There’s just something obvious about emptiness, even when you try to convince yourself otherwise.
-Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key
“That’s the nature of being a parent, Sabine has discovered. You’ll love your children far more than you ever loved your parents, and – in the recognition that your own children cannot fathom the depth of your love – you come to understand the tragic, unrequited love of your own parents.” – Ursula Hegi, Stones from the River
As I was driving Adi back from school, he was trying to get a head start on his quiz prep with heads down (pun?!) pouring over a folder.
We drove over a high bridge.
From that vantage point, the colorful sky and the sun setting was a sight to behold.
I urged him to look up and enjoy the beautiful sight.
He glanced up for a bit and said “Oh…nice”.
Then, he looked down again at the folder.
That signalled the mark of my math based lecture.
Here is what I told him – “We all have a quota. Let us asssume that I live another 4 decades.. then I have approx 15,000 sunsets to behold. Let us asssume you live another 7 decades, then you have approx 25,000 sunsets to behold. Of those, there are going to be many cloudy, dark days of fall and winter. So, the actual days that you are out and about on a beautiful evening and have the chance to see the gorgeous evening sky….will be far less than the 25,000 sunsets number. So, please, enjoy it…while you can.”
I am sure he won’t get it now.
Sooner than later, an evening will arrive, when he is on a lake, mountain or ocean …sunggling beside the person who captured his heart. The sun will be setting. He will behold that evening sky. And, think it the most beautiful thing ever. He won’t want the evening to end.
Do you think he will remember my math based lecture?
This whole parenting thing is so tragic.
I need to exercise self control and stop my stupid long winded lectures. What is it worth? Nothing?
My friend Priya Bala had this witty response to my post:
What is it worth? Nothing.”
Hah! That boy, if he takes after you my dear, will be a player. A more likely scenario will be when both of them are snuggling and he notices the beautiful sky, he’ll remember your math lecture. He’ll assume a far-away look. Then he’ll chuckle gently. She’ll probably ask him what he’s thinking. And he’ll look deep into her eyes and he’ll respond:
“We all have a quota. Let us assume that we live another 6 decades. Then we have approximately 22,000 sunsets to behold. Of those, there are going to be many cloudy, dark days of fall and winter. So, the actual days when we’re out and about on a beautiful evening and have the chance to see the gorgeous evening sky….. will be far less than the 22,000 number. I’m just so glad I get to spend this precious one with you.”
And she’ll sigh and swoon. Mission accomplished!
By Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!
Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
By Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
By Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
By R. Lee Sharpe
Isn’t it strange how princes and kings,
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
and common people, like you and me,
are builders for eternity?
Each is given a list of rules;
a shapeless mass; a bag of tools.
And each must fashion, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block, or a Stepping-Stone.
Hat tip to my friend Dr. Mani who introduced me to the last 2 poems.
Featured Photo: Ramunas Geciauskas (Creative Commons)
Many of you ask me – “Ambal – How do you have so many things to say about every day boring things and occurrences?”
I don’t know quite know how to answer that question. So, let me do a show-and-tell.
Top: #dominantalleles (or something of that sort)
Gets the fix-things-and-help-Amma genes from both sides of the family.
How many boys (and how many hours) does it take to put a tiny writing table together?
See? There is so many things to say about everyday boring things and occurrences.
I can feel it.
I can feel it crawling on me.
When I look back, I think 2017 might stand out as the year…that I started turning cynical.
I kid you not.
Slowly and steadily, my cynic index is growing.
Take for example, yesterday evenings happenings.
Kumar didn’t return home travel until later in the night.
I was holding down the fortress for a couple of days.
Work. Meetings. Deliverables. Kids. Chores. Breakfast. Pick up. Drop off. Carpools. And more.
Rear-ended on Tuesday evening. Back ache due to the impact. Car wouldn’t start on Wednesday morning.
So, yesterday evening. I drive away from our neighborhood for some chores.
It is drizzling.
The road is pitch dark.
Out of nowhere two unleashed dogs run through the road.
One is brown in color. The other one is dark.
I have to pause here.
Let me give you a backstory.
My driving instinct is not something that I learnt in the last 15 years.
The killer instinct on when to run and when to stop…was all fun tuned and became muscle memory from years of boarding overcrowded public buses that wouldn’t stop in the designated stops in my hometown Chennai.
I had to time it all like an Olympic athlete would.
I had to start running when I saw the bus far away.
The bus would keep moving. I had to pick up speed, hop on the bus and bring my body to a full stop.
Can you picture that? Can you picture your body doing that?
It is very hard to understand and appreciate if you have’t done it.
So, starting, speeding up and stopping are all instinctual to me and my body.
So, when I saw the dogs, I braked and didn’t move until I saw the running unleashed dogs pass me by safely.
I am thankful for that. Killing a life form (whatever form it is in) is a crime.
Here is what happened next.
The woman who owned the 2 dogs didn’t seem to care at all.
She didn’t come by and say “Sorry, I should have leashed them. I put you and your kids in risk by my bad choice”.
She didn’t even say “Thanks for saving my dogs by driving safely and braking at the right moment!”.
I truly want to see the goodness in people.
But, between the Mexico theft, the rear-ender fleeing the scene and the thankless dog owner….I think I have just about had it.
I have lost all hope with humanity as of yesterday evening.
It is official. I am a cynic.
Bring it on.