Faith amidst the storm

The world has fallen silent, humans are confined indoors, animals are reclaiming their planet and Mother Earth is healing. Despite all our knowledge, technology, wealth, power and pride, all it took was a tiny bug to throw a spoke in our wheel of life. And with that, life has come to an abrupt halt.

This has caused major life changes that threaten to sweep us off our feet. Some of us experience anger, anxiety, despair, fear, frustration, irritation, loneliness or panic, which can drive us and our loved ones crazy in an already tough situation. While it’s natural to experience these emotions, we need not let them control us – so let’s pause a while to reflect, put things in perspective and try to adapt – one step at a time.

Acceptance

  • Let’s firstly accept that life as we know it has changed, not just for us but for the entire world. All of humanity, otherwise divided by a host of differences, is today on a level playing field.
  • It’s like we have all been cast into an unknown stormy sea where none of us know to swim and we are all thrashing about trying to stay afloat. Since we have no option but to ride out the storm, we might as well do it sensibly and make the most of the process.

Feed your Faith, not your fears

  • Yes at times the water seems menacing and the shore seems nowhere in sight. With no chance to prepare beforehand, this plunge has taken us all by surprise and some of us are still trying to catch our breath.
  • We can tide over this without letting fear overwhelm us by staying calm and keeping our faith in the Almighty intact. We need to believe that no matter what, He is with us always and He has a purpose.

Try altering your perception

  • Availability of excess free time currently is in fact the quality time for self and family that we were seeking since years.
  • Lack of entertainment options outside can lead to (re)discovering skills and talents within the family.
  • No access to outside food could be the perfect opportunity to rekindle the appetite for home cooked healthy meals.
  • Managing with whatever is available is a wonderful exercise in inculcating a minimalist lifestyle.
  • The absence of domestic help can be channelized into division of duties, respect for household chores and much needed physical workout.

The struggle ends when gratitude begins

  • Each time we grumble about being stuck within the walls of our home, let’s think about the ones who have no roof over their head, those who are stuck at airports, separated from their families and away from their homes.
  • The incessant times we need to wash our hands might annoy us, however let’s be grateful for the availability of water and think about those who struggle for it on a daily basis.
  • Whenever it’s challenging to get children to do their home assignments, let’s spare a thought for the teachers who work so hard all year round to educate our children.   
  • Whenever we feel the authorities are being unfair, let’s breathe a prayer for the brave hearts in the front-line executing their responsibilities selflessly for our sake.

Awareness

  • It’s good to keep abreast of latest updates however we must do so with discretion. Not everything we read is true so let’s think twice before we believe or share anything. Only spread (verified) messages that will help, guide, uplift, motivate and inspire others.
  • Let’s be grateful for the availability of social media and use it prudently to connect with loved ones, to educate ourselves and our children, to seek help if required, to pursue a hobby and to spend time fruitfully.
  • With gratitude and awareness comes compassion – Let’s do our bit to help people around us who may not be physically able, emotionally resilient or technically adept at managing on their own.

Hold on to hope and never let go

  • Remember that we are all in this together, yes socially distant but together in spirit – Never before has the world come together as one.
  • This could just be the period of healing which Mother Earth and each of us needed desperately to bring about an inner transformation.
  • We can utilize this time either to reflect on our values and reset our priorities & life goals or to just float aimlessly along till we reach the shore.
  • We didn’t have a choice about our current circumstances, but we do have a choice about how we respond; hence, let’s choose wisely.

No matter how difficult, let’s be patient and keep the faith – the most amazing things in life happen right when we’re about to give up hope.

When life comes to a standstill

There is undeniably an information explosion on the current crisis that has encompassed the entire world. We have an outpouring of conflicting news, views, reports, facts & figures, health tips, warnings, conjectures, gossip and jokes which can overwhelm the calmest person on earth. It has shaken the very core of our being and forced us to question our basic existence.

Amidst all this mayhem, today we celebrate the International Day of Happiness. Happiness – really?

Yes happiness. It’s said that “The real value of anything is realized only after losing it.” So there couldn’t be a better time than today to seek and find happiness – just when the world requires it the most.

In the onslaught of unnerving information, let’s not miss out the messages streaming in that bring a glimmer of love, hope and happiness to the ailing world.

Let us see how:

  • Differences of caste, creed, colour, religion, wealth and borders have crumbled and the world has come together to combat this common enemy that threatens our survival.
  • Humans who ruled the world for their selfish desires have been brought down on their knees seeking out the Almighty.
  • Pride in material possessions has been subjugated and replaced with care, compassion and concern for each other.
  • Medical personnel have emerged as the true heroes who are tirelessly serving the infirm and going way beyond the call of duty.
  • Despite all our technological innovations, we have been taken back to our roots and reminded of the significance of basic health and hygiene as well as traditional practices like the Namaste.
  • People who previously never even knew their neighbours now serenade each other from their balconies as one big family.
  • Places we depend on for our pleasure and entertainment have shut down and we are all within the confines of our home, spending precious time with the ones who actually and truly matter – our family.
  • Mother Earth has finally got an opportunity to breathe easy and heal from the insurmountable pain she has endured over the years.

It has taken a minuscule entity to bring the world to a grinding halt and to remind us to slow down our pace of living, and take the time to reflect, to introspect, to re-prioritize our choices and to live one day at a time with love. Despite the dark clouds that loom over us today, let’s be strong and strive to seek out the silver lining, hold on to hope and believe in our faith. That will undoubtedly lead us to the love and happiness that ultimately lies within each one of us.

Note: Inspired by the Daily reflections shared by Aneel Aranha, HSIThank you!

When life gives you lemons …

Life has amazing lessons to teach us, if only we are willing to learn. And at times we learn these lessons in the most unexpected places …

Few days back, at the end of a long tiring day, I stopped to find a rickshaw to get back home. After several unsuccessful attempts, I managed to get a nod, along with a smile (which is a rarity in Mumbai!) from one driver and I got into the rick gratefully. I settled in quickly and mentally started compiling my list of things to do after getting back home.

“Do you speak English ma’am?” politely asked the elderly driver, in a voice with a surprisingly clear accent, which shook me out of my thoughts. Though I was taken aback at his simple unassuming persona, I smiled and replied in the affirmative. He then began to talk about his life journey and his quest to master the English language. His conversation was interspersed with English sentences that he spoke pretty fluently. I was astonished at some of the vocabulary he used so accurately and confidently – truly, appearances can be so deceptive.

He shared how he had nurtured big dreams during childhood, which he unfortunately couldn’t fulfill due to family financial constraints. But that didn’t deter his resolve to learn or his thirst for knowledge. Whenever he had spare time between dropping off passengers, he opened his little notebook and revised his notes instead of indulging in idle talk with others. He also explored the internet for latest audio-videos to help him improve his fluency. He mentioned that along with attempting to imbibe the nuances of the English language, he was simultaneously learning Spanish, German and a couple of more languages.  

To say that I was amazed would be an understatement. Respecting his indomitable spirit, I conversed with him entirely in English and he happily replied; albeit hesitantly wherever he wasn’t sure how to phrase it, however he never once gave up. I was so mesmerized by this unique experience that I didn’t even realize when I arrived at my building gate. I was disappointed that the journey had ended, but grateful to have had the privilege of meeting someone so modest yet so inspiring.

Reflecting on this brief encounter, I realized that his life truly embodied these oft-quoted life lessons …

  • It’s never too late to make a start
  • Make the most of what you have
  • If there is a will, there will always be a way
  • Education may cease, but knowledge has no end
  • Life is defined by the choices we make – choose wisely

Often when life doesn’t turn out the way we planned or dreamed it would, we make excuses, give up and go along with the flow, accepting whatever life serves us. After meeting him I was reminded that when life gives you lemons, do make lemonade, but at the same time don’t give up on seeking out the orange juice you originally aspired for – Cheers!

My dimple darling daughter

That’s what I was to my beloved Dad, my hero.

Both my cheeks crinkle into dimples whenever I smile and Dad chose to highlight that one unique feature to endearingly address me. And each time he said it, I smiled all the more …

When my elder sister and I were growing up, Dad was away working abroad, and kept in touch through his regular letters. We waited impatiently for the postman to arrive and deliver the precious letters; it was like a lifeline for Mom and us. In all his correspondence, he made sure there was always a little note for me and every letter began with the same adorable title, which made me giggle with delight. And in my reply, I always signed off using the same and this continued letter after letter, creating a treasured memory.

My sister and I imbibed strong values, etiquettes and spirituality from both our parents, which always held us in good stead in life. But the biggest gift we received from Dad was his passion for reading and love for the English language. Watching him read newspapers and magazines from cover to cover, I began to read voraciously and devoured books hungrily. Every new word I came across was like a jigsaw puzzle, which until solved would leave me restless. Dad always kept meticulous notes, letters and minutes of the meeting for the society and also maintained impeccable accounts. With an eye for detail, he was thorough and organized in everything he did, and watching him intently, we emulated the same. These qualities empowered both of us to lead a life of discipline and purpose.

Dad was a strong willed person who never minced his words and always spoke his mind, no matter what. He loved his wife, and both his daughters were his pride and joy – he left no stone unturned to ensure our happiness. I know some of the choices I made in life were not exactly to his liking; nevertheless, he made peace with them just to see me happy, for which I will always be grateful. Later on in life, he took on the role of being a doting grandfather to two grandchildren who looked up to him.

For a man who loved to read, slow loss of his eyesight left him feeling helpless and incomplete. As age advanced, his memory and his sense of hearing also began failing him and he began to go into a shell, living in his own little world. Soon he could no longer recall names or dates and could not even express his basic needs or emotions. It was at this difficult time that my Mom, my sister and my brother-in-law took loving care of him and patiently tended to his every need, for which they will always be richly blessed. Residing in another city restricted my efforts in this endeavor – this will always remain a regret in my life.

Towards the end, as Dad lay unconscious in hospital, I held his hand and fervently prayed that he would somehow know that I was there, his dimple darling daughter. And yes, my soul indeed felt that he could sense my presence and he knew I was there. My sister and I were with him as he then slowly left us for his heavenly abode, out of all his pain which he could not even express – end of a life well lived … finally at peace.

As they say, “Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a Dad.” It is 3 months today since you left us Dad. You left us physically, but we know that you are watching over us and that your love and blessings continue to guide and protect us. And each time I look at myself smiling, I can’t help but smile all the more, remembering what you would say to me…

We love you Dad! Thank you for everything. May you rest in eternal peace with the Almighty.

I believe that ..

Many a time in life, I have come across a message, a quotation or a story that somehow struck a chord within and connected deeply with my soul. It spoke to me, gave me a sense of direction and provided the clarity I was looking for.

I encounter these just when I need them the most – when I am at crossroads, during moments of chaos and confusion, on the verge of making a difficult choice or decision, at times of dejection or just those phases when my spirit needs a positive boost. These are also times when mind and heart seem to be at war with each other.

Motivational books and articles do impart a lot of inspiration. However, the sort of insight I am referring to is what touches us when we least expect it, just about anyhow anytime anywhere. It can be through an unexpected note from an old acquaintance, a casual chat with a stranger, a brief glance at a headline, a verse from a song, a slogan on a passing vehicle, an old forgotten greeting card lying in some drawer or perhaps just a fleeting thought.

I believe that it is through these means that the Almighty reaches out to answer a prayer, to make a connection or to provide a new perspective just when we require it. Once that happens, the confusion departs, the choice is crystal clear, the decision to make is simple and the situation no longer seems impossible. It is so crucial to decipher these precious timely messages and interpret them accurately, as they can often be life altering. And you know what? They will also somehow restore peace and harmony between mind and heart and you feel balanced again.

So believe, keep the faith and wait – you will get your answer.

If and but to Happiness

…If only I complete my education, I will be happy

If only my health improves, I will be happy

If only I get some more money, I will be happy

If only I can reach that goal, I will be happy …

I wonder why our definition of happiness is always elusive

So near yet so far, always separated by some ‘if’ or ‘but’

A dream that we are always chasing

No matter how fast we run, we can never fulfill or achieve…

… If only we learn to find our happiness in the here and the now

In truly living in the present and feeling every experience

In understanding how life in itself is a wonderful miracle

In stringing together each precious moment into a beautiful necklace of memories

…If only we stop to think how blessed we are

If only we train our hearts and minds to see the positive within the negative

If only we learn to be grateful in every circumstance

We will realize that happiness is not elusive but lies within each of us … we only need to reach out and feel it and then spread it around

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