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I’ve loved hip hop for a long time, and Lauryn Hill has been one of my favourite artists for years. When I came upon this video it resonated so much with me, and I felt that her words are so relevant right now, almost 16 years after she said them. To me, their ability to stand the test of changing times is a real testament to the truth within them.

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I was so shocked to find out she was only 25 years old when she dropped this awesome speech filled with so much wisdom. I attribute it to her life experiences and unwavering dedication to a higher power. Speaking to a room full of college students she shyly mentions off the top that she isn’t the best public speaker. Again, I was surprised because I found Lauryn to be poised and authentic in her delivery.

” Whenever you stand for something, for goodness, for truth, you will always get resistance”

She was referencing the music industry being a microcosm of the world. Perhaps this is true because as the saying goes, sometimes the truth is ugly. Too often we ‘shoot the messenger’ and do not pay attention to what the message actually is. That’s why Lauryn goes on to say she now prays to understand others, instead of being understood. She prays to learn how to love instead of being loved. Lauryn exudes confidence in the video. It’s unmistakable. She attributes it to her upbringing and again her connection and faith in that higher power, which she refers to as God.

“Until you conquer the enemy in yourself, you can’t deal with anyone” 

And by conquer, I interpreted Lauryn as saying befriend. Loving that perceived ‘enemy’ makes us more whole and integrated with ourselves. She then refers to the notion of pleasure without pain. Remembering that all events have an opposite and that sometimes we have to be humiliated or feel sad in order to experience something more. She takes that concept one step further by saying:

“…Life is peaks and valleys. Some people explain that as good times and bad times, but I actually think that it’s learning or- learning- mastership, learning- mastership or study-masterhip, study-mastership”

In truth, there really isn’t good or bad, just events that happen. It’s our perception that makes them so. Lauryn is alluding to the profound realizations that can come when one pays attention to the events that happen in life and then interpret them to get to that next level. She uses the great visual analogy of a hill or mountain as the journey of life and our experiences. Getting to the top of one, people always just want to stay there and hold on for dear life to do so, but you have to go back down. Then, when you get to the foot of another hill or mountain you learn its paths, its trails, its terrain and eventually get to the top of it. So, it’s the learning of the way then getting to the top which leads to the mastership of it. The cycle continues.

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