The Bar-On Brief: The saying to keep in mind with final exams around the corner

A tribute to John Lennon and The Beatles


Illustration by Kira Garlick

The Bar-On Brief: A weekly column

The mind truly is our most amazing asset. It tells us right from wrong, guides us through our predicaments and does not take any breaks. It is active when we read, when we write and even when we sleep. If only it worked that well when we take final exams.

During the year we finish exams. But during finals week, the exams finish us.

It is times like these where I remember the lessons of one particular song: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.

Thirty-six years ago, the world lost one of its greatest and most influential singers. John Lennon was shot on Dec. 9, 1980 outside his apartment in Manhattan.

Although Lennon cannot perform this song for us today, the music and its message will live forever.

Paul McCartney was the primarily composer of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” while Lennon played the piano and was one of the backing vocalists.

McCartney said that while recording the song, Lennon had been in a particularly angry mood, and had played the introduction ferociously fast on the piano. The band chose to keep the angered introduction in their final product.

Based on interviews with McCartney, the song originated from a saying McCartney had heard from his Jamaican friend Jimmy Scott in a nightclub.

The line, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on, brah” is not to be confused with “Hakuna Matata,” which roughly translates to “no worries.” The two may appear to present similar ideas, but I urge you to regard the Jamaican saying over the Swahili one in the context of final exams.

We all know “no worries” is not the case for the majority of students studying for final exams. Worrying about finals is natural and can be healthy if moderated. In fact, having no worries and not caring to study for these tests can signal a problem.

The Beatles’ lyrics ask us to take a step back and not take these tests out of proportions. Acing them does not guarantee instant success, and scoring low does not destine someone to eternal failure. These tests, simply put, do not define you.

No matter how hard you study, how well or poorly you perform and what semester grades you end up with, just remember:

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on.

And with that, I rest my case.

The Bar-On Brief is a weekly column that runs Thursdays. 

Follow Shauli Bar-On on Twitter @shauli_baron