Posted in Christian, Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Drowned by Expectations

When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on. LL Cool J

Life is known for its’ curve balls, treacherous routes and sudden rides. When we start our journey, we were given a blank slate. Over the years, with the lessons that we have learnt, instances that we have witnessed and experiences that we have gone through, we start filling in the spaces. Somewhere along the way, when we use the colour of expectations too much, we discover the fallacy too late. For every adversity has its’ own way in and way out, but the path clears when we remove our blinders, lower our expectations and use our common sense to put our faith, trust and intelligence to good use. Although the “drowning man” had blind faith, if we are unable to discern that “His Grace and His Faith” can also show us the path at the right time when we look for it, then we need to cement our Faith with insight and common sense. Else this will cost us our blessings from His Grace, His Love and His Mercy.

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.” To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.” To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”
So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!” To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?” (Various versions of this parable can be read online and has been quoted in different works like Beck, Joko; Smith, Steve (1989). Everyday Zen: Love and Work.)

“However desperate the situation and circumstances, don’t despair. When there is everything to fear, be unafraid. When surrounded by dangers, fear none of them. When without resources, depend on resourcefulness.” Sun Tzu

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Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes

Where Did The Time Go

One of the most sought after requirement for doing any task, buying any gadget or engaging in any short term or long term event is either “quick or fast or rapid or time-saving.” The modern era relies on saving or using time to do as much as possible, to the extent of forgetting that time like all other gifts of nature can’t be saved but only prioritized.

“The supposed great misery of our century is the lack of time.” John Fowles

For time is getting less day by day. We don’t have enough time to read books or newspapers, to write long letters that people once wrote to each other. We struggle to make time to love, communicate with our family and friends, simply talk to our children or even to admire the sunsets and sunrises or just mindlessly walk through the fields and woods. Where did all the time go? Where did this growing trouble of “less time” come from? We do everything in our power to save time, yet it is never enough.

“Quit saying you don’t have time. You have time for what you make time for in life.” Bryant H. McGill

To find time, is not easy but possible. If we take it upon ourselves to enlist our schedule for a week or even a day, we can figure out where the time went. After that, it is up to us to cut off activities that take up our precious hours and leave us with more headaches than ever. The inner query of “do I really need to do this” helps a lot. For instance, checking our email, Facebook or Instagram every hour, news by every hour (unless it is a professional requirement), numerous hours of television doesn’t really help us grow.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” Zig Ziglar

We need to find time to manifest ourselves, the nature around us, our abilities, plans and dreams. Tracking down what is important is needed because once gone, time never returns but only moves forward.

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

View at the Harbor

As a part of the holiday break, as I live pretty close to the sea; we, the entire family, had decided to spend the morning day at the docks and the beach. That was when I had noticed the hustle and bustle going around. Boats were coming and going, some unloading their catch whereas others were simply travelling for the fun with few capturing few seconds of the delights of the water and nature. Amidst all this, few children were playing on the docks with some passerby slipping in their greetings for the regular boats. On the other hand, some boats came quietly and left, with no greeting or exuberant shouts of joy for fellow boats. The resemblance between the activity at the harbour and our lives are pretty striking.

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn

In life we too have our own set of voyages. Yet on these journeys, we come across a number of ships. Some ships are close ones, while some are strangers. There are those who indirectly go with you in life, not really influencing but being present for some reason. There are those who come close to you and change the course of events in history. There are comings and goings. Some will leave a mark in an instant; others even after having been present for years nearby, will not touch the strings of your heart. It is impossible to predict who will stay with you; sometimes close ones let go of your hand on the edge of the abyss and suddenly strangers will hold your outstretched hands and grasp you tight. We can go on the same road, but look in different directions. We can go on different roads but suddenly we stop at an intersection. And no one knows what will happen in a minute, month, year.

“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” Rainer Maria Rilke. 

By entering into someone else’s life or even barely touching it, we leave in it what will become another beacon on the darkest night for him. Be kind, gracious and sincere. This is neither a weakness nor a vice. This is a force that has no price or boastful pride. Say important words to the people who are dear to you in time, because they are of the greatest value especially when we don’t have a guideline or guarantee of how long they can wait for us, or when will they be called. Everything that is so important to the heart has their own time or expiration date. Every word and dded will last only for so long, to the time allotted or it. We are all strangers in this life, closely or partially intertwined with each other. Each touch to your soul, like yours to someone else’s, leaves a mark in the book of destinies and changes the course of events. Be careful, touch carefully.

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Stories Around the World

Keeping Our Dream Alive

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.” Albert Einstein

From the very early days of school, in the course of growing up and gleaning knowledge we all dream of doing something or being that someone. In the course of time, some of us follow up on them while others shelve them waiting for the right time or completely foregoing them. During the period of achieving the dream, we come across various faces of people, some who burst our bubble, a couple of people who try explaining the practical aspects so as to make sure we know the reality and “hard facts” while others just watch to criticize and the very few who observe and offer unasked help or when requested.

“Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big.”  Unknown

What happens when someone tells us that our dreams will never happen? Despite all the facts of reality, when our dreams come from an inner belief, no realism will put out the fire. To question our dream, the ideal response is to either ignore but what really happens is that we break down our dream to smaller sizes or forego it completely. But when we silently work and prove ourselves right would be like the cat that got the cream. Just as the story “Keep your dream” says, strive to prove that your dream will happen, not simply to set others right but also to keep your inner light, desire and wish burning bright.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  C.S. Lewis

 

Keep Your Dream

I have a friend named Monty Roberts who owns a horse ranch in San Ysidro. He has let me use his house to put on fund-raising events to raise money for youth at risk programs. The last time I was there he introduced me by saying, “I want to tell you why I let Jack use my horse. It all goes back to a story about a young man who was the son of an itinerant horse trainer who would go from stable to stable, race track to race track, farm to farm and ranch to ranch, training horses. As a result, the boy’s high school career was continually interrupted. When he was a senior, he was asked to write a paper about what he wanted to be and do when he grew up. That night he wrote a seven-page paper describing his goal of someday owning a horse ranch. He wrote about his dream in great detail and he even drew a diagram of a 200-acre ranch, showing the location of all the buildings, the stables and the track. Then he drew a detailed floor plan for a 4,000-square-foot house that would sit on a 200-acre dream ranch. He put a great deal of his heart into the project and the next day he handed it in to his teacher. Two days later he received his paper back. On the front page was a large red F with a note that read, `See me after class.’The boy with the dream went to see the teacher after class and asked, `Why did I receive an F?’ The teacher said, `This is an unrealistic dream for a young boy like you. You have no money. You come from an itinerant family. You have no resources. Owning a horse ranch requires a lot of money. You have to buy the land. You have to pay for the original breeding stock and later you’ll have to pay large stud fees. There’s no way you could ever do it.’ Then the teacher added, `If you will rewrite this paper with a more realistic goal, I will reconsider your grade.’The boy went home and thought about it long and hard. He asked his father what he should do. His father said, `Look, son, you have to make up your own mind on this. However, I think it is a very important decision for you.’ Finally, after sitting with it for a week, the boy turned in the same paper, making no changes at all. He stated, ‘You can keep the F and I’ll keep my dream.’”

Monty then turned to the assembled group and said, “I tell you this story because you are sitting in my 4,000-square-foot house in the middle of my 200-acre horse ranch. I still have that school paper framed over the fireplace.” He added, “The best part of the story is that two summers ago that same schoolteacher brought 30 kids to camp out on my ranch for a week. When the teacher was leaving, the teacher said, ‘Look, Monty, I can tell you this now. When I was your teacher, I was something of a dream stealer. During those years I stole a lot of kids’ dreams. Fortunately you had enough gumption not to give up on yours.’
“Don’t let anyone steal your dreams. Follow your heart, no matter what.” – Jack Canfield

If your mom asks you to do the dishes, do not pull out your pirate attitude. But if someone tells you you’re not good enough, says your dreams are too lofty, or claims there is no room in showbiz for a dancing violinist – well then, by all means, pull out your eye patch, my friend, and take to the high seas. Lindsey Stirling

Keeping our dreams alive despite all odds is never easy. Yet the fruit of the toil is worth the sweat and the efforts as well as the dust and the grime. For all of us who have shelved our dreams, restore them and start off working on them so that we can look back and cherish the happiness of our hearts’ desires. To quote Emma Heatherington, “Life is, most of all, about love – follow your heart, live out your dreams, smile, be happy, see the good in everyone you meet and rise above those who try to make you feel low. Fill your heart and fill your soul – love, no matter what, is always the answer.” 

Posted in Family and Society, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Our Civic Duty

Children need to get a high-quality education, avoid violence and the criminal-justice system, and gain jobs. But they deserve more. We want them to learn not only reading and math but fairness, caring, self-respect, family commitment, and civic duty. Colin Powell

During my school days, we used to have certain phrases painted on the walls. Among them, one was “cleanliness is next to godliness”. From the very early days of our foray into the world of learning, my school had taken the duty of educating us for society and the neighbourhood very seriously. While in smaller classes it was morning prayer followed by song and then the checking of our general appearance and neatness by our teachers as we sat down for our classes, it was more than that as we entered the higher grades. The early morning assembly which was marked by the prayer song, concise news headlines, thought for the day and school happenings in brief ended with a brief inspection by the prefects or senior class leaders as we headed to our classrooms.

“By its very definition, civic responsibility means taking a healthy role in the life of one’s community. That means that classroom lessons should be complemented by work outside the classroom. Service-learning does just that, tying community service to academic learning.” John Glenn

The message underlying all this entire proceedings was to be involved in our surroundings as well as that neatness and cleanliness should arise within us and spread over to our environment as well. One of the defaults of the present day is that we neglect to lay stress on the civic duty we all have being a part of community, society and country. By turning a blind eye to our civic responsibilities, the effect will impact not just the present but the future societies too.

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy

Contrary to common thinking, civic duty doesn’t need much effort if everything does their own bit. It can start from the grass-root levels of family, neighbourhood and schools. As history has proven time and again, the essence of strong civilizations and countries lies in their commitment of its’ people as well as their civic sense. When the fellow-feeling strengthened by kindness and mutual respect with sense of common duties and interests is strong, then the social life would be both healthy, comfortable and invigorating.

“Democracy is not simply a license to indulge individual whims and proclivities. It is also holding oneself accountable to some reasonable degree for the conditions of peace and chaos that impact the lives of those who inhabit one’s beloved extended community.” Aberjhani

This is one of the posts I had read through my social network pages, (translated to English) which prompted me to think that unless we start to educate our children about their civic duty and environment, we would pay a heavy price either now or later.

As I taught my son not to litter

When my son was about seven years old, and we all went to a small picnic place somewhere outside the city, stopped at a gas station and bought ice cream. As we were going in the car, we were enjoying the journey with my son having the ice cream. Then my son opens the window and throws the wrap. As the speed of the car was low, I was able to very quickly navigate and park the car on the side of the road. Silently I got out of the car, opened the trunk and freed one of the packages from the products. I took my son out of the car and asked to him collect all the garbage from the curb. My son’s pride was affected and my wife also tried to reason with me. Finally she went to the car and explained to her son that until he brought me a full package of garbage, we would not go any further, and accordingly all the fun we were supposed to have will not be there.

My son first with tears, and then with some kind of excitement in his eyes went to collect garbage. I took the second package and went with him. In less than half an hour, we cleared a small stretch of road of the traces of our people’s livelihoods and returned to the car. Then I explained to my son why he was sent to collect the garbage, because Russia is his homeland, and he must love his homeland. I spoke a lot, tedious (as my wife thinks) with examples, so that he understood why he was made to do so. In the end my son asked: Why did you go to collect for me?
“The fact that you threw the wrap out the window is, first of all, my mistake. I missed something in your upbringing, and therefore should have been punished along with you.”
Soon my son will be 13 years old, he has two little sisters, and yesterday I enjoyed watching how he tells them not to litter.

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

Raise the Curtain

“Circling easily and awkwardly,
Snowflake sat down on the glass.
It was snowing thick and white during the night.
From the snow in a light room
A little newly-fallen snow flying down,
And the winter sun rises.
As every day is fuller and better,
Fuller and better is the New Year … “

A.Tvardovsky

And 2019 has arrived in its’ own time. One of the greatest gifts that time has given us is its’ ability to throw some hope as it moves forward. Every new year is rich with hopes, desires, dreams and goals. While the days or months leading to it may have been of realizations, trepidation and incompleteness. Although man knows that not all disease can be overcome, despairs wiped or lack of money solved without divine Grace, miracle or help. This understanding is what lies behind the expectations of hope for tomorrow.

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, “It will be happier.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

As we wait and hope for the miracle to happen, the feeling of despondency fills us at times. Yet once we light the flame inside the us, we discover that there were miracles all around us that were happening which we had failed to comprehend. For miracles and hope comes from the Grace above, it happens through our thoughts, words and actions by our hands. The sooner this “knowing” comes to us, the more beautiful life becomes.

“It doesn’t matter where you came from. All that matters is where you are going.” Brian Tracy

Venturing into this new year, sharing the traditions across the globe; from the Russian custom of drinking the “wished” champagne to stew of black-eyed peas (Southern States of US), eating twelve times (Estonia), releasing wishing spheres onto the river (Singapore), dropping dollop of cream on the floor (Switzerland) or creating our own traditions in the family; the real miracle starts from above and grows in us garnering the hope for the dreams and desires of tomorrow.

“You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.”
Rumi

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes, Reflections

Transition: From Old to New

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on.” Hal Borland

Approaching the last day of this year, flashbacks are imminent and although the proportions may vary by marked degrees, both happiness, contentment laced with sorrows and regrets cloud the mind. As the New Year celebrations swing into full force, there is an underlying feeling of “expectations of something new” in the mind. Yet when the first day of the next year turns out to be something of the normal or later as the month returns to the normal tune; one has the tendency to be swamped by the “absence of something” which is of course our expectations. Despite having the fun and partying to ring in the year, eventually when things return back to the usual; one often wonders what all the partying and revelry drew in. On one hand, we we do celebrate the new, yet on the other hand; the newness wears off, too quickly at times.

“Develop An Attitude Of Gratitude This Year, And Give Thanks For Everything That Happens To You, Knowing That Every Step Forward Is A Step Toward Achieving Something Bigger And Better Than Your Current Situation.” Brian Tracy

The beauty of the new year lies in welcoming the coming days with grace, gratitude, love, thoughtfulness and kindness. Celebrations have always been a part of our days since the formation of societies and building of civilizations. Yet it is when we lose sight of the ground that we fall too hard into the monotonous tone of the usual. Even though we partake in the fun of the New Year, recalling to mind the Grace and Blessings of the year gone, helps us to start the fresh year with new perspectives, hope and dreams.

– What happens in the world? – And just winter.
– Just winter, you think? – I guess.
After all, I myself, as I am able,
lay traces in your early sleeping homes.
– What is behind all this? – And it will be January.
– It will be January, do you think? – Yes, I think.
I’ve been reading this white book for a long time,
this old snowman with pictures of a blizzard.
– What is all this over? – It will be April.
– It will be April, are you sure? – Yes, I am sure.
I have already heard, and this rumor is checked by me,
as if in a grove the flute was ringing today.
– What follows from this? – It is necessary to live,
sew sundresses and light dresses from calico.
– Do you think all this will be worn?
– I believe that all this should be sewn.
It should be sewn, because, no matter how blizzard or circling,
its bondage and opal are short-lived.
So allow me, in honor of the New Year’s ball,
to offer your hand to the dance, madam, to you!
The silver month, the ball with the candle inside
and the carnival masks – in a circle, in a circle.
The waltz begins. Give, madam, a hand,
and – one-two-three, one-two-three,
one-two-three, one-two-three! ..

Yuri Levitansky