Posted in Life, Daily, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World, Work

To “Sharpen” Thyself

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” Jimmy Johnson

Working on any difficult task, project or activity, one of the first things said is to make it different or “think outside the box”. While many of us do set the grey cells things and speculate and calculate the various possibilities and outcome; very few engage in the activity of going back and revising or re-training their skills. Consequently very often we fail to improve and work with the regular or even less output.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” William Arthur Ward

The work environment in today’s world revolves around not just the “output” but also being different and innovative. Yet through all this what runs silently through is the “basics”. Unless one takes the effort to sit down and review, revisit and relearn the new and the old; progress would be limited. For it’s the little things that matter the most. What may appear as a “waste of time” may be more time saving of all the options.

“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.” Henry Ford

Whether one is an entrepreneur, baker, artist, structural engineer, theologian, health administrator, stock traders or a poet as the list goes on; unless one learns to sharpen their skill by being willing to learn or re-learn, change for the better mayn’t be the very best shot that one can give. Doing the work with full persistence and effort isn’t just enough; doing it smart with effectiveness and renewing their skills is better, for not only improving the output but also for one’s own self-satisfaction.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abraham Lincoln

The two lumberjacks

It was the annual lumberjack competition and the final was between an older, experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. The rule of the competition was quite simply who could fell the most trees in a day was the winner.
The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the wood and set to work straight away. He worked all through the day and all through the night. As he worked, he could hear the older lumberjack working in another part of the forest and he felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win. At regular intervals throughout the day, the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop. The younger lumberjack took heart from this, knowing that this meant the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to keep going. At the end of the competition, the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won. He looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort.
At the medal ceremony, he stood on the podium confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack. Next to him stood the older lumberjack who looked surprisingly less exhausted than he felt.
When the results were read out, he was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. He turned to the older lumber jack and said: “How can this be? I heard you take a rest every hour and I worked continuously through the night. What’s more, I am stronger and fitter than you old man”.
The older lumberjack turned to him and said: “Every hour, I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw”.

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” Confucius

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

The Spirit Within

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patience to Thy Own

“Patience is when you’re supposed to get mad, but you choose to understand.” Anonymous

At the grocers’ en-route from work, as the shopping was underway, the realization that the long list taped to the refrigerator door was still stuck on there, had raised the annoyance levels. Consequently the shopping was a very quick one and while paying for the bill and for the rest of the journey, the niggling sense that the shopping was incomplete and things were still undone was lingering on. The journey back was disturbing for one’s peace of mind. Later on, while defusing the day’s stress with tea, the fact that one is least patient with one’s own self struck the core thoughts.

“One minute of patience, ten years of peace.” ~ Greek proverb

One of the first subjects is patience towards oneself, although we often tend to lose sight of this fact. By tolerating oneself means that on seeing our own mistakes and shortcomings or failures, one shouldn’t be distraught to an unnecessary extent or be greatly upset or indignant. For all these are signs of pride, leading to one’s own downfall. Instead accept that even oneself is prone to make mistakes. Understanding this requires the patience towards self first. For once we learn to be patient with one’s self, then only will the art of patience with others’ and in our daily lives be the routine norm.

“Have patience, my friend, have patience; For Rome wasn’t built in a day! You wear yourself out for nothing In many and many a way! Why are you nervous and fretty When things do not move along fast; Why let yourself get excited Over things that will soon be past?” – Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, “Patience”

Being human implies that all of us will make mistakes. There are no perfect people in this world. One is prone to stumble and fall, on way or the other. Unless we learn to have patience to correct our steps and put one foot in front of the other, we will never move on or away from our own troubles. Accepting the ignorance of own mind, heart and thoughts; learning to be careful and cautious but having the patience to accept the fact that we have been wrong, will aid us in finding help from His Grace, to rise again and turn the day’s mood from sour to happy. Patience with own help us not only to learn from our mistakes, but also to grow ourselves. If one is not patience with oneself, who else will be patient with us.

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” Victor Hugo

“Patience Is Not the Ability to Wait:
Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.” Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, poetry, Quotes, Reflections, Work

Far from the Blanket

“Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.” Wayne Dyer

One of the benefits of shopping over the weekends is the discount sales that are commonly offered. Yet on closer scrutiny at the price list, our requirements, the discount amount with the manufacturing and expiry dates, at the end of the day; the weekend rush isn’t worth the effort for the offered discount. For the days when we need them, they do help. But when weekends are the only day to recuperate from the busy week, spending some personal time as well as family time may be more worth with the treasures of memories.

“It is with our judgments as with our watches: no two go just alike, yet each believes his own.” Alexander Pope

Comparing this with few situations in our life, many a time we make judgments under the guise of certain notions or thinking. Yet on close scrutiny, one may discover that not everything is as it seems to be. Very often, we tend to put people under an umbrella. Like during school days, the scholarship as well as class toppers were believed to be geeks; yet imagine the surprise when their added talents ranged widely in the field of music, arts and some in sports as well. Similarly at the workplace or the community, when one is busy labeling the others; we lose out not only on their friendship but also the kinship that we would establish once we really get to know them. No one is like the other; neither do all fit under one blanket. When asked about ourselves, this dictum would be what we would prefer others would use to view us; then why not the same for them too. In life, open minds and kind words go a longer way than sudden opinions, quick judgments and hasty impressions.

“In our judgment of human transactions, the law of optics is reversed, we see most dimly the objects which are close around us.” Richard Whately

Not everyone who is punished is guilty.
Not everyone who is acquitted is not guilty.
Not everyone who called himself a brother is a brother.
The unity of souls is not due to blood.

Not everyone is a friend who held a hand,
Not every enemy really hates.
Raised dagger is not so dangerous,
Like a thirst for revenge in the most hidden form.

Not everyone hugging is in love,
And standing on the side is indifferent.
Not everyone is inspired by the bright feeling,
Who flies his ears with flattery.

Not everyone falls under the pattern,
but each created it once.
And he does not suspect that he is the
same for someone “not everyone” ..
– Rus Svyataya

“Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.” Dandemis

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

Cups, Perfection or Happiness

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

As per the recent health surveys, the growing levels of stress are increasing steadily, not only among white collar workers, but also among young adults, adolescents and even at school level. In 2016, an estimate of over 1.1 billion people worldwide ( 1 in 6 or 15-20%) had mental or substance use disorder with around 4 percent of population had anxiety disorder ( Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease study). As per the Cigna 360 Well Being Survey (2018), around 9 in 10 Indians suffer from stress. With all this statistical evidence and data of mental as well physical health correlations, the glaring fact or query is whether happiness or health is defined by the boundaries of pre-defined standardized success or by the quiet inner serenity of “being successful within”.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

One of the reasons why we often sink into the pits in our journey in life, is because we are too busy looking around to notice our own. One becomes too busy in concentrating on how “our coffee cup” is shaped, styled and modeled in comparison to others either by wealth, career, assets or other parameters. Unfortunately in doing so, we fail to enjoy to taste, flavours and pleasure of indulging in the freshly brewed coffee in our own cup. Wouldn’t it be better if we enjoyed our own cup in the short time that we have?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

To attain the happiness in life, doesn’t imply to concentrate only on the cup that we have. Perfection doesn’t define happiness. Rather define what is important to one and find comfort and peace of mind in those. The choice to remain at peace and serene lies within us and our thoughts. Choose to stay calm, happy and content by finding the value and worth in things that really matter to us and our inner peace.

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Aristotle

A Cup and Coffee

A group of highly established alumni got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation among them soon turned into complaints about their stressful work and life. The professor went to his kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups, including porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive and some exquisite. The professor told them to help themselves to the coffee. After all the students had a cup of coffee in their hands, the professor said: “ Did you notice all the nice looking cups are taken and only the plain inexpensive ones are left behind. While it is normal for everyone to want the best for themselves, but that is the source of problems and stress in your life. “ “ The cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most of the cases, it’s just more expensive and hides what we drink.”, the professor continued. “What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but all of you consciously went for good looking expensive cups and then began eyeing on each other’ s cups.”
“Let’s consider that life is the coffee and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position are the cups. The type of cup we have, does not define or change the quality of our lives.”

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Exchange Points: Adolescence to Adulthood

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Neil Gaiman

Last week an unexpected mail had appeared in my inbox from friends of the middle school year. As kids of government employees, transfers were inevitable as a part of resource allocation, promotions and training. Consequently changing school every three to five years was the regular norm. Thus receiving this email had opened the box of memories and moments, considering the fact that middle school was a time when we were all evolving.

“Nothing happens unless something is moved.” Albert Einstein

Looking back, every year of our life as we grow older involves a change. Refreshing the memories as middle-schoolers, life was mostly about assignments, sports, dating and the cultural. Academics had featured a role when relevant. Yet fast forwarding, adult life signifies mostly an exchange. Academics were replaced by work, dating by either relationships, marriage, family and sports or cultural as bucket lists, leisure or recreation. Time became more and more precious. Personal life had taken a back seat once, when career life had started.

“It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.” Nicholas Sparks

Reunions, spontaneous unexpected run-ins with old acquaintances, opening the high school year book or college class book and the like, all bring back memories of the best, worst, embarrassing and nostalgic memories at the different time frames in our lives. The difference lies in how we have progressed, view situations today and has the picture changed for the better or worse. The dreams and hopes as children or adolescents combined with the unbiased and open thinking as well as the willingness to embrace change, mistakes, criticism and appreciation as well; have they been lost or matured to finer aspects.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates (Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior)

While the younger years were marked by learning through self experiences, formation of groups or peer pressure, forging of new bonds and learning to protect one’s self esteem from being shattered as well as trying to fit into the society; adulthood takes on a different turn with the lessons that we have learnt and experiences underwent to prepare us for the journey ahead. Yet the fact remains on whether we have progressed beyond the classroom thinking and contours of “adolescence” for the kindness, maturity and love that adulthood offers or have we accepted the fickle matters of life with all the lights, sound and the glorification as the truth. Only time will know, can tell and foresee.

“That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter.” Rainer Maria Rilke

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

From the Ashes to Hope

“The darkest hours are just before dawn.” English proverb

Of recent times, the town had seen a couple of new start ups’, businesses that have been flourishing over the past three years. Initially they had started small, one had crashed in between and had later had caught on; while few others had stayed steady on from the beginning. Yet what comes to mind on walking down the market road, was how fragile time is and how we must learn to rise up every now and then from the ashes of our efforts, similar to the phoenix.

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” Jonas Salk

 

As per the Greek mythology, the phoenix (Ancient Greek: φοῖνιξ, phoînix) was a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix is believed to die in a show of flames and combustion, although there are other sources that claim that the legendary bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again. Among the different traditions concerning the lifespan of the phoenix, by most accounts the phoenix lived for 500 years before rebirth. Among the old records of Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Pope Clement I, Ovid among others, the retelling and transmission of the phoenix motif has been done in detail. As per these historical records, the phoenix symbolized renewal in general as well as the sun, time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life”. In the Old English Exeter Book,  an anonymous 677-line 9th-century alliterative poem has been written consisting of a paraphrase and abbreviation of Lactantius, followed by an explication of the Phoenix as an allegory for the resurrection of Christ.

Þisses fugles gecynd fela gelices
bi þam gecornum Cristes þegnum;
beacnað in burgum hu hi beorhtne gefean
þurh Fæder fultum on þar frecnan tid
healdaþ under heofonum & him heanna blæd
in þam uplican eðle gestrynaþ. (In the Original Old English)

This bird’s nature is much like
to the chosen servants of Christ;
pointeth out to men how they bright joy
through the Father’s aid in this perilous time
may under heaven possess, and exalted happiness
in the celestial country may gain. (In Modern English translation )

Source:Thorpe, Benjamin; Corson, Hiram (1842). “Codex exoniensis. A collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry, from a manuscript in the library of the dean and chapter of Exeter”. p. 244.

 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

In the various phases of one’s life, we have all our “phoenix” moments, to rise from the ashes of downfall. With the turn from winter to spring, nature teaches us time and again that hope will bear fruit as long as we aim to work for it. With the new crops planted in the last few weeks, one can hardly believe that few months ago it was the time of cold, dry and rainy days of the winters. As the season changes and time moves on, staying stuck lasts only as long as we allow it to be so. Like all plans and dreams that may be fulfilled or go astray; it’s the will to survive that beats the intermittent thunders and storms in one’s life as well as to dust ourselves from the ashes to start rebuilding.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu

 

I will return as grass in spring,
I’ll try to reach you, germinating,
As buds reach forward to the green
When they are waiting to awaken.

To start the blossoming anew
One morning, secretly and shyly,
Already sparkling with the dew,
That dries away if sun is shining.

The sun arises every time
To warm the humid earth for seeding,
It reaches joyously your eyes
But I already do not see it.

It cannot raise my heavy eaves,
My closed eyelids, cannot force them.
And it’s ridiculous to grieve
For me as for a single person.

For I am grass and autumn leaves
That fly and fall to putrefaction,
But there is nothing new in these
Banal ideas and reflections.

It’s the eternal hope and dream –
To be, to stay, at least, as grass does,
To grow through the soil in spring
And join the life, the new one, lasting.

Gennady Shpalikov