Sunday, January 15, 2012

To read or not to read?: How Stupidity Saved My Life by Okechukwu Ofili

Welcome to the second blog of the year! I thought what better way to make the year count than by starting with something as inspiring as a book?

I was given a copy of Ofili's book, 'How stupidity saved my life' by my boyfriend who recently became a big fan of his and I have decided to review it for everyone's benefit.

The cover of the book is extremely well done and the picture of Ofili leaning casually on the title is suggestive of the wit and humour inside the book. He summarises the book in one line: 'Life Lessons from an Overanalytical Engineer', and that left me wondering...what could this book be about? The Ofili on the cover looks too young (at least by our traditional culture) to have gathered enough deep proverbs to fill a book, too serious to write nonsense and yet somehow mischievous enough to keep you entertained.... Coupled with the one rave review I received, I decided to read.

In an attempt to keep this short and sweet I won't go into all the details but this is without a doubt a fantastic book! So simple and yet so relevant! You know what's great? He didn't lie when he said it was a book of 'life lessons from an overanalytical engineer'! Ofili's collection of random stories from life in the US, trying to be successful and make it big despite the rigours of the single, working life make for some great lessons.

With chapter titles like 'My stocks are on ecstasy', 'I almost got arrested' and 'The racist cardboard box' I actually went through the book alternately laughing out loud and exclaiming "hmmmm....deep!".

My personal favourite is 'The bird that broke the glass ceiling', a chapter that touches lightly on impatience then lands firmly on human kindness. See, Ofili was just about to move out of an old apartment into his new home and was basically done packing. He lay down on his bed staring out of the skylight overhead, one endearing feature of this old apartment. A bird (let's call him Chukwudi) decided to land on the skylight and just when all he wanted was peace and quiet, this Chukwudi bird proceeded to coo loudly and continuously. (Can anyone relate? Maybe it's not a bird, maybe its that one friend that always seems to come over just when you want to sleep and won't stop talking.... maybe it's your mother (sorry mums!) Anyway Ofili got a bright idea, as we humans so often do, and decided to throw his shoe at the skylight to scare off the bird (his first few attempts had failed). So he took the shoe and threw it.

Now either the skylight was old and weak, or Ofili doesn't know his own strength but one way or another the skylight shattered and broke! Costing him $3000 on his final move out day!!!! (I died inside on his behalf...if you know landlords, this is what many wait for. There goes your deposit and extra charges!). Let's just say that Chukwudi didn't break the ceiling. Impatience did. But mysteriously, the $3000 charge was never billed to Ofili. You see, many of us don't have great relationships with our landlords/ladies, but somehow, Ofili had managed a very pleasant/courteous relationship throughout his 2 year stay and is convinced by how much the management went out of their way to help him that day, that they covered the charges themselves! I don't know about you but I found this story both shocking and tender.  $3000 is a lot of money for anyone to cover!

Truth is, you never know when acts of kindness and a decision to be humane in an increasingly inhumane world can 'save your life' in future. I don't believe stupidity saved Ofili's life, though from some of the incredible and often hilarious stories I can understand the book title! But he possesses the gift of self-reflection, something too many of us live without and as such rarely grow in depth of character. His book left me feeling fantastic! Not in the feel-good-and-tell-yourself-you're-amazing sense, but rather that perhaps the seemingly ordinary aspects of my life could hold deep lessons worth learning and even sharing. I finished the book feeling like I could write about my life and people would be inspired. The same is true for you and anyone.

So, to read or not to read? That is the question..... I would say definitely read. You can get it on!

I bet that when I meet Ofili in person, I will think of that bird, Chukwudi, and smile....

1 comment:

  1. lol at I can write about my life and people would be inspired. I wonder that because it seems everyone is an author that said I do like funny reads and I'll check it out in between pathology and neuro. I wonder if its on Kindle :)