Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings

Letters to Cherish

“PS, I Love You” the first novel written by Cecelia Ahern, published in 2004 was adapted as a film three years later. The book is based on a married couple Gerry and Holly, deeply in love with occasional fights, yet both are inseparable. When Gerry suddenly dies of a brain tumor, Holly is set adrift in despair and grief, unable to deal with his death and withdrawing from friends and family. One day her mother calls her informing her of a package addressed to her. It held a series of letters Gerry had left for her before he died, containing messages from him, all ending with “P.S. I Love You”. Each new message fills her with encouragement every month and with Gerry’s words as her guide, Holly slowly embarks on a journey of rediscovery.

Both the book and the movie are heart touching, though I preferred the former. Yet the underlying message beyond the fact that time is never predictable is that we should treasure the good moments to always fall back on. Waiting for a warning bell to strike and remind us of how everything can end in a matter of minutes, it is better to string the good memories for our family and friends as we go on our daily lives.

For our friends, once in a while write about what we love about them, the sorrows which they helped us to overcome, the celebrations that they were there for as well as the occasional clashes and better times. When we journal these events, we realize that we have lots to thank them for. Carry this trend into family, for our husband, kids and parents. There is nothing more precious than the written words of care, love and affection that the digital age can’t equalize. Till this day, I hold the letter that my mother and sister wrote to me when I was in college and they bring back fresh memories every time I feel like reading them.

Once a year, write a letter to your child, regaling the funny stories about what had happened to them that year; about the difficulties, mishaps, joys and fun times. Write down your thoughts concerning their future, your memories and emotions as they went about their days, the important events of that year for family and for each one of them. Add on to the letter with photos, postcards, little stick-ons, tiny notes and other memorabilia which would otherwise disappear later. In the end of the letter, don’t forget to tell them that you love them.

After closing the letter, put it in a binder and forget about it. Keep on writing a letter this every year till they reach the age of majority. On the day they reach the official age of adulthood, give them the folder. It will be an invaluable repository of parental love and memory of their childhood. These letters would be with them through joyful as well as difficult moments and trying times. Above all, it will be a reminder that your love will be with them always.

 

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

Fruitful but Maligned

Somethings Never Change.

Returning from the workplace last evening, felt like a scene back from the high school days; with the immense relief felt when escaping the hurtful environment of words, snide comments and remarks, done on the pretext “good-natured” ribbing.

“Some people won’t be happy until they’ve pushed you to the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your power and never give it away.” Donna Schoenrock

Fast forwarding from school days to college and university and then on to the work area, these things still keep happening. Ironically while today often grievous insults and behaviours come to front; in a very large scale, bullying is still been done in a very silent manner. As children, initially when related to parents and teachers; most of the time one is told to take things in stride or to deal with it in a quiet manner. Once when things get out of hand, authorities are involved. Though by then, most damage is done. This same cycle, involving the bully, bully-victim and victim continues on through the lives of the involved.

Breaking this trend is never easy. The first start is through education both at home and school grounds, followed by neighbourhood and community. As children, the streak of cruelty and bullying varies depending on temperament, environment and influence; though school is the place where they exercise it very often. Curbing these tends and making them understand the harm caused is important.

“Words have great power that could make or break others…so please be care with them.” Timothy Pina

Recently one teacher decided to share her experience in a similar situation. Her method was very successful, so she decided to talk about it in one of the social networks; which has been posted below.

“Once, before starting classes, I went to the store and bought two apples. They were almost the same: the same color, about the same size … At the very beginning of the classroom hour I asked the children: “What is the difference between these apples?”. They were silent, because there was not really much difference between the fruits. Then I took one of the apples and, turning to him, said: “I don’t like you! You are a nasty apple! ” After that, I threw the fruit on the floor. The disciples looked at me as if they were crazy. Then I handed the apple to one of them and said: “Find something in it that you don’t like and throw it on the ground too”. The disciple obediently fulfilled the request. After that I asked to transfer the apple further. I must say that children easily found some flaws in the apple: “I don’t like your tail! You have a nasty skin! Yes, there are only worms in you! ”They said, and each time they threw an apple on the ground.
When the fruit came back to me, I again asked if the children saw any difference between this apple and the second one, which all this time was lying on my table. They were again confused, because, despite the fact that we regularly threw an apple on the floor, it did not receive any serious external damage and looked almost the same as the second one. Then I cut both apples. The one that lay on the table was snow-white inside, everyone liked it very much. The children agreed that they would have eaten it with pleasure. But the second was inside brown, covered with bruises, which we set for him. Nobody wanted to eat it. Then I said: “Guys, but this is because we made him that way! This is our fault! ”
In the class there was a deathly silence. A minute later, I continued: “The same happens with people when we insult or call them names. Outwardly, this practically does not affect them, but we inflict a huge amount of internal wounds!” Before my children, nothing ever came so quickly. Everyone began to share their life experiences, how unpleasant they were when they were called names. We all cried one by one, and then laughed together,” the teacher told her story.

“With ignorance comes fear- from fear comes bigotry. Education is the key to acceptance.” Kathleen Patel

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

The Omnipresence of God

Modernization, technology, education and learning have been evolving over the years to the extent that the shades of grey have been frequently increasing, marring the areas of black and white significantly. For the present generation of children, the distinction between right and wrong isn’t easy. Very often they fail to understand what truth, Faith and true values of humanity encompasses. The easiest way to ensure that a child walks on the right path is to make him aware of the ever-loving presence of His Faith and above all, to know that God will guide him to know the difference between the right and the wrong.

“Mom, how to live in order to constantly feel God’s omnipresence? ..” one boy asked his mother,”I did not quite understand this lesson.”

“I will explain it to you this way,” the mother replied, “as I heard myself as a child. Listen! Live, my child, always as if you always see God before you.
Do not do anything that you would not like to have a witness to the Lord.
Do not say anything that you would not say out loud to God.
Do not write anything that you would be ashamed to show God.
Never go wherever you hope to see the Lord.
Do not read such a book, about which you would not want the Lord to ask: “Show me her.”
Never spend your time so that you can be afraid of the question: “What are you doing?” – or the words: “Shame on you!”

( Source: From the book of Archpriest Arseny Tsarevsky “Lessons on the law of God”)

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Quotes, Work

Measure of Intelligence

Being innate hunters and gatherers for the purpose of survival, man doesn’t limit this action to his physical existence alone, but also to enhance his mental, emotional and spiritual thirst for life. From the very beginning, the questions of why, how, when, where and why has always fascinated man. To this purpose, the development of “intelligentia or intellectus” began from a purely scholarly view point to betterment of one’s existence. Fast forwarding to the present day, on the purpose of enhancing one’s intelligence; education, travel as well as acquiring information has been on the achievements list.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. F. Scott Fitzgerald

In fact, many consider an intelligent person is one who reads a lot, received a good education, travelled a lot, knows several languages and bears a lot of facts, data or information. While all this is partly correct, one can have all yet lose sight of humanity. In other words, we can have all the prerequisites of being intelligent and be unintelligent. On the contrary, we can’t have any of the requirements and still be an internally intelligent person.

Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think. Ralph Waldo Emerson

For along the way we have lost sight of the real purpose of “intelligence”. The latter which in turn stems from the verb “intelligere” means to comprehend or perceive. Today both comprehension and perceptions are lost in the acquisition of intelligence.

Intelligence lies is not only in displaying knowledge, but also in the ability to understand others. It manifests itself in a thousand and a thousand trifles: in the ability to argue respectfully, behave modestly at the table, quietly (imperceptibly) help others, not to drop litter around themselves, not to utter hurtful or bad words or rude ideas.

Intelligence is the ability to understand, to perceive, it is a tolerant attitude towards the world and towards people. Dmitry Sergeevich Likhachev

So this begs the final question of whether we are intelligent enough to change for better and before things go from bad to worse. Or should we cling to what our beliefs and ideals were once formed on, even if they are humanely incorrect, egotistic and narrow minded to the point of stifling our relationships with fellow beings and curbing our growth, happiness and inner peace.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. Stephen Hawking

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

View at the Harbor

As a part of the holiday break, as I live pretty close to the sea; we, the entire family, had decided to spend the morning day at the docks and the beach. That was when I had noticed the hustle and bustle going around. Boats were coming and going, some unloading their catch whereas others were simply travelling for the fun with few capturing few seconds of the delights of the water and nature. Amidst all this, few children were playing on the docks with some passerby slipping in their greetings for the regular boats. On the other hand, some boats came quietly and left, with no greeting or exuberant shouts of joy for fellow boats. The resemblance between the activity at the harbour and our lives are pretty striking.

“Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.”
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn

In life we too have our own set of voyages. Yet on these journeys, we come across a number of ships. Some ships are close ones, while some are strangers. There are those who indirectly go with you in life, not really influencing but being present for some reason. There are those who come close to you and change the course of events in history. There are comings and goings. Some will leave a mark in an instant; others even after having been present for years nearby, will not touch the strings of your heart. It is impossible to predict who will stay with you; sometimes close ones let go of your hand on the edge of the abyss and suddenly strangers will hold your outstretched hands and grasp you tight. We can go on the same road, but look in different directions. We can go on different roads but suddenly we stop at an intersection. And no one knows what will happen in a minute, month, year.

“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.” Rainer Maria Rilke. 

By entering into someone else’s life or even barely touching it, we leave in it what will become another beacon on the darkest night for him. Be kind, gracious and sincere. This is neither a weakness nor a vice. This is a force that has no price or boastful pride. Say important words to the people who are dear to you in time, because they are of the greatest value especially when we don’t have a guideline or guarantee of how long they can wait for us, or when will they be called. Everything that is so important to the heart has their own time or expiration date. Every word and dded will last only for so long, to the time allotted or it. We are all strangers in this life, closely or partially intertwined with each other. Each touch to your soul, like yours to someone else’s, leaves a mark in the book of destinies and changes the course of events. Be careful, touch carefully.

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 Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections

A Child of Today

To me there is no picture so beautiful as smiling, bright-eyed, happy children; no music so sweet as their clear and ringing laughter. P. T. Barnum

On the occasion of India celebrating every 14th of November as Children’s Day (celebrated on the day of birth of the first Prime Minister of Independent India and one of the great leaders who dearly loved children, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru ); it would be meaningful if we reflect how our children are faring in the world of today. With the advent of technology, nuclear families, both parents working and the rise of the internet; one often wonders what has happened to the playgrounds, parks and neighbourhood lots where once we used to play in our childhood. Of course, this must be a moot point to ponder with the rise of “modernization, development and smart technology kids”. Though, it leaves room for thought on whether we have lost the genes of physical play (not just the hands or feet) and creative thinking with strategy as well as group interaction. Pretty difficult to decide on it, when all the modern gadgets claim the development of the very same genes.

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

These days, I often dread to read the entire newspaper in the mornings. With the rising rate of crime and delinquency against the children as well as by the children, it brings to shameful light of the neglect and selfishness that we as adults are engaged in. Besides not caring for the young, sometimes we ourselves indulge in acts causing danger to them. To quote the author Pam Leo,”Children are mirrors, they reflect back to us all we say and do.” Have you ever heard of a lioness killing its’ healthy young in their pride or healthy eaglets being killed by their own ? Are we better than the animals or worse ?

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Mathew 18:6 and 10, New International Version) One thing for sure, we have lost the sound of a child’s laugh as they are too caught up in the web of modernized theoretical learning, violence, fear and technology. If we become too late to change this, we are facing with the coming of the dark ages of carbon clones, monotonous, violence with production lines of robotic and mechanical output boxes instead of bright, creative or artistic minds with gentle hearts.

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings. Hodding Carter”

Practical learning starts in the family and community where children learn the basics of humaneness, love, respect, harmony and kindness. As they venture into the portals of education they learn the principles and mechanics of nature, science, art as well as history. While these aspects are important all the same, care should be taken that character is built with love, respect and mutual acceptance as well understanding of humanity. In the process of gaining an education, the ethos of life should not be lost or buried under purely selfish interests. Remember the era of the dinosaurs versus the mammals.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. Billy Graham

So while we watch the next generation growing up, whether we be foster or birth parents, guardians, educators, aunts, uncles, singles or couples; make the difference through families, neighbourhoods as well as communities. No matter how small the attention and care may be for us, for the child it is a big matter. For trees never become big, tall, provide shade or bear fruit unless we understand what they need and take due care of them. For the children learn from us, just by watching us, leave alone words and lectures. For, “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. Charles R. Swindoll” With that, lets hope we as adults change so that our children grow to leave a beautiful legacy for the distant years, though only time shall know.