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

Drowned by Expectations

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

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

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

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

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

Keeping Our Dream Alive

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

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

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

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

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

 

Keep Your Dream

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

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

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

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

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

Jump With Faith

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ( Luke 12:25-26 (NIV))

When we always enter unknown territory, from being simply new at the workplace gatherings to high school reunions or settling into a new town to relocating to a new profession or hearing bad news in the hospital; the feeling of wariness transcends in all of us. In those times, there is nothing more comforting than having someone familiar or something familiar to lean on to. The pillar of support can range from family, friends, our church or community to our memories of good times, our old comfort blanket or even our treasured memorabilia. Yet what we often fail to realize is that the strongest comfort comes from none other than Our Father in Heaven. The gentle calmness in the restless mind, the sudden peace that flows through us, the strength to brave the new day and the hope of the new dawn are what we get when we read and understand His Word. Through centuries, the Word of God has withstood the test of time. Yet of all the things fickle in this world, His Word will never change like the weather nor will His Hope ever leave us when we put our entire trust and faith in Him.

“..But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

One day late in the evening a fire broke out in one of the houses. The whole family – the father, mother and children, shocked by what was happening, ran out into the street and watched the fire flare up. And suddenly everyone understood that among them there is no youngest member of the family – a five-year-old son. Most likely, he, frightened by the flame and smoke, instead of going down, climbed the stairs to the very top. One could not even dream of finding him. Suddenly, a window opened and a child’s distorted face appeared in it. In desperation, the father shouted: “Jump!” The kid, seeing only smoke and flames in front of him, shouted, “Dad, I can’t see you!” His father replied, “But I see you, do not be afraid, jump now!”
The boy, having gathered his courage, jumped and found himself right in the arms of his father. It is this faith that God expects from us!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Like the times when we cast our hope on our firefighters, emergency personnel and technicians, when the going gets tough and shoulders are overburdened; the sooner we cast our cares on to His Shoulders, the lesser will we be troubled and the lesser the hardships will seem For just as the song goes, “our God is an Awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, With wisdom, power, and love, Our God is an awesome God”, so will we be able to face what life throws at us.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” ( 1 Peter 5:7-10)

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

Our Civic Duty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As I taught my son not to litter

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

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

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

Building the House

There was a foreman. All his life he built houses, but he became old and decided to retire. “I quit,” he told the employer. “I am retiring. I will be with my old woman with grandchildren to nurse. His boss was sorry to part with this man, and he asked him: ” Listen, let’s do it, build the last house and we will retire. With a good premium!” The foreman agreed. According to the new project, he had to build a house for a small family, and it began: coordination, search for materials, testing. The foreman was in a hurry because he had already seen himself in retirement. If he didn’t finish something, he simplified it, bought cheap materials, as they could be delivered faster. He felt that he was not doing his best work, but he justified himself by saying that this was the end of his career. Upon completion of construction, he called the owner who inspected the house and said, ” Now this is your house! Take the keys and move in. All documents are already completed. This is a gift from the company for many years of work.” What the foreman experienced was known only to him alone! He was standing red with shame, while everyone around them clapped their hands, congratulated him on his new home and thought that he was blushing with shyness, and he was blushing with shame for his own carelessness. He was aware that all the mistakes and shortcomings were now his problems, and everyone around him thought that he was embarrassed by an expensive gift. And now he had to live in the only house that he built poorly.
Today we are building a house in which we will move in tomorrow. And how your house will be depends only on you.

Like the foreman, we all are involved in our businesses, work, neighbourhood and various other activities that set off a chain reaction. When we don’t resolve to put our heart into our work, actions and words; considering that the outcome will not affect, we would have never been more wrong in our estimation and forecast.

Everything we do matters. Going about our lives as we see fit, if not right may dearly cost us. Whether with passion or disinterest; with desire to excel or with carelessness; with effort or a lazy attitude, in the end what goes around comes around.

We are all in the process of constructing something in life. When we are not happy with what we see or the consequences of what we have been building over the years, its’ time to change before it becomes too late. Time never waits but when it gives us an opportunity for corrective measures, grab it with both hands before that too is taken out of the picture.

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