small to contribute… even if your gift means you excel at making others laugh their socks off, that to me has immense value in its own special way. So my friends… let’s all get after it and let the quest for mastery at whatever scale you choose hold sway.

Without Wax
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.

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The dangerously seductive unavailable person…


From a male heterosexual perspective. The point of view I can see most clearly…

Gone are the days when women stayed at home to take care of the children while the man went off to work everyday to earn money for the family’s upkeep. In those days, women were literally dependent on their men for financial solvency which often times directly predicted the probability of the survival of their offspring. It is deplorable to think it now but back then, women couldn’t drive, vote, or work for a living. Their place was in the home… raising children, cooking, cleaning the fort, and politely entertaining guests that their men brought home… or so they were erroneously told. In return for the services they rendered, women were guaranteed a partner for life who would protect and provide for them well past fertility and into old age. From this mutual trade of “services”, the institution of marriage was born. An institution that championed the fusion of masculine and feminine essences into a whole that yielded the amazing gift of children.

The relatively recent liberation of the modern woman has decreased her need for a member of the opposite sex as a lifelong partner. Women no longer need a man to bring home the proverbial bacon… they can comfortably do it themselves. This has led to a swell in the confidence and independence of the “fairer sex”. This swell in freedom and confidence has equalized the playing field in the sexual market and made it harshly competitive for the average male. No longer will a woman passively settle for the average Joe who works a decent job and lives a regular life. The standards are ever increasing for men who want to play the relationship or marriage game. So the struggle continues… for the next promotion and the associated paltry increase in pay… to buy the house and new car… to get in the gym and shape up… to learn to be more affectionate and thoughtful. The price for not joining the race to impress could range from staying single till you are too old to tie your own shoelaces, to going through a messy divorce. Interestingly though, it is often the guys who seem to try the hardest to please the opposite sex that seem to get the shortest end of the stick in the sexual market place. In stark contrast, the elegant dandy armed with his boyish good looks, coquettish manner, and devil may care attitude seems to attract the most vivacious and beautiful members of the opposite sex in droves in spite of their newfound independence and economic power. Needless to say, this makes no logical sense on the surface. The question is: why does it work this way? Seriously, WTF?

Well, I think the first thing to realize is that there is nothing logical about seduction… that is exactly what makes it so seductive. It is not a differential equation or an NMR (Nucleic Magnetic Resonance) trace so stop trying to use your logical brain to figure it out. Natural laws of human nature don’t give a rat’s ass about what you and I believe or think should happen… they are based on certain fundamental truths. If we think about it for a second, the fact that natural laws work independently of our personal prejudices makes perfect sense. As individuals, we only exist for a brief instant in the annals of time so why should nature adjust any of its prime objectives because we think our ways are fair or more humane? The solution to this frustrating and illogical dynamic in the game of seduction is simple in principle but difficult to practically implement. If you want to be successful in the game of seduction (or in the game of life), you must make it a habit to do the thing that is most emotionally difficult to do. For example, when we first meet a person we are romantically interested in, the first instinct is to want to see them all the time. So we call them a little too often in the first couple of weeks for fear that they will forget us if we do not crowd their consciousness. The problem is that this actually comes across as a sign of neediness. The emotionally difficult thing to do is get on with your life and wait 3 or 4 days before you send them a subtly sweet text message signaling your interest. In truth, it is the subsequent step back after the initial meeting or encounter that is actually more important. Counter intuitively, your absence fills the head of the other with thoughts of you. By stepping back for just the right amount of time you will likely get the other to fetishize and embellish your essence in his or her mind, increasing your perceived value. This is what the most lethal seducers of all time know all too well.

Parallel to the class of conscious master seducers like 007 and Barack Obama lies the other equally potent seductive species – the unavailable man. Albert Einstein was a perfect example of this odd breed of seducer. You know, the kind that is obsessed with his work, carpentry, sculpture, personal development, his hometown soccer team, and remains perpetually lost in his own thought. His obsessions ground him completely and detach him from needing fulfillment from another human source. This is not some kind of fake pretentious detachment that we are referring to here. Rather, it is a real and deep feeling of genuine satisfaction with one’s life that legitimately obviates the need for constant validation from another. Due to this profound level of inner satisfaction, this breed of seducer will naturally do the most emotionally difficult thing to do when getting to know a potential mate. He will be too busy writing his latest poem, pondering the natural laws of nature, or figuring out how to play “purple haze” to call his lover 48 times a day. In turn his lover may start to wonder… “Is he really into me?” Once this happens, the game is pretty much over because for some reason, we humans always want what is seemingly just out of our reach. Most people will not be able to resist this air of unattainability and will seek to be the one that “changes him”.

Teaching people to break hearts is NOT at all the moral of this story. Quite to the contrary, it is to encourage you to find something that you love to do for its own sake. Not for the promise of looking cool, a fat paycheck, or eventually being able to afford a Pagani Zonda. When you have found that thing and devote your essence to it, it will make you less available and more seductive as men and women alike will clamor for your precious time and attention. And even if people don’t flock to you, it doesn’t bother you as much because you’ve still got your lifelong best friend (or friends if you are a polymath) who will never disappoint you or think less of you on a random whim or at the suggestion of another. Understand: the less you seem to need people, the more they will enjoy and cherish the thought of spending time with you. That is as true for your friends as it is for your lovers. This does not mean that you should completely ignore people. As with most things in life, it is the “goldilocks” setting – not too hot, not too cold – that is most effective. In the world of seduction, it is the perfect mixture of loner and ardent lover that is most seductive.

Without Wax
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.

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Why should we eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds? They taste awful.


The glorious humanfruitsandveggies body requires a few essential things to thrive. Sleep/rest, adequate nutrition, and the occasional stressful event. This stressful event may take the form of physical exercise such as running away from a sabre tooth tiger or beating the hell out of a punching bag, as long as it is followed by long luscious periods of rest. With our busy lives, most of us ignore at least one of the above stated categories but the human body in all its amazing glory can actually compensate for the absence of any one of these pillars of good health for a surprisingly long time. There is a limit however to how much abuse the human body will put up with before it starts to tell you of your negligence. The human body is divine and therefore very respectful… It won’t “yell” at you unless it has to. It will begin warning you with small cryptic signals: catching the common cold more than once a year, dizzy spells, rashes, acne outbursts, heartburn, or like in my case, migraine headaches and frequent muscle strains. It is important to note here that your body isn’t the enemy. The pain it is strategically delivering is actually good for you. Your body is merely trying to get your attention in a way that you cannot ignore in the hopes that your spirit will wise the fuck up and change something. Most of us are too detached from the beautiful instrument that houses our souls to heed these warning signals. If the signs continue to go unheeded, the body will eventually lose its temper and ratchet up the intensity of the pain signals it delivers. Very often, this culminates in a catastrophic event which leaves you no choice but to do something.

My ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear was the catastrophic event that precipitated a change in my ways. It forced me to deeply consider the needs of my body and realize I was sorely lacking in the department of good nutrition. Through all my study, I came to realize that the true purpose of the food we humans consume is to build and repair the body in a very concrete way. Let me explain… Your body is always in a constant state of flux. Your cells are constantly dying and being replaced by new ones… such is the natural ebb and flow of life. This cellular turnover requires many raw materials such as simple sugars, minerals, vitamins, fats, proteins, water etc. Your mother likely gave you a nice storehouse of these materials by lovingly breastfeeding you through your infancy. Breast milk is one of the most nutrient dense sources of food in the entire world provided the mother delivering it is well nourished. This divine storehouse of nutrients accrued in early childhood in addition to the general robustness of a younger body keeps you in rude health through your teens and twenties barring any unfortunate accidents. We can think of this storehouse of nutrients as a bank account that you take “energy money” out of each year to play basketball games, swim, think, dance, put up with your in-laws etc. And just like a bank account, if you continue to draw “energy money” out of it without replenishing it with readily absorbable high quality nutrition, you will eventually overdraw and be subject to a torn ligament, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and a whole host of other debilitating and/or life threatening health problems.

I had squandered my storehouse of good nutrition in my teens and twenties and generally scoffed at the idea of replenishing any of it. I ate food all the time, but the food I ate was devoid of the divine life force. It was dead food that came in mostly two colors… brown and white. The more dead food I ate, the less life force I had in me. I kept getting weaker on the inside until a simple self directed deceleration event severed my anterior cruciate ligament. That turning point converted me into a religious consumer of fruit and vegetable smoothies, salads, vitamin supplements, and a whole host of other healthy foods. I have come to attain a great level of appreciation and admiration for the human body. It facilitates many pleasures in life. It allows us to think about and solve problems, make tools, enjoy the intricate dance of sex in the house of the pelvic truth, paint glorious masterpieces, play an awe inspiring guitar or piano solo, write great books, see wonderful things, create engineering marvels etc. All it asks in return is that you feed it properly, exercise it every once in a while, and rest it when it asks you to. Pay attention to your body before it has to yell at you. Learn from my past neglect and heed its warning signs before it stops you dead in your tracks.

Without Wax, 
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.

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What is the purpose of Life?


The question of life’s purpose is one that all serious minded human beings above the age of 30 have probably asked themselves multiple times. Why was I born? What am I supposed to do with my life? Who made the universe and the marvelous structure behind it? Is there a God? If there is a God, does HE or SHE give a damn about me? What happens to my consciousness when I die? These questions are timeless, yet there seems to be no consensus on an answer. Maybe we are all here to get married, have a family, be good workers, and live happily ever after. Perhaps we are here to be little “goody two shoes” who are perfectly angelic and never lie, cheat or hurt anyone (I hope we all know that’s a bunch of bollocks!). Perhaps our purpose is to play our minuscule part on the grand scheme of evolution before we die off and get replaced by better and more competent versions of ourselves (our children). Perhaps there is no purpose to it all and this game of life is just one giant cosmic joke with the creator coldly observing the comedic relief of our relatively insignificant petty squabbles and emotional dramas. Having devoted a lot of thought and research to this topic, allow me to posit my own point of view on what I think an essential purpose of life is…

Recent studies in genetics have shown that each individual is genetically unique with the exception of identical twins. I maintain that this uniqueness at birth marks us for a very specific part to play in the elaborate dance of life. We are born with the raw materials to do something special… to sing (a great ear and vocal chords), to paint (a great eye for details), play a musical instrument (stupendous hand dexterity, motor control, and a great ear), to science the shit out of things (natural tenacity and fantastic reasoning faculties) etc. This is not to say that these qualities are fully developed at birth… I don’t think anyone comes out of their mother’s womb knowing exactly what a C minor pentatonic scale is… people are only born with the raw materials that enable them to absorb it and intuitively fuse it into a tear jerking guitar solo. This natural inclination that exists inside all of us in one form or the other is an expression of the divine force of nature seeking expression through our human form. It is the divine creator himself that wants to write a beautiful poem, paint a wondrous picture, dance, “rip it” on a Fender Stratocaster, shoot like Steph Curry, write a beautiful song, and yes… do the dougie.

Taking the above into account, the next question that becomes immediately apparent is: “Why then do so many of us ignore this primal inclination and end up with spouses we can’t stand, jobs we hate, and end up in a mountain of debt stemming from buying things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like?” Simple answer… there is another powerful force that is diametrically opposed to the one seeking expression from within. This counter force takes many insidious forms… the voices of our well-meaning parents and friends, television ads, social media etc. All these voices constantly work on trying to get us to do the “right thing” which is a synonym for “conforming to the results of other people’s thinking”. This voice can be very powerful. If care is not taken, it can extinguish the inner flame which seeks to grow and express itself through a devotion to endless patience, stubborn rigor, and relentless practice. It is important to point out that your parents aren’t out to get you when they advise you to become a lawyer rather than a rock star. They are actually trying to protect you even if it might be misguided. From a strictly mathematical perspective, your parents have a point… If you complete a law or medicine degree in spite of your apathy for the subject matter, you will probably end up earning in excess of $100,000 a year which will make for a comfortable life. On the contrary, if you choose to be a guitar player, singer, and songwriter, the odds of making that kind of money on a consistent yearly basis are considerably worse. Important to note that in both instances, we are referring to the average case. However, I think we can all agree that the best artists or musicians will make much more money each year than the best surgeons on average. Thus, the solution here is to mindfully and consciously reject being average and strive for greatness. You need to work to make yourself so ultra skilled and unique that people will happily open their wallets and pay you whatever sum of money you choose to charge for your goods and/or services. In short, you must work to make yourself irreplaceable.

Making yourself irreplaceable is imminently possible due to the uniqueness of your genetic code. You and I are inherently unique… no one else in your field will be able to do exactly what you can do because your genetic fingerprint doesn’t exist anywhere else (future or past). Moreover, you’ve had a combination of personal experiences that no one else can match. As an example of this, John Mayer and Jimi Hendrix both wield the electric axe and even though Jimi influenced John as is evident every time John plays, John’s unique personality and soul essence is still readily apparent every time he plays. We have erroneously come to think of equality through many well meaning contemporary movements (feminism, civil rights movement etc) as striving for sameness from individual to individual. I would argue that the true and most virtuous kind of equality is striving to provide equal opportunity for all to express their uniqueness in a way that enriches society. This notion is parallel to what we see in nature where all the different plant and animal species contribute to a glorious whole.

In conclusion, find and listen to your unique voice, and work it till you become a badass. Scoff at the need for attention and praise, they will lead you astray. Follow the masters that came before you and love your subject for its own sake. This my friends is the Dao or Way…

Without Wax,
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.

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Why do we keep repeating the same mistakes?


Most people keep making the same mistakes and getting the results they don’t want in life. The question is: Why does that keep happening to intelligent high functioning people? Well, my fascination with this topic has led me to do a lot of research and here is what I have found…

Everyone has a conscious and a subconscious mind. The conscious mind kicks in when you are learning something new, having an engaging conversation with a stranger, or driving somewhere for the first time for instance. This is the part of the mind that we are acutely aware of, and it is thought to control about 5% of our total functional capacity. The other part of the mind is the subconscious mind which was Sigmund Freud’s ground breaking discovery. He discovered that the subconscious mind was situated just below the level of awareness for each individual, and actually controlled about 95% of each person’s functional capacity. The subconscious mind is also responsible for performing all the essential bodily functions… you know, the things that you do without thinking too much about – Breathing, your heart pumping blood through your body, processing the images that are detected by your eyes into meaningful information etc. Interestingly, the process of really mastering a skill such as playing a musical instrument, learning a new language, or touch typing is actually a process of delegating specific movements and/or behaviors to the subconscious mind. This is why people who touch type can type really fast while talking to other people. It is also why really good guitar players can play effortlessly while singing a tune without looking at the fretboard. The caveat is that what seems effortless to them isn’t really effortless at all. The “secret” (which really isn’t a secret at all), it that these guys and girls who have become experts have spent a monumental amount of time delegating these skills to the subconscious mind.

You might be wondering what the mechanism for influencing your subconscious mind is. Well the subconscious mind can be looked at as a sort of animal mind. It doesn’t respond well to logic at all which is why many smart logical folks can’t seem to get through to it. On the contrary, it is very good at understanding repetitive behaviors, images, and emotion. The subconscious mind will respond well to images that you see in your conscious mind, that are well mixed with emotion, and that are repeated ad nauseam. It will also become very good at mastering skills which you do very frequently. This is why all our teachers, parents and mentors really emphasize the importance of practice when trying to get better at a particular skill.

So if you want to get better at a particular skill or area of your life, spend a ton of time practicing it if it is a skill, and frequently visualize what it would look like when you have mastered it.

Without Wax,
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.

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