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

Amidst the “Dark Clouds”

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” Rabindranath Tagore

With summer skies slowly fading away to the rains, the time for quiet reflections indoors when “the pitter-patter” of rain starts outside. Add to it the melee of children and keeping them occupied indoors is no easy task. With the rains on full swing, the childhood memories of making paper boats, splashing into puddles, getting wet as well as schools getting cancelled due to the downpour were the routine that comes to mind.

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

Fast forward to the present day, for the “adult” rains bring forth an inner dread. Although the smell of fresh earth haunts the adult mind and memories, it is buried under the hassles of getting to work on time, the commute and the traffic, the dirty marks on the kitchen floors, clothes perpetually wet and children mud stained; rains although are necessary for the fields and crops, the adult mind prays only for a healthy dose for a short time. What the “adult” fails to realise is that, perspectives do matter. Rains can be made a hassle or as fun depending on how one blends it into one’s framework of mind.

“Into each life some rain must fall.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For happiness to be squelched, there are innumerable things. On the other hand, in the same scenario and same situation, change of one’s attitude, approach and perspective makes all the difference in finding happiness, losing the stress and being at peace. One needs a bit of everything in life to enjoy, a bit of rain and summer skies, a little of cold winds and snow as well as the essence of spring time air. Same is the case with joys, sorrows, happiness, failures and success. Staying on the same page, time frame or waves of success brings no challenge or sense of accomplishment and contentment in the day. To find the happiness; experiences of joys, fear, trouble, success, sorrows, kindness, love as well as failure help us appreciate the good and best things that life, time and memories wash up onto our shores.

“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” Ashley Smith

There is the silly elation,
The garden the windows look on!
Soundless sunset reflection
Swims in the pool, like a swan.

Greetings, golden serenity,
Shadows of trees, black as tar!
Crows on the roof, in sincerity,
Hold vespers in praise of the star.

Timidly over the garden
Where the guelder- rose springs,
A girl in a snow white garment
A beautiful melody sings.

Like a blue gown
Cold from the meadow sweeps …
Happiness, sweet silly feeling!
Virginal blush of the cheeks!

Sergey Yesenin (1918)

“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” Joseph B. Wirthlin

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

Navigate From Within

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” Jawaharlal Nehru

One of the advantages of chance meetings with old friends, colleagues or neighbours when one has time on their hands, is the quick catch up session followed by exchange of news as well contact details. In that short time, information is passed about common acquaintances who have moved on, made changes or are still there. For those who have done better, we often compare ourselves to them. For those who have done worse, we acknowledge that their life has taken a different turn and at times, blame fate. What we almost always fail to realize is that, commenting about others progress (whether one wants to or not) never really makes a difference, for each holds their own destiny in their hand.

“Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny.” Kin Hubbard

Destiny, has been one of the concepts that man prefers to fall back on, when things never go the way planned. Post any setback, the reactions range from blame those around one to the sequence of events, circumstances and so on and so forth; everything but the person alone. The drawback of such a cycle, is that, once started it is difficult to break it. Moreover, the tendency to always indulge in the cycle of acts persists.

“Everywhere man blames nature and fate, yet his fate is mostly but the echo of his character and passions, his mistakes and weaknesses.” Democritus

Another way that man deals with setbacks is to hire “services” that offer to point out the right time as per mathematical, astrological, zodiac or other elemental methods of calculation. Little does one realize, that plans, setbacks, success and failure all lies within one person, their reaction to sequence of events in relation to their plans, dreams and hopes in life. Destiny, success, hard work, plans, hope and achievement all starts within. One decides wisely for oneself; knowing their own limitations, merits and lapses.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

To face destiny and achieve success requires one to introspective, willing to learn and observe from own as well as others’ lives. By blinding the eyes of the mind, the path taken will always be wrought with weeds of trouble, failures and uncertainties. To stay strong, one has to believe that they can navigate, as long as one knows how, where and what to look for. Man always has the discernment to make plans and tune destiny to work in one’s favour, provided one always believes in themselves, knows oneself with flaws, strength and all.

“If we would see the color of our future, we must look for it in our present; if we would gaze on the star of our destiny, we must look for it in our hearts.”
Canon Farra

The Warrior’s Destiny

A great Japanese warrior named Nobunaga was going to war with a fierce enemy with only one-tenth the number of men the opposition commanded. He knew that he could win the fight with a well planned strategy, but his soldiers were in doubt. On the way the leader stopped at a Shinto shrine and told his men: “After my visit to the shrine I will toss a coin. If the head comes, we will win; if tails, we will lose. Destiny holds us in her hand.” Nobunaga entered the shrine and offered his prayers. Then he came forth and tossed a coin in front of his men. Heads appeared. The soldiers were filled with confident and were eager to win the battle.
“No one can change the hand of destiny,” one of his attendants told him after the battle.
“Indeed not,” said Nobunaga and showed the coin which was doubled with heads on the both side.

“ Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” William Jennings Bryan

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

 

Posted in Life, Quotes, Reflections, Work

Courage for Today

“First, in feelings of fear and confidence the mean is bravery (andreia).The excessively fearless person is nameless…while the one who is excessively confident is rash; the one who is excessively afraid and deficient in confidence is cowardly.”-Aristotle  (Source: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics)

The progress and changes that man has seen, witnessed or underwent is the culmination of events that have taken place when one has decided to act on their thinking, feeling and emotions. In the course, choices have to be made between the right and the wrong, to conquer fears and pains to reach the intended goal.

“Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. Have the courage to act instead of react.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes

The decision or the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation can be termed as courage, bravery or valour. Yet true forms of courage can be physical or mental. While the former is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death; moral courage encompasses the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement or personal loss. Add perseverance and patience to courage; then courage becomes fortitude.

“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, Stanford commencement speech, June 2005

For the world today, courage is needed not just for achieving records, dashing car rides, conquest of mountain peaks, quests to discover new places or attempting new events and the like. While they do require us stepping outside our comfort zone; there are many more instances where we have to put on the cloak of courage knowingly or unknowingly.

“Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory in itself.” N.D. Wilson, Dandelion Fire

Courage entails the process of acting despite the gnawing fear. Courage helps us to follow our hearts and persevere in the face of adversity. Courage helps us to endure suffering with the hope to renew our struggle for the brighter tomorrow.

“There is no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bear witness that a man has the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” Frank

Man will need immense courage to follow his dreams, faith and strive hard in the face of constant criticism, opposition and doubts. He will need courage to raise children, stay as family, grow trees and build a house. Today he will need courage to do the simple and necessary things in the right manner than for bright lights, glory and fame.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” Mary Anne Radmacher

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 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.