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

Seeing through “Piper’s” Eyes

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” Aldous Huxley

As a part of restricting “media-time” for my toddler, an allotted period of one hour is given for viewing any “smart screen” device. Being too small to understand complex cartoons, the tastes range from the all-time favourite of “Mickey Mouse”, to “Tom and Jerry” among the few that he likes. Yet once in a while, animation movies feature in the list, especially over the weekend. Last week it was “Piper”, the Oscar Animation Movie Winner (2018) which though lasted for around three minutes carries a wealth of meaning.

“Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.” Jon Bon Jovi

This short animation film revolves around the dog who when accompanying his master on the morning fishing trip, chases away a heron who tries to repeatedly snatch the worms stored as bait in the can. After the successful attempt of chasing it away, the dog watches as it flies back to its’ nest of three young kids where its’ small young ones refuse to feed on the “hard” fish and are crying for “soft” food. With understanding and compassion on its’ face, the little dog offers an entire ball of worms to the stork. A little while later, the dog is startled when the fish is being dropped on the deck by the heron. Realizing that the numerous fish caught in the heron’s beak is for them, in return for the kindness shown earlier, both the dog and the master are elated with the morning’s outcome.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” W.B. Yeats

Highlighting the concept of “humaneness”, this movie brings to light how the “real life” may actually differ for one person, when another views them as a “nuisance”. Each one of us have their own set of struggles everyday. Some will receive help, others will not. Few will use the help the right way, while the rest may waste it away. With varied sets of worries wearing one down, no one can be viewed as “bad” unless given a chance to “reform” and set things right.

Humanity does matter, for there in lies the core of man’s social co-existence and inner peace. When one opens the doors of humanity, one realizes that the “shades of gray” do colour the world and set a different picture from what was initially perceived. Each one of us need to give others’ a second chance and deal with others’ with humanness; for one day when we are in despair or in a downfall, we may need it too. As we learn to practice the art of humaneness with patience, fortitude,  love, kindness and hope; the chain of events started off will make a difference for the better in the lives of those around us too. 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” William Blake

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

The “Atmosphere” Around Us

Once a wise man was asked: “How can you recognize a good man?”
The sage replied: “This is not what he says or what he seems to be, but the atmosphere that is created in his presence. That is what evidence is. For no one is able to create an atmosphere that does not belong to his spirit.”

In the daily, once-in-a-while or chance encounters in our life, there are numerous people that we meet. Like the colleague from another department whom we meet when at lunch once in a while or the acquaintance at the gym or at the coffee shop line up whose times match ours and so on. The list is endless. Yet some people stay on in our minds. While these people may have done something remarkable, friendly or not; their presence is noted by us and at times we look forward to those encounters. What makes those “chance encounters” significant ? May be its’ because we like to meet them or they remind us of ourselves or simply put, it may be because of the aura or atmosphere around them.

“People are sent into our lives to teach us things that we need to learn about ourselves.” Mandy Hale

Each person has a presence about them, reflecting their state of mind. When one is happy, we spread the happiness. When one is constantly plagued by troubled thoughts and insecurities, the “feel” around us would be one of “worries”. Likewise this “feel around us ” is what others perceive. We reflect ourselves around.

“It is when you lose sight of yourself, that you lose your way. To keep your truth in sight you must keep yourself in sight and the world to you should be a mirror to reflect to you your image; the world should be a mirror that you reflect upon.” C. JoyBell C.

Whether is it really important to concern ourselves with ” the atmosphere” we create, is a matter of perspective. In today’s society, life has innumerable opportunities and chances. Yet by constantly blocking them with the “negative vibes” around us would cause more regrets and lost “chances” down the lane. When a person has a good feel around them, spreading the happiness; we internally learn to deal and overcome the sorrows that we hold. Life is not always a cup of tea. Even for the “most rich and bountiful” it holds true in some aspect or the other. Just as no one is perfect, a person with a really perfect life is an abstract thought or reality. Each one has their own share of difficulties; but whether we chose to carry them like a “heavy bucket” along with us or learn to use them to “water other opportunities” in our lives; is in our hands. The choice is always one’s own.

“Unless you learn to face your own shadows, you will continue to see them in others, because the world outside you is only a reflection of the world inside you.” Unknown

More than words or emotions, it’s the vibes around us that stay on. We need “happiness” to live life with serenity. The “vibes” we create, tempered with kind thoughts, honest words and sincere actions, goes a long way in giving the “good feel” within us. The latter is what goes around and helps us in the quest of finding as well as living with happiness.

“The journey into self-love and self-acceptance must begin with self-examination… until you take the journey of self-reflection, it is almost impossible to grow or learn in life.” Iyanla Vanzant

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

Of Skies, Clouds and Serenity

“It is the individual who knows how little they know about themselves who stands the most reasonable chance of finding out something about themselves before they die.” S. I. Hayakawa

The perils of being an adult with a large family, primarily involves lack of alone time for oneself. Either a homemaker or an employer or employee, the hours and days are swallowed up by work, commute, schedules or basic activities for the daily sustenance. As the weekend approaches, eagerness slowly occupies the mind for the possibility of some self time. On Sunday mornings, post church and Sunday luncheon, there’s nothing more blissful than packing up the household, with kids, pets and essentials for a quick trip to the fields, park or even the far reaches of the gardens and lying under the shade of the trees with the noon sun throwing it’s rays. For parents, the lazing around brings around some much needed quiet and downtime with nature and her elements calming the chaos within. For children it’s freedom to explore what nature has hidden.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Henry David Thoreau

Finding oneself and refreshing the spirits may be difficult but not impossible as one long as one makes time and takes advantage of the options at hand. Nature has the best cure and healing approach for the chaos that man often lands into. While a trip to the distant lands for a long break may be somewhere on the bucket list and not feasible for the present, taking time off within the presence of nature of today may be a viable option. The days of summer, vast fields and green lawns often brings to mind the beauty of daffodils. While carpets of yellow daffodils may be absent in the tropics, the greenness of nature calms the soul and brings rest to weary minds and souls. After all, nature is God’s way of telling us to rest and let Him shoulder the burdens of the day.

“When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side, we fancied that the lake had floated the seed ashore and that the little colony had so sprung up – But as we went along there were more and yet more and at last under the boughs of the trees, we saw that there was a long belt of them along the shore, about the breadth of a country turnpike road. I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here and there a little knot and a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity and unity and life of that one busy highway – We rested again and again. The Bays were stormy and we heard the waves at different distances and in the middle of the water like the Sea.”
—Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere Journal Thursday, 15 April
(Wordsworth ed. Woof (2002) p. 85)

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

Of the White Handkerchief

” We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Many of us, during our school or college days, may have those “friends” who were a part of needless teasing and mocking group who had often made days miserable, troublesome and quite depressing, in those times. Fast forward years later, when emails and contact with them were kept to a bare minimum or ignored to prevent emotional setbacks, thinking of those days. Suddenly out of the blue, a phone call or an appointment with the very same people who were directly or indirectly involved then. Will it be within each one of us to forgive them or not ? The old adage, “let bygones be bygone” may sound simple; but when faced with reality, it will never be easy.

“13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

As life and time teaches us again and again; there would be nothing good in fostering the hatred, regrets or dark memories. While those may have happened, it’s how we move on ahead that matters.

” 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” ( Ephesians 4:31-32)

On abetting the bad memories, we often lose out on enjoying and gaining our own happiness in life. When one part of us says, “forgive and move on” and the other holds us back with “the memories”; learn to chose the right one.

” 3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” ( Luke 17:3-4)

All of us have been bad in someone’s books; which we may or mayn’t know about. When given a chance or opportunity to “do good”, do so without letting the memories of “what has happened with them” keep us from doing the right thing. We all need forgiveness from somebody at some point of our life, be it at the resent, in the past or the future. As life and the scriptures teach us, unless we learn to hold the olive branch; no one will lend us one or share the one in our hand. Above all what goes around, comes back to us; so despite all the setbacks and disappointments or dark memories of people, be kind, forgive and do good; if not for their happiness but for our happiness as well as one’s own peace of mind.

“25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25)

White Handkerchief

Freed from imprisonment, he returned home by train. The railway ran through their native places, and approaching its station, it would certainly pass by its native home. But the closer the house came, the more restless it became in his heart. It was hard for him to realize; how much grief he brought to his parents.
Despite the fact that the separation lasted for many years, he loved his parents and dreamed of meeting with them. The fact that he often neglected the love of his parents was even more his than the crime he committed.
He was not at all sure whether they would accept him at home or not. Therefore, he wrote home a letter in advance asking; hang a white handkerchief in the yard if parents are ready to take it. If the scarf will not …
However, the closer the house came, the stronger the heart beats. The house is still far away, but he does not take his eyes off, looks intently into the distance, to the place where people endlessly close to him live.
They are waiting for me at home, or I, the outcast, have to roam the world; for many days these thoughts have not given him peace.
As slowly as this train goes, it seems that it deliberately intensifies its suffering with its slow speed.
And in the distance they appeared at home. Soon will be his home. There is a white handkerchief in the courtyard of the house or not …
And suddenly … tears gushed from his eyes. He saw his home and yard, which was covered with large white sheets … ( Translated from Russian)

This above story may have been shared with similar versions across the world, either by word of mouth or in some forgotten book or been told an acquaintance or friends as “real stories” to those known by them. Maybe this story is one of those that emerge every few years, told new in one form or another. Even though the setting and the people may shift; the message endures. The feeling that it did happen, somewhere and at sometime helps one to believe int he spirit of forgiveness as well as the kindness, love and humaneness of man and society.

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” Bernard Meltzer

Posted in Christian, Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

The Spirit Within

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

In ancient Indian legend tells of a mouse that was afraid of cats until the wizard agreed to turn it into a cat. And it stopped being afraid of cats, until it met a dog. Then the wizard turned it into a dog. The mouse who was turned initially into a cat, then later as a dog, was pleased until it met the tiger. Then the wizard turned it into a tiger, the animal which it was afraid of. But when this “tiger” came to the wizard with complaints that it was afraid of the hunter, the wizard refused to help and said, “You will again become a mouse, because in your body, even as a tiger, the heart of the mouse still beats.”

“One who conquers fear cannot be conquered by anyone.” Matshona Dhliwayo

This legend often brings familiarity to many of us with similar emotions experienced at some point in our lives. There are days when one has to put on a courageous face, hiding the fear and insecurities within, in order to brave the world. Yet that is alright, as long as we shore up our inner courage by strengthening the spirit, mind and soul. Faith, hope and love are all required to maintain the courage within. In fact this is a continuous cycle, wherein which when one link is broken; it would be difficult to continue the journey without stopping to fix the “broken links”.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon

For those among us, who brave on and face both insecurities and fear, by keeping the spirit of courage in our hearts; being a mouse or a tiger, one will still prevail. Yet when we refuse to address the spirit, but seek to pacify oneself under the guise of aggressiveness or personal appeasement by accumulation of wealth, social standing and the like; the spirit will stay on only for so long, before it breaks down. Security in the material world is always temporary. One was born with the mind, soul and body with hands open and empty; the going may be similar. What we can hold on to is our spirit and memories which keeps the days going fruitful in the short time that we have been allotted here, in this world.

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou

The courage to strengthen the spirit, brave the world, live our dreams and stay true to the right morale all depends on the mind, spirit and soul. In fact, courage is a function of what we are. While the external surroundings can momentarily support us; it’s the internal soul, the fortress of spirit that generates courage and keeps us at peace within. Nothing true in life happens overnight. This will all need time, patience and fortitude with the will to stay on His Path and the true conscience. His Grace and His Spirit strengthens us to do so, as long as we let them to work on us.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes, Stories Around the World

The “Air” That We Breathe

“The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” Lady Bird Johnson

As the world gears up to acknowledge the environment today as World Environment Day (June 5th); the focus for this year is on “the air around us”. For the basic survival of man, the dependence on nature and her elements are huge. Since the beginning many things have been taken for granted, from the earth forests for shelter; water to drink; other living resources as food to the availability of air for existence. Unfortunately over time, the trend has changed from use to misuse and abuse. For those of us who live thoughtless of the future, little do we realise how much the present affects us. The rise of air pollution based diseases creeping early into childhood years to early phases of “bad lungs” from young adulthood; the impact is vast and huge.

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” Gaylord Nelson

Although this focus is on the “air” for now; gradual understanding and implementation of measures to address the core issues of climate change and pollution have to be done on small scale as well large scale to repair the significant damage done and avoid more harm. As the saying goes, “little drops of water make rivers and lakes, finally leading into seas and oceans.”

“Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs, —
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress its music.”
—Percy Bysshe Shelley

Habits started young, stay for life. Hence start small measures for now, keeping it up to slowly add on and lead to big changes. With children at home, from using water wisely, replenishing water back into the soil, recycling old toys and reusing the plastic around for school projects are few of the many measures to start off. For adolescents and young adults, options for changes act at a more significant level like carpooling, cleanliness and planting drives as well taking significant measures to reduce and reuse plastic, switch to conserve electricity as well as power use are few of the many efforts that can be made for helping to sustain the environment that we live on.

Growing older, sticking to these measures and putting them into the daily practical life is what matters the most. The clash is always between convenience, comfort, essential and effort. To “reduce, reuse and recycle”, use wisely or even sustain and conserve, is never easy but requires tremendous care, foresight and planning from one. After all, to maintain the best things in life, it was never easy. The environment is never ours alone but to be shared across all species and it has the potential to sustain us when used wise and destroy us when the balance is harmed.

The Brook
By Alfred Tennyson

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip’s farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever……

Posted in Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Reflections

Finding the “Shade”

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln

With summer break nearing to an end and summer camps coming to a close, the excited chatter and the melee around were a welcome sight last weekend. Like every year, contests were held and best prizes were announced. Interestingly during the course of events, especially at the award ceremony, the expressions on the faces of many adults, parents or guardians and the like had caught the eye. While kids were happy that they had or hadn’t secured a prize, the momentary disappointment as well loss of happiness on the adults’ faces was a cause for surprise. At the end of the day, the tussle of thoughts were whether prizes do really matter or is the joy of the vent more fun.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

The catch to happiness always depends on how one defines it. One can be happy or sad for the same reason. One can find joy for the moments or consistently ponder over the uncertainty of the next and lose sight of the present. Like there are many shades to a single colour, there are innumerable ways on how to react to a particular situation as well as choose the face of our happiness. Eventually everything boils down to our understanding of happiness in life and what it comprises of.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Guillaume Apollinaire

When we react to any event, they are two main faces that can happen. Either we chose to be happy or change the mood such that the events don’t shadow the inner happiness or peace. On the other hand, we can let the sequence of events affect one’s actions, words and thoughts dimming or darkening the mood for the day. What we fail to realize that all the wile, people around us, near or far are affected by one’s own after-effects. The change of moods can start off a chain reaction of words or actions, which in some cases, once said may not be easily taken back. When those affected around us are children, what those young minds grasp and learn from the adult behaviour goes a long way to influence and shape theirs. The next time one cribs about losing one’s happiness; look around and ponder within whether we are solely responsible for it or not. For the actions belong to others, but power of thoughts, remedial thinking and words are in our own court.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” Helen Keller

What Is Happiness?

So, what is that happiness, people?
Ones answer, “It is to be mingled
With cards, alcohol and flirtations –
And all kinds of tempting sensations.

The others have beatitude’s vision
In money and higher position:
In flattering ‘kindly’ permitted,
And awe of the workers submitted.

The thirds think that it is in actions
Reflecting the perfect relations:
Sweet kindness, good care, attention
And general hearts’ comprehension.

The fourths think that it’s just advises
To meet with your dear sunrises,
To tell her your love and your favor
And go together forever.

And sometimes the meaning is longing
That it is the permanent burning:
The job, dreams and searching enlivened,
The pair of the wings for the heaven!

I think that in all enterprises,
Has happiness different sizes:
From peaks to a lowest mound,
Depending from people around.

-Eduard Asadov, Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, March, 2001

“True happiness arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one’s self.” Joseph Addison