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

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

Notion to Concept : Resolutions

And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. Rainer Maria Rilke

With the year coming to a close, the most frequently asked question and the most discussed topic, besides the plans for the new year, are if one has made any new resolutions for the next year. The tradition of “New Year’s Resolutions” simply translates into a list of resolves to change the undesired characteristics, traits or behaviour, as well as to accomplish one’s list of personal goals, wishes or dreams. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t technically a new age phenomenon or a modern trend.

“Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.” Neil Gaiman

As far as history has traced to approximately 4000 years ago, early Babylonians made promises to their gods at the beginning of each year to return the borrowed and pay their dues. Similar trend was seen among the Romans as well. Fast forwarding to the medieval era, knights re-affirmed their commitment to chivalry every year by taking the “peacock vow” at end of the Christmas season. There are many religious parallels especially in Judaism, the Lent season where one has to reflect on one’s wrongdoings and make amends.

“Move out of you comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” Brian Tracy

Yet the trend caught on especially at the end of the Great Depression where more people began to make New Year Resolutions. While research has shown that resolution made during the new year were more likely to succeed, each one has their own story and version of events. All said, if we decide to make them keeping them short, simple, targeted and realistic, will make the resolutions happen. For being human we need to look forward to something each day and resolutions give the hope that things do change when we try.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, And next year’s words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot

Posted in Life, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Feed which Wolf

The two wolves

A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered: “The one I feed.”

For those of us who are avid readers of cartoons, comic strips and the “kids fun pages” in the newspaper, may have heard of the famous line, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” These words I first came across when I read Popeye, the Sailor. The truth we become what we feed ourselves. Our actions echo what our thoughts dwell in. The behaviour and our outlook reflects the character that lives as a result of what we think and believe in.

Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you. Joel Osteen

In our lives we come across many situations and people. With the unpredictable nature of time, if we react to everything then we end up being buried in a quagmire of bad thoughts and emotions. Instead on dealing with unpleasantness, glean off the bad parts and only retain the better sections. Let the words enter through one ear and exit the other, bypassing the cortical cells which store the memories and words. To an extent while we can’t control what others say to us, what we can control is our reaction to it. Retain the better parts, for those will sustain us. If the bad parts hold no truth, then leave it. Yet if they are mistakes on our part, it’s easier to accept our faults when genuine and then move in. For staying stuck in a rut, is no way to live life.

I realized that if my thoughts immediately affect my body, I should be careful about what I think. Now if I get angry, I ask myself why I feel that way. If I can find the source of my anger, I can turn that negative energy into something positive. Yoko Ono

Posted in Daily, Life, Reflections, Stories Around the World

Attain Peace of Mind

“Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.” Thomas Huxley

Very often we feel that our minds are too restless, filled with disturbing thoughts of “what-ifs”, “whys”, “hows” and “when”. Yet the reality is that all these are suppositions of things that have yet to happen or sequence of events that we are trying to predict. The truth is man by nature is restless and in trying to alleviate this feeling, we dwell in unnecessary chaos. Finally we claim that the peace is disturbed.

“If you want peace of mind, stop fighting with your thoughts.” Anonymous

Peace of mind revolves around a state of calmness both mental and emotional, not harbouring thoughts of no worries, fears or stress. Then the mind is quiet and one experiences a sense of happiness with freedom. Although such peaceful moments are not rare, they are hard to attain unless we empty our thoughts once in a while. Once we practice the art of “let it be, let go” and putting our stress in a jar to hand over to God, we then discover that the weight of jar has reduced after sometime. Slowly over time, the peace within returns and the days don’t become dreary anymore.

Once Buddha was walking from one town to another town with a few of his followers. This was in the initial days. While they were travelling, they happened to pass a lake. They stopped there and Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from that lake there.” The disciple walked up to the lake. When he reached it, he noticed that some people were washing clothes in the water and, right at that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy, very turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink!” So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.” After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake and get him some water to drink. The disciple obediently went back to the lake. This time he found that the lake had absolutely clear water in it. The mud had settled down and the water above it looked fit to be had. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha. Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said, “See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be and the mud settled down on its own and you got clear water. Your mind is also like that. When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”

What did Buddha emphasize here? He said, “It is effortless.” Having ‘peace of mind’ is not a strenuous job; it is an effortless process. When there is peace inside you, that peace permeates to the outside. It spreads around you and in the environment, such that people around start feeling that peace and grace.

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

Firefly among the Butterflies

In a playground, a crowd of children will be involved in a game with one or two kids coordinating the game. Some days sitting a little apart, one would find a child scribbling away on a piece of paper, few would be just watching while one would be trying to climb a tree instead and the other may be watching a ladybug crawl in the ground.

Fast forward a few years ahead, among the bunch of college goers, few would shine at the events, some behind the scene to make the event happen while others watch the show. Yet there will few who prefer to curl up with a good book, or sketch their dreams and designs or enjoy creating what they fancy in the kitchen.

As the college goers grow, some become the life of the party, some become the charismatic leader who can make things happen by encouraging others to scale the wall while others enter the groups of people who follows the order so that the final outcome would be beneficial to all. And yet among all of group, there would be a few who would be silently lost in their world of books, poetry, art, animation, photography, writing indulging in what they love and glowing there. Yet if they are stuck in the mould of the world for long, the light in them dies.

“I had a dream about you last night. I was alone on a dark night and you came to me as a firefly. I knew it was you because you were the brightest.” Crystal Hudson

We label one group of people introverts and other as extroverts. Yet the author Rachel Stafford refers to them as fireflies and butterflies. She discovered these terms during a conversation with her 7 year old daughter. Her daughter had described a school activity that day where the teacher asked, “What is Your Favorite Insect?” Stafford’s daughter said that her favorite insect was the firefly even though the other students in the class chose the butterfly. She admitted to her mother that sometimes she fills different at school as a firefly. Stafford told her daughter that she agreed that her little girl was very much a firefly because she shines from within. She assured her daughter that Stafford’s role as a mother was to protect that light and asked her daughter to let her know when others at school tried to dim her light.

The world does not need a large number of “successful people” or extroverts alone. The planet desperately needs peacekeepers, restorers, storytellers, writers, dreamers and thinkers. She needs all people to live well with. There are a lot of fireflies among us, in our family and at our workplaces as well as daily interactions. The world needs both the butterflies and fireflies. Extinction of one will affect the other and surplus of one will imbalance the entire ecosystem. While fireflies will shine when it’s their time, it’s important to not kill their light.

“Don’t be anyone’s firefly in a jar! A lot of people are attracted to the light. Some are also intimidated by it. They selfishly try to keep it for themselves. Sometimes it happens so fast, you don’t even realize you’re being captured. There is magic within you that will suffocate in a jar. If you wake up one morning and realize there’s a lid above you, do whatever it takes to free yourself. Life is much better beyond the jar. The world needs your light! Shine, Baby, shine!” Sheri Fink

The fireflies among our children, family and friends have to be encouraged, cared and helped instead of being suppressed, laughed on and imprisoned or remodeled into another frame. Each firefly has their own special light or spark that brings the magic to the night and add little light to the dark. As for the fireflies out there, keep of on shining, singing and creating the special light, knowing that each courageous firefly is special with their own light and own area to shine. Remember, no butterfly can shine like the firefly.

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Quotes

The Bucket List

The 2007 movie “The Bucket List”, a comedy-drama film revolves around two terminally ill men on their road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket”. The screenplay was written by Justin Zackham with the word “bucket list” and had started off the trend of listing down what one wants to do before they die.

At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable. Christopher Reeve

Although the concept of “bucket list” was officially there since 2006, the wish-list has been there before. Though not documented, many have had their list of wishes and desires to do, especially when faced with crippling uncertainty of their existence. Yet as the movie brought this to a highlight, many had began to jot down their list and started to cross off what they wanted to achieve in their short span of time. Eventually the trend shifted to university and college, where the list began with as long as fifty to hundred things to do before one meet their eventual end.

“Don’t worry, I plan on living a long time.”
“Why are you making a bucket list, then?”
“Because if you wait until you’re really dying, it’s too late.”  Gayle Forman

“What is the purpose ? Do we need it ? I am still young and I have time”. While these questions used to churn around in the mind, the best answer would be “yes”. Everyone needs something to look forward to, especially when they are in the dumps or caught in the mundane chaos of life. When we list down what we want to do, not the daily or weekly “to-do’s” but the desires and events we want to do so as to experience the fun and beauty of living; it makes every drab day more interesting. Besides helping us to look forward, “listing our favourite things to do” helps to retain a sense of positivism, balance, feeling of lightness and being alive. Unknown to us, jotting down our bucket list helps to battle the depressive mentality that takes root in us at times.

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo

Is there a limit ? There is no limit or confinement to the “n” number of things you can do. It can be simple, weird, quiet or adventurous; it doesn’t really matter as “your bucket list” is for you, about you and what you would like. Despite the “busy days”, find time to make one soon, before time snatches you away. For those of us who have a list and never got to do anything about it, find few minutes daily to make it happen. Out of the 86400 seconds allotted to us, 1800 seconds doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. When we start the small steps, we realize that we are slowly crossing off the items off our wish list and soon will find time for the bigger ones. Let the bucket list happen, as the feeling of elation and completion can be better felt than explained.

“I wanna go on a road trip someday. Alone or with someone I love. I wanna get away. Explore places. Sleep in the car. Stop a lot just to admire the view. Visit museums and try out coffee shops. Listen to my favorite albums while driving. Have a Polaroid camera. Take pretty pictures of the sunrise. Take pictures of myself. Run through a forest. Chase fog. Chase the sun. Spend hours on a field making flower crowns. Feel the wind in my hair. Buy souvenirs. Meet people. Take time to observe. I wanna make memories. I wanna feel alive.” — Things on my bucket list

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

Aim of Schooling

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King Jr.

As an infant grows up into a toddler entering childhood, one of the first things parents do, is to rush them into pre-school or centers for education to foster their growth of knowledge, skills and learning. Then the next stage is to ensure their admission into the best schools of the locality with high marks performance of marks and grades. Schooling is an extensive way of learning whereby understanding and ability of students are passed on from one initiation to the next by guidance and examinations. The primary purpose of schooling is not just to impart knowledge, but to enable the children of today to be productive for the distant tomorrow of society and to lead the future.

Education comes from within; you get it by struggle and effort and thought. Napoleon Hill

School doesn’t pave the way only to be literate, get jobs, vote or to be a professional. Instead it broadens the horizons, helps to find the inner talents and gifts, putting them to good use. School initiates children for the basics of life, finding self confidence and ability to stand on their own feet, rooting for the right ideals and strong principles. Unfortunately the current scenario of schools and education is to stereotype each child and mould them into a particular profession, whether it is by their choice is irrelevant. The fault lies not only with them alone, but also with parents and society who classify children based on their professional qualifications and job capacities.

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”  Plato

The catch to all the school based learning is whether it prepares our children for the realities of life. As they mature into young adults, children and adolescents get trapped in the social structure of thoughts, patterns and needs of the society foregoing their own likes, talents and gifts. Just like the eagles which soars the skies and cheetah the land, substitute their places or confine them in boxes, they lose their ability to fight, survive and appreciate life. This scenario could be metaphorically extended to children who are being moulded into the schools for grades and marks alone. Instead we, society as a whole, lose out on special talents, skills and art. There is more to life than jobs, grades, marks and examinations. Though they are indeed necessary, they are not what life is all about. For the most successful person that we know with the best grades making good money can be the unhappiest, dissatisfied or mentally disturbed on the inside. Let each child look beyond the exams and do what they love and excel in. The rest will follow.

This letter to the parents of students was written by the director of the Singapore school. But what do you want to be read by all parents in all schools in the world.
“Dear Parents. Your children will begin examinations soon. I know that you are all very worried that they should pass them well. But please remember: among the students in this exam there will be an artist who does not need to understand mathematics thoroughly. There will be an entrepreneur for whom history or English literature is not so important. A musician who does not need chemistry. An athlete for whom physical education is more important than physics. Great if your child gets good grades. But please do not deprive them of their self-confidence and dignity, if this does not happen. Tell them that this is normal, that this is just an exam. They are created for much more significant things in life. Tell them that whatever their assessment, you love them and you will not judge them. Please do it – and just watch how they will then conquer the world. One exam or a bad mark will not take away their dreams and talent. And please, do not consider doctors and engineers the only happy people on the planet. With best regards, the director of the school “