Posted in Personal Musings, Random Thoughts, Stories Around the World, Work

Stance on the Slant

Many of us or may a few, may have experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by an unexpected turn of events. More than the “happy” feelings, there may have been the “feelings of doubt and uncertainty” that reigned high. It’s only in the aftermath, that one realizes that, it was those unexpected turns that brought out the best in us. Or it was the unexpected, that became our saving grace.

“You can’t outwit fate by standing on the sidelines placing little side-bets about the outcome of life. Either you wade in and risk everything you have to play the game or you don’t play at all. and if you don’t play you can’t win.” Judith McNaught

In retrospect, it all comes down to the attitude that we hold within us. The choice lies in either embracing the new, but a strong sense of grit, hope and faith, along with the willingness to take each day as it comes. As we do, one does get the blessing and a chance, to experience some of the best aspects and colours of life.

The point is to embrace these uncertain, unplanned turns and make them into some of the best outcomes. For all this and more, one needs to come out of the sidelines and wade in deep with all the senses in tune and intact. Then the journey will provide new insight into the perceived notions of the old. If so, then the surprise and brightness of the whole new vista awaits each of us.

“A group of prestigious university graduates came to visit their old professor. During the visit the conversation turned to work: graduates were complaining about countless difficulties and problems of life. After offering coffee to his guests, the professor went to the kitchen and came back with a coffee pot and a tray, filled with many different cups: porcelain, glass, plastic and crystalline. Some cups were simple, other ones – expensive.

When the graduates picked out the cups, the professor said:”Notice, how all the beautiful cups were picked out, and the simple and cheap ones were left. And although it seems normal for you – wanting only the best things for yourself, but that is the source of your problems and stress. You need to understand, that the cup doesn’t make the coffee better. Most of the time it’s only more expensive, but sometimes it is hiding what we are drinking. Actually, all that you wanted was only coffee, not the cup. But you consciously picked the best cups, and later watched what kind of cups others got.

And now think: life – is coffee, and job, money, position, society – are the cups. They are only instruments for maintenance and upkeep of life. The type of cup we have, doesn’t determine the quality of our life. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cups, we forget to enjoy the taste of coffee. The happiest people are not those who have the best things, but those who enjoy life and get the most of it with what they have.”

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

Standing Strong

As the downpour continues unabated for more than two days in a row, getting across the lawn to even close the gates at night are a hassle. From hopping between the deep pools to stepping on the stones laid across the path and below the tall branches laden with green leaves breaking down the torrential downpour to drips of rain. Though the skies are mostly laden with gray, the mornings are spent on assessing the visual damage across the fields and lawn. The scene of dead branches and a tree split by lightening, brings about the dark reality of life to surface.

The cycle of life as one may call it. The birth of life and the scene of destruction. Nature has her own way of showing her love, the cycle of balance and the end of an old or on the other hand, fresh beginnings.

All these and the words of Herman Hesse come to mind, on seeing the scene of chaos. Though fast forward a week ahead, the colour of the fresh flowers and the shades of varied bright colours across the fields, show how much beauty and revival is possible, once the mess is cleaned up. Likewise, our lives be so. After every fall, we pick ourselves by self or with help, clean up the mess and move on. Staying in the flow, eventually we will reach the point where the rainbow ends.

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow. Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother. So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.” Herman Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Random Thoughts

Two Back, One Forward

“Roadblocks are nothing new. Going around them is the real issue.”

Words same or almost similar ones often echo in the recesses of the gray cells, especially when faces with those unexpected blocks. Truth to tell, those what we do expect, one can often deal with them. Those that just turn up, out of the blue, are what makes one stumble, often failing to get up soon after the fall.

So what’s next then ?

Procrastinate a bit. It isn’t a crime to do. For a while, getting out of the scene, doing something dissimilar or a remote similarity, gives us the breathing space to regroup and move ahead. For those of us who didn’t need them, well and good. But for the rest of us, sometimes those cups of tea, a swing in the hammock or just a walk around the block, gives us a fresh perspective and gives us back the inner mojo. Soon the roadblock becomes just another phase, and we move on. Don’t rush in, but just breathe. What if another comes along ? Find a way, none out; then breathe, do something else for a change and sooner or later all those roadblocks will change or the new turns open up. All it takes is those little steps, even though they may be few back and one forward. Tick along, we’ll soon be there.

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” Meister Eckhart

The Room of Ancient Keys
by Elena Mikhalkova

Grandma once gave me a tip:

During difficult times,
you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future,
not even what might happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Take off the dust.
Write a letter.
Make some soup.
Do you see?
You are moving forward step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Get some rest.
Compliment yourself.
Take another step.
Then another one.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow
bigger and bigger.
And time will come
when you can think about the future
without crying.
Good morning.

Posted in Family and Society, Personal Musings, poetry

Out of the Cliche

If anyone asks a guardian, what would be one of the biggest drawbacks of the current global scenario, minus the pandemic in itself; among them one would be the absence of schools. The loss is felt more acute, if the child is from the primary classes or below. Though on the other hand, these “online classes” become an eye opener for the guardian or parent as far as the teaching beyond the books is concerned. And yes there are no cliches. If a boy wants to paint, it is fine for te safety of home is there, ad if a little girl wants to build a Lego car, let her do it. The stereotypical boys-cars and girl-dolls to draw, doesn’t really take a place in the freedom of their home. Yet sadly, the camaraderie between their own peers, the social play takes the back-stage.

“A tree stands strong not by its fruits or branches, but by the depth of its roots.” Anthony Liccione

Through all this, both parents and teachers once again realize the what a child should really learn. Though the online learning pressures mount up, one of the saving grace is that it can be done in the child’s own time, despite the hassle of striking the balance between “study screen time” and “fun screen time”. The parental regularity of seeing not just their ward, but all the respective students score charts isn’t a chance occurrence these days. In short the gentle reminder that education is not just in but also of the classroom and beyond the books, is a must for these days.

Whether a spectator, competitor, enthusiast, discoverer or experimenter; as long as any child indulges in their interest, imbibing in a love for learning and interests in and beyond the books, that’s all that matters. Each of us have just one life. To live it true to our own self by the right morals, beyond the projected image of society is a gift and blessing in itself.

Confessions of a Born Spectator

One infant grows up and becomes a jockey,
Another plays basketball or hockey,
This one the prize ring hates to enter
That one becomes a tackle or center,
I am just glad as glad can be
That I am not them, that they are not me.

With all my heart I do admire
Athletes who sweat for fun or hire,
Who take the field in gaudy pomp,
And maim each other as they romp,
My limp and bashful spirit feeds
On other people’s heroic deeds.

Now A runs ninety yards to score,
B knocks the champion to the floor,
Cracking vertebrae and spines,
Lashes his steed across the line,
You’d think my ego it would please
To swap positions with one of these.

Well, ego it might be pleased enough,
But zealous athletes play so rough
They do not ever in their dealings
Consider one another’s feelings.
I’m glad that when my struggle begins
‘Twixt prudence and ego, prudence wins.

When swollen eye meets gnarled fist
When snaps the knee, and cracks the wrist,
When officialdom demands,
Is there a doctor in the stands?
My soul in true thanksgiving speaks
For this modest of physiques.

“Athletes, I’ll drink to you
Or eat with you,
Or anything except compete with you,
Buy tickets worth their radium,
To watch you gambol in the stadium,
And reassure myself anew
That you are not me and I’m not you”.

Ogden Nash

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Photography Art, poetry

Little of All

Somedays one hopes that a switch could be made, that would give on ean option to just change places and get some peace and quiet. No sooner than this thought balzes through the mind, that another one follows that no matter what the present circumstances may be, there are certain things that one would prefer to carry with them wherever they may go.

“The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too” Vincent Van Gogh

Troubles. True they are plenty in number; then again once in a while we do need them to appreciate what we have at hand.

Blessings. We all have a share of them, whether they be in ounces or gallons; they are there in one form or the other; depends on which we look.

Grace. They do exist, maybe coming along to prove their existence when least expected. Then again, they are there; if not one does find them or they chance upon us along the way.

Steps. All it involves putting one foot in front of the other, though direction of those steps involve a matter of choice, effort and the innate conscience within us.

Hope. Look forward to experience the colours along the horizon, then somewhere along our dreams get a spark to give a little light within.

Add a little of all above and more, it would give us a semblance to live through some moments that life takes us through. All of us need a little of the “good and the bad” to let us know that the beast within do have a rhythm and will of their own. When the varied notes come into play, it may be a sonnet, a pop, a song or just a tune. What ever it may be, the music with the dance is our own, so what are we waiting for ?

This is Life
Ken Smith

I saw the glory of the sunrise,
Breathed the invigorating air,
And my soul rose to the very skies
When I sallied forth, proud to dare.
That was the morning.

The awful heat of the day came down;
I stooped, and my brow was wet with sweat.
And when I saw Misfortune frown
I cried, “I am not conquered yet!”
That was the noonday.

The softer shades of twilight fell
And released my grip in the strife.
I am contented now to dwell
Where understanding sweetens life..
This is eventide.

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, poetry, Random Thoughts, Reflections, Work

Hazy, but in Form

The usual say, is that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Sadly no one ever mentions, how to get the going part. In short, where or how does the inspiration for the going strike. For now, the skies offer some comfort.

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.” Nido Qubein

Have you ever seen the shape of clouds ? They flit, they float, they reshape and they transform. The new game was a chance discovery by the kids. From heart shaped to fluffy shaped pillow like, or the wisps that looks like boots, the skies offer a break from the mundane and the lag of the present. The beauty of the endless forms of white scattered across the dusky or bright to dim skies, show one of the endless possibilities of the world.

“Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” Muhammad Ali

While nature has it’s own furies and wrath, the clouds in the skies offer a semblance of comfort in the tough moments. Each time one falls, look to the skies and the answer shall come to the self later. As for the cloudy and rainy days, the skies after may hold the rainbow in the vastness of own.

 

Still I Rise
BY MAYA ANGELOU
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)

Posted in Life, Quotes, Random Thoughts, Reflections

From Fettered, to being Free

Getting a few hours to self, becomes more of a luxury, especially in the past few weeks. Contemplating on the changes brought about in the past few months, makes one wonder even if a sufficient warning was give, would one have ever been prepared for the present scenario.

Schools closed. Offices shifted to “work from home” mode. Sales down. Projects cancelled. Unemployment. Marked pay-cuts. Expenditure going way up above the limit, even though they may be only for essentials. EMIs piling up. Caught in this quagmire, the feeling of being stifled runs high. The tune of the day changes to basic survival.

“It’s not always necessary to be strong, but to feel strong.” Jon Krakauer

As time always proves, one never knows unless we walk in those same shoes. Though survival is what we need to do to overcome the entangled mess, doing it becomes a near impossibility. While there may be few or many to provide words of support and encouragement; unraveling the mess and getting down to basic logistics or “ways and means” is something that one has to do on their own.

Trapped.

Knowing what is important to self helps one to regain the mental and emotional self. To be free one, needs to remember sometimes the things that trap us are our own thoughts, doubts and insecurities. Being human, one tends to over-think, draw irrelevant and unnecessary conclusions, adding more fuel to the fire. Things mayn’t be as complicated, once we try to do something genuine about the situation. Realizing this and learning to overcome them, helps one to see the rays of light through the jumble of twines.

“Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” Mandy Hale

Whether one moves in tandem or no, the wheel of life and time goes on and on. With all their hidden or evident “trials and traps”, surviving them simply involves one to believe that they can. Forget the improbability of logistics or reality of possibilities; prioritize, decide, refuel, use own resources at hand and just go ahead. Somewhere along the way, the mental strength will come back and one learns to escape from the trap. As taught by life every now and then, value is best appreciated when one escapes from the snares.