Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

Pillars that Nurture

“The glory of the elderly is their insight to life.” Lailah Gifty Akita

One of the most awaited events that causes unabashed eagerness of the kids to head to the homestead during holidays, is the time spent fishing with their grandparents. Hand in hand, the kids along with their grandfather and great-uncles head off to the lake in the early morning hours. On some days, there is quite a catch but on other days maybe nothing. Yet the loss of a good catch was negated by the interesting stories and legends narrated by their elders. It was interesting to listen to the recounted versions on the drive back home or later in the following weeks. There are certain priceless things that parents can’t teach their children, at times simply due to the lack of time or different levels of responsibilities cropping up. Those are the times when the gaps are filled in by their grandparents.

“The wiser mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind.” William Wordsworth 

One of the benefits of having a strong support system, of family, friends and community is that when one falls, there are hands to break the fall. This support system is like a huge tree with sturdy branches. As a small tree, the few larger older branches support, shade and model the new smaller branches. With their strength and shape, they balance the entire tree, providing sustenance for the smaller branches and reach for the light. Over time the other branches grow large, join with other clusters and support the older branches. As the old branches age, grow weak, die or fall away, the branches above take over their role, supporting the new young branches. A large support system works on similar lines.

“Their dark forms are larger than life, because memories like that grow along with your body, so that adults from our childhood always resemble an extinct race of old gods, still towering over us.” Stefan Hertmans

Unfortunately one of the strong contenders for the time of the kids, is lure of the modern entertainment. As more and more time is spent on “the modern development” of learning through applications, television, social media and the like, under the guise of “modern learning”, the memories and fresh experiences of childhood are often missed. There a lot of things that elders who have lived their lives with integrity, love and dignity can teach the younger ones. Like the experiences their parents had shared with their grandparents, from learning to fish, camp outside, have a good laugh, fun in the garden, the value of a good friendship, respect for elders and all beings, to work hard, to love and live to the fullest at each age of life. The list is long. Cooped up in the mesh of “the modern skills, media and entertainment”, a lot can be missed during the best years of childhood. All the branches of the tree contribute in a silent way. Unless each one as their role played out, the “family tree” fails to sustain and grow new fruit and saplings from it’s seeds or centuries for the future centuries.

“Where there is not community, trust, respect, ethical behavior are difficult for the young to learn and for the old to maintain.” Robert K. Greenleaf

“Listen to your elder’s advice. Not because they are always right, but because they have more experience of being wrong…” Unknown

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Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes, Random Thoughts

Remembrances over Time

“I believe that without memories there is no life, and that our memories should be of happy times.” Lee Radziwill

With a long weekend break round the corner, it was time to pack off for the stay at the family homestead, where the original family farm was still running strong and where the golden memories of childhood lay. One of the reasons for planning this long overdue stay was for the children to bond with their extended family, spend some time away from the city and live simple, minus the video games, mobile phones, laptops and the like. Although there was an initial resistance, they loved their time spent outdoors with the cattle, gardening, late summer berry picking, early morning fishing and the quiet evening of family games. Seeing their carefree laughter and fun, at times one wishes that they could live their best moments of life once again. That weekend reminded me of the fact that, time only moves forward and ahead, but never backwards.

“Don’t you wish you could take a single childhood memory and blow it up into a bubble and live inside it forever?” Sarah Addison Allen

Most of us have our own cache of memories, some meant for bringing the inner peace during troubled times, some as a solace during the trying days and some that just pop up randomly during self doubt. Like the seasons that change, each one of us make memories every single moment. The innocent “don’t forget to call when you reach”, “take care “, “travel safe” and so on, echo the presence of pleasant feelings when these words surface in the memory. At times, even when the scenarios have changed, these instant memories and candid moments are those which stay on. It doesn’t take much to make each day memorable. A lot of kindness, dash of love, attention and peace, laced with a fresh sense of humour, humaneness and honesty makes treasured moments from each day of life, changing our own lives and those around us subtly and silently.

“Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.” Willa Cather

“I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair

I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring
That I shall ever see

For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know

But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet
And voices at the door”
J.R.R. Tolkien

I Sit Beside the Fire and Think is a song by Bilbo Baggins, which he sang softly in Rivendell on 24 December T.A. 3018, the evening before the Fellowship of the Ring set out upon their quest. Bilbo sang the song in the presence of Frodo, after giving Frodo the mithril-coat and Sting. The song is a contemplative piece, sung by a now-aging hobbit recalling past events that ends in anticipation of hearing returning friends.

“Long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.” Helen Keller

Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Across the Road

“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea

While visiting the extended family as a part of the routine monthly road trip; travel sickness, traffic gridlocks and bad roads are major issues often encountered. Although one comes out of them to reach the farmstead, time is often lost. Consequently after two long journeys courtesy of road congestion, we had decided to leave a little early, around the wee morning hours. Although it was difficult packing up the family including toddler, pets and all for a two day stay; the task was accomplished with joint effort of both the adults. While the first journey was successful, the second was bad due to the unprecedented rains and really bad worn out roads. Consequently the route was adjusted to include the state highways. Though extra distance was covered, the journey was not hampered by bad roads or excessively heavy traffic. Change from the familiar and adaptability to the situation paved way for the smooth travel.

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.” Georg C. Lichtenberg

There may be similar instances in our lives, wherein one has to take a different route to reach the final target. Even though the final target is an appreciated goal, deflecting from the routine, known or approved approach encounters a lot of courage and foresight to go ahead, in the face of open opposition and criticism. A lot of security is often laid at doing something in the known way. While the “known” helps one many a time, at times it is necessary to try a different technique to achieve the purpose.

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.” Bill Clinton

Through history and time, to try again and not give up has been the requisite for achievement of any goal, dream or target. Yet constantly trying to find a way out through the tiny spaces of the bricks doesn’t help us cross the path, unless one remodels the bricks to a more suitable form. Simply putting in extra hours isn’t the sole method to achieve more. Instead finding an alternative method, correct, true and just with adequate effort, perseverance and determination combined with intelligence and smart honest work helps us reach the dream. When the stakes are solely set on “harder than ever” instead of “trying better, different and with thought”; the former may kill the chance of a breakthrough.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller

I’m sitting in a quiet room at the Millcroft Inn, a peaceful little place hidden back among the pine trees about an hour out of Toronto. It’s just past noon, late July, and I’m listening to the desperate sounds of a life-or-death struggle going on a few feet away. There is a small fly burning out the last of its short life’s energy in a futile attempt to fly through the glass of the windowpane. The whining wings tell the poignant story of the fly’s strategy – try harder. But it’s not working. The frenzied effort offers no hope for survival. Ironically, the struggle is part of the trap. It is impossible for the fly to try hard enough to succeed at breaking the glass. Nevertheless, this little insect has staked its life on reaching its goal through raw effort and determination. This fly is doomed. It will die there on the windowsill.
Across the room, ten steps away, the door is open. Ten seconds of flying time and this small creature could reach the outside world it seeks. With only a fraction of the effort now being wasted, it could be free of this self-imposed trap. The breakthrough possibility is there. It would be so easy.
Why doesn’t the fly try another approach, something dramatically different? How did it get so locked in on the idea that this particular route, and determined effort, offers the promise of success? What logic is there in continuing, until death, to seek a breakthrough with ‘more of the same’? No doubt this approach makes sense to the fly. Regrettably, it’s an idea that will kill.
Author: Price Pritchett

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Henry Ford

Posted in Daily, Personal Musings, Quotes, Random Thoughts

Silent Change

“How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss

Watching my toddler buy his new shoes highlights the fact of how fast this little child is growing. Comparing with the regular pattern of behaviour, unlike the constant tantrums and upheavals while leaving the comfort of his home and familiar surroundings, today he is more keen to attend school, accompany to grocery shopping and help out in the garden, in spite of the little bugs and ants crawling around. Over time, there has been a change in the understanding of the world around him. While one observes the changes in others’ especially children, their own changes often go unnoticed. While some changes are good, some aren’t desired ones.

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Theresa

One of the less desired changes in the adult life over time, is the occasional “putting off of the goals, priorities, to-do list or responsibilities” which later get morphed into the “art of doing it tomorrow”. Procrastination has been one of the deadliest vices of man. Believing in the ready availability of tomorrow, one often tends to take the today for granted. Little does one remember or acknowledge that, to get to the tomorrow around the corner, one has to walk of today. Instead of walking but taking a few paces, tomorrow will be on the same road and not around the corner. While putting off the seemingly tedious tasks of today, they won’t be gone tomorrow.

One has to do what is necessary to be done, at the given point of time in their lives. Doing it at the right time is what matters.

Too lazy to start on the weight loss goals, do them soon before the “diseases of the modern lifestyle” take complete hold of one’s schedule or life. Putting off the roof repair plans, would result in a collapse during the unexpected downpour. Putting off doing the embroidery hobby one is fond of, do it soon before there is even less time in the future. All it takes is one start for a few minutes. Eventually the flow will set in and before one knows, the task is tried, perfected and accomplished. That sense of self achievement, pride and wonder is one to treasure and review for inspiration and courage during hard moments.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” Eric Roth

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

Sliver of Hope

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Christopher Reeve

While awaiting scholarship and university acceptance for higher studies, volunteering in the cancer ward at the city hospital for brownie points was one of my interim jobs. The experience during those three short months was enlightening and had a paramount influence in the later years of my life. Seeing the faces of different years, from the young adult to the elderly as they underwent the various stages of their treatment be it chemo or radiation or both had a wide range of emotions running across them. While there was disbelief, despair and regret at the initial phases it was the acceptance, hope and the will to survive that had surfaced as the treatment progressed. Although some responded and some didn’t, it was the will to try and the hope for better tomorrow that gave the will to live today.

“It is because of hope that you suffer. It is through hope that you’ll change things.” Maxime Lagacé

Carrying those memories towards the later years of life, one gears up to face setbacks and disappointments of life with perseverance and will to go on. What drives the person in the face of all odds, is the promise and hope of the future. In fact, hope is really a special, wonderful and marvellous gift from God, Time and Faith. Although hope may vary, bend around the corners, twists to a very thin segment and hides from plain sight, it never breaks or vanishes as long as one never forgets it. When the darkness, doubt and despair set in; it is hope that sustains one, giving a reason to go on, courage to let go and move ahead. Instead of giving up or sinking down, it is hope that helps one to stay afloat and survive.

“I dwell in possibility.” Emily Dickinson

While one needs to sustain and nurture hope to get out of tough times; sitting simply and twiddling doesn’t help. Instead combine fortitude, strength and courage with a heavy dose of knowledge, foresight, will and hope to go ahead and face the situation. Although one hopes for the best, preparation for the worst scenario should be made. Refresh the hope and the will to survive, then event he darkest corner would light up.

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

If you can look at the sunset and smile, and find beauty in the colours of a small flower, then you still have hope.
If you can find pleasure in the movement of a butterfly, and if the smile of a child can still warm your heart, then you still have hope.
If you can see the good in other people, and if the rain breaking on a roof top can still lull you to sleep, then you still have hope.
If the sight of a rainbow still makes you stop and stare in wonder, and if the soft fur of a favoured pet still feels pleasant under your fingertips, then you still have hope.
If you meet new people with a trace of excitement and optimism, and if you give people the benefit of the doubt, then you still have hope.
If you still offer your hand in friendship to others that have touched your life, and if receiving an unexpected card or letter still brings a pleasant surprise, then you still have hope.
If the suffering of others still fills you with pain and frustration, and if you refuse to let a friendship die, or accept that it must end, then you still have hope.
If you look forward to a time or place of quiet and reflection, and if you still watch love stories or want the endings to be happy, then you still have hope.
If you can look to the past and smile, and when faced with the bad, when told everything is futile, you can still look up and end the conversation with the phrase … ‘yes, but ….’ Then you still have hope. (Source: vk.com)

“Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things, and good things never die.” Andy Dufresne (Shawshank Redemption)

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Reflections, Work

Let Go and Fly

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” Lao Tzu

With the turn of the weather, rains settling down a little bit and the wind picking up speed; evenings are meant for long walks. Quite often one may spot the chirping of birds as they settle for the night or the distant view of the migratory birds as they gather speed for their next lap of their journey. Before settling for the night the local birds have to find a spot to sleep in; which should be well away from the rain, wind and safe. For this, they can be found flitting from one branch to another, finding high ground perches away from the two and four legged beings who may not just disrupt their sleep but harm them. To find a new place, they need to let go of their old perch. As morning hours come, these birds wake up the world from a different perch. Unless a little bird has the courage to leave the nest, neither it won’t be able to fly, explore the different branches nor see new sights from there.

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” C. JoyBell C.

Like the birds that find different perches depending on their situation, one needs to find the similar courage and foresight in life to let go of the emotional branches of life that one tends to cling to. From innate beliefs, vices, negative emotions, regrets, bad memories and the like are the slippery branches where one tends to fall from. Clinging to them can prove to be unsafe and dangerous in the long run. Add to it, the feel of privileges, possessions and false safety make us stick on to that one branch, which may be well high for some time but later has been slowly breaking down and gathering rot.

“It’s hard to be clear about who you are when you are carrying around a bunch of baggage from the past. I’ve learned to let go and move more quickly into the next place.” Angelina Jolie

Knowing that the branches one clings to, stops them from fling high helps to change their respective positions and find new ground. In life, there will be times when one needs to fly, stay on safe ground or just watch the situation without a reaction. Like the birds, knowing to do what when and where, requires one to use their memories (not just cling on to them) and adapt to the situation by the right time and at the right moment.

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.” Steve Maraboli

To experience life and their various branches, use the time to let go of the clinging perch and find the courage to fly, to higher levels. While learning to experience the new vantage points, diving headlong into trouble or danger isn’t on the list. Let go but don’t be blind. As in every experience, be the like the bird, exploring new views but keeping their eyes open, exploring their surroundings with foresight, curiosity and care. Find the strength and soar high.

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” Ann Landers

No one can drive a car with different pressures in the tyres or cover long distances with less fuel. Unless one stops to change the tyre, fill the tank; one can’t go ahead. Likewise no bird flies high looking behind. It moves forward looking below, above and straight ahead as it covers different angles through its flight. Instead of looking back, use the past experiences to fly, experience the present and shape the future.

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Quotes

Lessons of Fall

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Though the week is in its full swing, the days of autumn call for the awakening of the soul and refreshing of the mind. A few minutes held up in the long traffic queue, the view from the office window, the passing beauty of the landscapes on the bus or train journey; all bring forth the inner roll of emotions running through at that time.

Fall highlights the work of nature. Despite the dry winds and gradually decreasing sunshine, the colours of nature change in tune to the adverse elements, such that to still bring out the beauty of life. Each of our lives echo in some way, the emotions of the fall. As nature shows us that even in the face of adversities; counting the received blessing and moving forward will result in a beautiful canvas being brought forth.

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” [Letter to Miss Lewis, Oct. 1, 1841]” George Eliot

Fall Reflections
Barbara Aldrich

The air is crisp and clear
As the sun slowly rises.
I witness the breaking of a new day.
I check on my basket of blessings
As if examining a bumper crop of gathered apples
And find it full; Some small, some large, but
All perfectly formed and Heaven sent.
My heart gives thanks.
I turn on the morning news
And hear stories of the shriveled
Falling leaves of other’s lives
And realize the value of the bounty
In my basket of blessings.
Feeling helpless, I pray for a short winter
And the returning of brand new leaves to
The trees that have been left bare,
And examine the blessings in my basket
For ones that I can share.