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.

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

Love the Dandelions

“I was a dandelion puff…Some saw the beauty in me and stooped quietly to admire my innocence. Others saw the potential of what I could do for them, so they uprooted me, seeking to shape me around their needs. They blew at my head, scattering my hair from the roots, changing me to suit them. Yet still others saw me as something that was unworthy and needed to be erased.” Nicole Bailey-Williams

A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still they plagued him. Finally he wrote to the Department of Agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “What shall I do now?” In due course, the reply came: “We suggest you learn to love them.” ( adapted from Anthony de Mello’s The Song of the Bird)

We all have our own set of “dandelions” like a difficult boss, hectic work load, nosy neighbours, gossipy community member who we encounter on a daily basis, a disorderly household or even the unruly hair that refuses to settle down; the list is endless. While we would be able to change few of them them, the others would be in the category that we can’t change despite countless efforts, manoeuvres and attempts. What we can’t change, we shouldn’t fight. When we learn to accept and find a way to work around our “dandelions”, we achieve happiness in all the other good parts of life. There is a whole wide green lawn out there, yet only when we kick off our shoes, step into the green blades (scattered with the dandelions or not), we learn to enjoy the sense of beauty that nature offers us.

“Dandelions, like all things in nature are beautiful when you take the time to pay attention to them.” June Stoyer

In our lives, at work, in the neighbourhood and community and even among our extended families; there would be “dandelions” cropping every now and then. Yet these “dandelions” have their own beauty. As seen through nature and in various places, dandelions are not always considered as weeds. From being a medicinal herb to being cultivated as a crop for dandelion wine or tea, their uses vary on occasion, place, purpose and requirement. Likewise, when we learn to enjoy every “dandelion”, their beauty and abilities will be appreciated. Remember the fun memories with dandelions in our childhood. Be like a child with the “dandelions” we find in our life, curl the stems in water, blow out the seeds, paint them and above all, make cherished memories having fun.

“Dandelions are just friendly little weeds who only want to be loved like flowers.” Heather Babcock

Posted in Christian, Life, Quotes, Stories Around the World

Curious not Judgemental

An elderly man with a 25-year-old son entered the train car and took their seats. The young man sat by the window. As soon as the train started moving, he put his hand out the window to feel the flow of air and suddenly shouted in admiration: “Dad, you see, all the trees are coming back!” The older man smiled back. Next to the young man was a married couple. They were a bit confused by the fact that a 25-year-old man behaves like a little child. Suddenly young man again shouted in delight: “Dad, you see the lake and the animals … The clouds go with the train!”  The couple shyly watched the strange behavior of a young man, in which his father did not seem to find anything strange. It began to rain, and raindrops touched the young man’s hand. He again became overwhelmed with joy and closed his eyes. And then he shouted: “Dad, it’s raining, the water touches me! See, Dad ?” Wanting to help with something, the couple sitting next to her asked the elderly man:“ Why won’t you take your son to some clinic for a consultation?” An elderly man replied: “We have just come from the clinic. Today, my son, for the first time in his life, has acquired his sight … ”

It is impossible to judge the affairs and actions of other people without having all the knowledge. Only God possesses the fullness of knowledge. Therefore, “Judge not, that ye be not judged!”

This is an interesting post that I had come across my social pages, although I am not sure about the original author or source. What set me thinking was that, n scenarios similar to the above, was there a better way to frame the question to allay the curiosity. For instance, a more polite way of asking would be, “Isn’t this journey interesting ?” or state “Your son loves train journeys.” If then the father is willing to open up and talk, then it would be fine. Even if that doesn’t happen, by keen observation one can deduce a number of things from any situation.

“Be curious, not judgemental.” Walt Whitman

There is a fine line between curiosity and being judgemental. The latter refers to holding an opinion; decide upon critically; to infer, think or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess or to act like a judge; passing verbal or mental comments with or without assessing the situation in totality. No one can know about the other, unless each one decides to share their story. For that to happen, we would be able to hear others, once we keep quiet, stop thinking or supposing and listen to their entire narrative.

“If we had no faults of our own, we should not take so much pleasure in noticing those in others and judging their lives as either black or white, good or bad. We all live our lives in shades of gray.”- Shannon L.Alder

As we go about the day, take care to be curious but not assign any opinion, label or be prejudiced in our behaviour without viewing the entire picture. Each time we weigh other in the mental scale, think twice before we start the process. Only when we are weighed in the scale do we realize how much our worth actually weighs against the lives that we lead.

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World

Aftermath of Ripples

Everybody talks about wanting to change things and help and fix, but ultimately all you can do is fix yourself. And that’s a lot. Because if you can fix yourself, it has a ripple effect. Rob Reiner

Two men were out on the water in a boat. One of them began drilling in the bottom of the boat, and the other, aghast said “What are you doing? Stop drilling!”. And the first man replied: “It’s all right. I’m only drilling on my side.”

Whether it’s your side or my side, the drilling of the hole affects all the travelers in the boat. This was a forward I had recently received from a friend. There are other versions similar to the above tale, although I believe this was adapted from the parable in the Jewish Midrash Rabbah. The message underlying is that the action of one person whether intentional or not, will affect those around him, either directly or indirectly.

Like the ripples caused by a stone in water, one leads to another till the action wears off. In real life, the ripples caused can have drastic impact, of the good kind and of the dangerous type. An accident, sudden death or harsh words can offset a chain of events that haven’t been predicted or foreseen. While some call it fate, not all events can be grouped under that umbrella. The consequence of our actions at time can be unfathomable. Drunk driving, hit-and-run, speeding, unsupervised work at construction sites are few instances that remind us that our actions impact everyone, not just us.

“Our personal ripple effect is the power of one generating hope and change in others for a better world. Like ripples radiating across the surface of a pond when a pebble is tossed in, kindness is powerful and has far-reaching, positive ramifications that bring about a tremendous sense of joy.” Laurie Buchanan

While we do good, others do benefit and same with the bad. When we try not to cause harm to others by keeping our selfish interests under check, it makes the world a better place to live. In case we forget this important fact, remember very often what goes around comes around as well. After all time doesn’t discriminate.

While it may seem small, the ripple effects of small things is extraordinary. Matt Bevin

Posted in Daily, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World

What Goes A Long Way

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners. Laurence Sterne”

Respect. Courtesy. Consideration. Manners.

What maybe a simple “Good morning” or “Hello” from our side may have made someone else’s day or even changed their perspective when they were in the dark. Yet that innocent and courteous greeting can go a long way, helping us when we least expect it. While respect mayn’t always be necessary to be returned in kind there and then; it can brighten the day both for us and for the addressee. No matter how busy the day might be or how close the deadlines are looming and how hectic the schedule may be, always take the time to treat others with due regard and courtesy.

“We learned about gratitude and humility – that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean… and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect. Michelle Obama”

This is a story that I had read through my social media pages which struck a chord. Although I don’t know if it’s true, the message conveyed is worth the effort and time to browse through it.

The woman worked at the meat factory. One day, at the end of her working day, she went into the freezer to check something, but the door accidentally closed – and the woman was locked from the inside.
The woman screamed and knocked with all her might — it was all to no avail — no one could hear her. Most of the workers have already left, and outside the freezer it is impossible to hear what is happening inside. Five hours later, when death seemed inevitable, the factory guard opened the door — and the woman miraculously escaped that day from death. Later, the woman asked the guard why he decided to check the freezer that day, because it was not his responsibility. The guard replied: “I have been working at this factory for 35 years, hundreds of people come and leave every day, but you are one of the few who greeted me in the morning and said goodbye at the end of the working day. Many relate to me, as if I am invisible … Today, passing by me, you, as always, told me “Hello”. But after work, I noted with curiosity that I did not hear your “so long, see you tomorrow,” and I did not see you leaving the factory’s territory. So I decided to check around the factory. I’m so used to your “hello” and “bye” every day, because they remind me that I need someone. Not hearing your farewell today, I realized that something had happened. That is why I have been looking for you everywhere. ” 

Be humble, love and respect those around you. After all, we never know what will happen tomorrow.

 

Posted in Family and Society, Photography Art, poetry, Reflections

Trap of the Spider

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to show when you are there.”

For those of us who haven’t heard of or read these lines before, these are the opening lines of “The Spider and the Fly” is a poem by Mary Howitt. The poem weaves the tale of the cunning Spider who ensnares the naïve Fly through the use of seduction and flattery. Primarily this poem serves a cautionary tale against those disguise their true purpose and their evil intentions with a heavy dose of flattery and charm.

Why did these lines suddenly surface to memory? Because beyond flattery and charm, these words stipulate of a false offer of help or friendship that is in fact a trap. We meet many kinds of people in our daily walks of life especially at work, at college or university, in schools, soccer practices, local neighbourhood and even at our regular diners, parlours, gym and the market. Some of these passing acquaintances become good friends while others are like ships at the harbour, they dock, load and unload, then leave. Yet in all these interactions, there will be some offers of help which we accept based either on recommendations, favours or past dealings. On the other hand, a great deal of charm and flattery which acts as false balm to the soul wins. Eventually these end up as a trap causing a great deal of harm.

It is in these situations that I am reminded of the scene between the spider and the fly. In real life, to avoid the trap these situations have to be dealt with a great deal of tact and flair. But first, to avoid the trap, trust your gut. The inner voice inside our head, the warning bells in our mind or the queasy uneasy feeling all remind us to watch our back. From then on, it’s a matter of tact and careful untangling of ourselves from the sticky web. Although it looks difficult, there will always be a way out as long as we follow the direction of the light.