Posted in Life, Quotes, Random Thoughts

Still in the Works

The irony of matter being multi-dimensional is not confined to physical entities alone.

Here metaphorically speaking, the reference is to people in general. If you ever tried doing anything good or a favour, rest assured that among the three people who have heard of it, at least one would have thought about whether the good part would have benefits. On the other hand, how many times have we refused innocuous favours as we feel they come with strings attached ? Honest answers though bitter would make us realize the multidimensional facet of human nature.

Having said this, we still love each other. Despite the tussles with our respective better half, altercations with family, disagreements with friends and hassles with colleagues and work authorities; nothing would make us change our world in our hearts. While we consider some unreasonable in our books, we might be the same for somebody else in their pages. As nobody is ever perfect, everyone has their unique mould with its own fair share of flaws and the cracks that makes every person a work of art.

Yes, people are unreasonable, inconsistent and selfish. And still love them. If you do good, people will accuse you of hidden self-interest and self-love. And still do good. If you are accompanied by success, you will find secret and obvious enemies. And yet strive for success. The good that you have done today will be forgotten tomorrow. And still do good. Sincerity and openness will make you vulnerable. And yet be sincere and open. What you have built over the years can collapse in an instant. And yet build. People will ask you for help, but they will blame you for it. And still help people. Give the world the best that you have and you will receive a cruel blow. And yet give the best that you have. – Mother Teresa

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Posted in Christian, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Leaving The Sandbox

A five year old girl was playing in the sandbox. Filled with a child’s unpretentious happiness, she found the simple play interesting and fun. Suddenly her mother runs up and pulls the girl out of her childhood idyll and with haste, carried her home away from the sandbox, her source of joy. Without explaining anything, the little girl was taken away from the sun warmed box of her freedom, changing the simple but happy hours of joy. Crying and not understanding what was happening, the little girl turned away from her mother screaming to go back into the sandbox. Why did the mother do it ? For from a distance, her mother had seen a huge dog broken free from its’ chains and rushing towards the sandbox. The mother knew of the imminent danger that her child was in from the hungry, ferocious and uncontrollable beast and ran to bring her child to safety.

While the child didn’t realize what has just happened, she trusts her mother to take care of. Likewise with her mother’s love and attention; she will slowly forget the bad moments, treasuring only the happy memories in the days and years to come. Deep inside her, she knows that her mother will keep a watch over her and step in wherever and whenever possible to save her from the other potential precarious situations.

Isn’t this situation similar when we find something snatched from our hands just as we were enjoying it ? Do we ever know why from time to time God takes you something that is so dear to us?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Like the caring mother God takes away from us what we take to be our sandbox like our favorite work, strong relationships, savings. Whether it is getting fired, losing a friend or suffering material loss, He takes away from us the feeling of comfort which we are so eager to hold onto. Although we may never know what is happening at that moment, in hindsight we come to realize that our life has changed for the better. For God does not always explain the essence of what is happening and its benefits for us. Yet we realize much later that the change was for our own good. Like the girl who was taken away from the sandbox for her safety, we have our whole lives ahead of us which may be unpredictable but happy if we keep our Faith steadfast in His Mighty Works.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

 

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

A Child of Today

To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and ringing laughter. P. T. Barnum

On the occasion of India celebrating every 14th of November as Children’s Day (celebrated on the day of birth of the first Prime Minister of Independent India and one of the great leaders who dearly loved children, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru ); it would be meaningful if we reflect how our children are faring in the world of today. With the advent of technology, nuclear families, both parents working and the rise of the internet; one often wonders what has happened to the playgrounds, parks and neighbourhood lots where once we used to play in our childhood. Of course, this must be a moot point to ponder with the rise of “modernization, development and smart technology kids”. Though, it leaves room for thought on whether we have lost the genes of physical play (not just the hands or feet) and creative thinking with strategy as well as group interaction. Pretty difficult to decide on it, when all the modern gadgets claim the development of the very same genes.

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

These days, I often dread to read the entire newspaper in the mornings. With the rising rate of crime and delinquency against the children as well as by the children, it brings to shameful light of the neglect and selfishness that we as adults are engaged in. Besides not caring for the young, sometimes we ourselves indulge in acts causing danger to them. To quote the author Pam Leo,”Children are mirrors, they reflect back to us all we say and do.” Have you ever heard of a lioness killing its’ healthy young in their pride or healthy eaglets being killed by their own ? Are we better than the animals or worse ?

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Mathew 18:6 and 10, New International Version) One thing for sure, we have lost the sound of a child’s laugh as they are too caught up in the web of modernized theoretical learning, violence, fear and technology. If we become too late to change this, we are facing with the coming of the dark ages of carbon clones, monotonous, violence with production lines of robotic and mechanical output boxes instead of bright, creative or artistic minds with gentle hearts.

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings. Hodding Carter”

Practical learning starts in the family and community where children learn the basics of humaneness, love, respect, harmony and kindness. As they venture into the portals of education they learn the principles and mechanics of nature, science, art as well as history. While these aspects are important all the same, care should be taken that character is built with love, respect and mutual acceptance as well understanding of humanity. In the process of gaining an education, the ethos of life should not be lost or buried under purely selfish interests. Remember the era of the dinosaurs versus the mammals.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. Billy Graham

So while we watch the next generation growing up, whether we be foster or birth parents, guardians, educators, aunts, uncles, singles or couples; make the difference through families, neighbourhoods as well as communities. No matter how small the attention and care may be for us, for the child it is a big matter. For trees never become big, tall, provide shade or bear fruit unless we understand what they need and take due care of them. For the children learn from us, just by watching us, leave alone words and lectures. For, “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. Charles R. Swindoll” With that, lets hope we as adults change so that our children grow to leave a beautiful legacy for the distant years, though only time shall know.

Posted in Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

When the Water Boils

Everyone has their own batch of problems popping all over the place. Some we solve whereas we sleep on others. While some of us emerge from it stronger, others succumb to it and few get buried under them. The challenge to living is trying to get past the neon signs which flash “trouble ahead”. Armed with a cavalier attitude and fortitude, most glitches can be fought down to reach the temporary goal posts we have set up.By maintaining our perspectives and perseverance, eventually all adversities can be overcome. For life in a flat plane would hold no discoveries or memories. It’s how we react to the boiling water that makes all the difference.

Although I don’t know the source of the story, read on to find which one we would be.

The carrot, the egg and the coffee bean

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me, what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water. “Which are you?” the mother asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?” Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Photography Art

Actions mirror Thoughts

“Mirror mirror on the wall”

This line had first made its appearance in the “Snow White”, a 19th-century German fairy tale first published by The Brothers Grimm published in the first edition of their collection of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. After being translated to English, it has found its’ way into various works of art, entertainment and literature.

While in the story we deal with a magic mirror who gives answers, in reality mirrors reflect what is there. There is no addition or subtraction involved unless if the mirrors are concave or convex where they become distorted or multiple mirrors which cause way too many images. Likewise our actions and feelings mirror our thoughts. It is like a two way street. If we think good, we feel good and do good. Then the question arises of how do we get rid of the bad or unwanted thoughts lurking in our mind. The cluster of bad or depressing feelings we encounter in our interactions with others can’t be easily suppressed by flipping a switch. By sweeping these emotions under the carpet, we gather them as dust which finally will accumulate to a point when it will cause a drastic slip when we least expect it. These are triggers of what will lead to even worse situations down the time frame.

The only way out is to address them. Just as our thoughts and feelings mirror our actions, eventually we will succumb to the former unless we resolve to tackle them. Sometimes to find a solution is difficult, then we reach an acceptance and search for alternatives for a way out so that those emotions are dealt with or faced. While some of us may take the physical form of de-stressing our thoughts, others will turn to creative art or faith to seek answers or simply express. Whatever may it be, find a way out before we get locked in the trap of mirroring our thoughts positive and negative into actions which may later lead to regret. Time and again, the old adage “what goes around, comes around” has been proved, so instead of refuting it with mirrors of our negative emotions, find something to vent the latter and turn the mood to optimism coated with realism.

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

Trace the Bridges

In forensic sciences there is a principle known as Locard’s exchange principle which states that the perpetrator of a crime will bring something into the crime scene and leave with something from it, and that both can be used as forensic evidence. Although these words written by Locard was, “It is impossible for a criminal to act, especially considering the intensity of a crime, without leaving traces of this presence.”

Nevertheless setting aside crime scenes, what was dwelling in my mind were two words “exchange” and “traces”. Although the principle above may sound simple, what one fails to realize is that our every human interaction and relationship works on exchange and traces. There is an exchange of human emotions, ideas, behaviour, words and actions leaving behind imprints or traces in the near or distant future behaviour or interactions. Along the exchanges, sometimes we end up in having misconceptions, misunderstandings and mistrust, finally leading to innumerable issues. While some issues may be genuine and easily resolvable by a little give and take, others may either be irrevocably knotty or may be there as courtesy of making a mountain out of a molehill. Yet the catch is that we will never know unless we try.

Human relationships are of a very fragile nature. They need a lot of care and fostering to maintain and grow. Even the ones that seem rock solid might falter if the small pebbles strewn in the path aren’t cleared. On the other hand walls and fences are rock solid and never crumble, but they are meant for walling in or isolation. Until we learn to build bridges to keep the flow of exchange of ideas, emotions and interactions, we wouldn’t be able to leave behind traces either. After all life without meaning is purposeless, for what everyone wants among the deepest desire buried in their hearts is to be wanted and loved.  Then on, the rest will follow.

As the story between the two brothers go, everyday we have the choice of building fences or bridges. One leads to isolation and the other to openness. Yet the final decision is ours to make. While we need to know which bridges to cross or which to burn, sometimes we need more than one chance to decide the outcome of whether to cross the bridge or not. Either way the course of action is ours to decide and the sequelae that follows, we ourselves will have to face.

The two brothers

Once upon a time, two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods as needed without a hitch. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. One morning there was a knock on John’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. “I’m looking for a few days work,” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you?” “Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbour. In fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river levee and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build me a fence – an 8-foot fence – so I won’t need to see his place anymore. Cool him down anyhow.” The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the post hole digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.”

The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.
The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, and nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The farmer’s eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge – a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work – handrails and all – and the neighbour, his younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.” The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I’ve a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother. “I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, ” but I have many more bridges to build.”

Everyday we have the choice of building fences or bridges. One leads to isolation and the other to openness.

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

Choose the Shades

With the advent of technology, there is a whole world of information out there. Along with it comes a slew of ideas, thoughts and opinions for the various events we find ourselves surrounded by. Consequently there is always a tussle between what is true or correct and what is wrong or falsified. Unfortunately not everything is in black or white, there are shades of gray that are far too many to differentiate. It becomes quite difficult to decide on the final course of action or words to reach an outcome.

Many claim on bringing the truth to light. Yet the truth can be tinged by the shades of relativity, haziness to opaqueness, lack or inaccessibility of information, communication deficits and sometimes varies as per one’s perspective. So how to discern the right and the wrong ? That’s when we remove the filters in our mind and look at the bare bones of basic facts.

Then we can imagine a blank page and then try drawing on it. With our senses finely attuned and instincts honed in, we can get the picture as long as all preconceived notions and perceptions are thrown out of mind. For besides misinterpretation, the latter clouds our individual thinking and judgement. Instead we lean on our strong sense of morality, honour and humanness to highlight the right colours to blend in as we draw the lines or curves. In such a scenario, the picture we draw would make us feel satisfied.

As an old Indian folklore goes, every blind man had felt the elephant but in parts, for none of them could step back and see the bigger picture. In real life, there may be situations where we have to decide an outcome or relay information, which would consequently lead to a chain of events which can be disastrous for some while positive for others. Then instead of clouding our minds with what we know, it’s easier to take a fresh page, write in the lines and then put in all the facts and knowledge that we have gleaned through our travels of life. For then even though perspectives may vary, the decisions will be based in a complete context on hard facts, certainty and true events not on speculation, hearsay or filtered imaginations. What’s good for one may be bad for others, but in the long run if both benefit then it is worth the change.

The Blind Men and The Elephant

A long time ago in the valley of the Brahmaputra River in India there lived six men who were much inclined to boast of their wit and lore. Though they were no longer young and had all been blind since birth, they would compete with each other to see who could tell the tallest story. One day, however, they fell to arguing. The object of their dispute was the elephant. Now, since each was blind, none had ever seen that mighty beast of whom so many tales are told. So, to satisfy their minds and settle the dispute, they decided to go and seek out an elephant. Having hired a young guide, Dookiram by name, they set out early one morning in single file along the forest track, each placing his hands on the back of the man in front. It was not long before they came to a forest clearing where a huge bull elephant, quite tame, was standing contemplating his menu for the day.
The six blind men became quite excited; at last they would satisfy their minds. Thus it was that the men took turns to investigate the elephant’s shape and form.

As all six men were blind, neither of them could see the whole elephant and approached the elephant from different directions. After encountering the elephant, each man proclaimed in turn:
“O my brothers,” the first man at once cried out, “it is as sure as I am wise that this elephant is like a great mud wall baked hard in the sun.”
“Now, my brothers,” the second man exclaimed with a cry of dawning recognition, “I can tell you what shape this elephant is – he is exactly like a spear.”
The others smiled in disbelief.
“Why, dear brothers, do you not see,” said the third man, “this elephant is very much like a rope,” he shouted.
“Ha, I thought as much,” the fourth man declared excitedly, “this elephant much resembles a serpent.”
The others snorted their contempt.
“Good gracious, brothers,” the fifth man called out, “even a blind man can see what shape the elephant resembles most. Why he’s mightily like a fan.”
At last, it was the turn of the sixth old fellow and he proclaimed, “This sturdy pillar, brothers, mine, feels exactly like the trunk of a great areca palm tree.”
Of course, no one believed him.

Their curiosity satisfied, they all linked hands and followed the guide, Dookiram, back to the village. Once there, seated beneath a waving palm, the six blind men began disputing loud and long. Each now had his own opinion, firmly based on his own experience, of what an elephant is really like. For after all, each had felt the elephant for himself and knew that he was right!And so indeed he was. For depending on how the elephant is seen, each blind man was partly right, though all were in the wrong.