TO BE REMEMBERED OR NOT TO BE

There are approximately 360,000 babies born per day and 15,000 births per hour worldwide. That is more than twice the number of people who die each day – meaning 180,000 people die each day, approximately. That’s statistics!

But to each family, a birth or a death is an event to remember. And when the one who is born accomplishes some remarkable feat, the world remembers him/her for years together.

History engraves the likes of Einstein, Edison, Newton, Marx, Graham Bell, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther, Maradona, Pele in its glorious pages. We also have the likes of Osama bin Laden, Fidel Castro, Hitler, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and such others enshrined in the annals of history.

Think of the doorkeeper at your office – would you remember him several years after you quit your job? Umm . . . may be or may be not . . . not unless there is something significant about him or you’ve had some interesting conversation or a really nasty altercation with him! Isn’t it?

To etch ourselves in the memories of others, we need to be significant or do something of significance. Or at least, that’s how the common perception goes.

As I fast forward a few years of my life and then look backwards, to observe whether or not the footprints that I have made along the shores of my earthly life have withstood the tests of time, what do I see?

A portion of the Bible comes to my mind, which deals with this very issue. It is an allegory of a building that has been built on a strong foundation.To paraphrase it in my words –

Each one should build with care. If anyone builds on the foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is. Fire tests the quality of each person’s work. After the work goes through fire if what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss . . . but may himself survive the flames.

Do I want my works to be razed to the ground and relegate into oblivion? Or do I want my works to withstand the tempests of time and gaze loftily heavenwards?

What do I want to leave behind?

This life of mine has been soaked by the immense love of my Saviour, to whom I owe my every breath. His grace abounds in my life. Having no goodness in me whatsoever, I bask in His love and grace each day each moment.

In this life, I attempt to showcase this love and grace towards my fellowmen to the little extent doable by me. In a world largely bereft of love, I strive to awaken the love chords in human hearts. In times of vastly degrading values, I seek to make each precious one aware of the rich values that they are endowed with. Where each one competes to win the race shoving the others aside, I attempt to pick the fallen ones up and enthuse into them the zest to rise up and run again. To put my arm around those who long for an embrace and to give a reason to smile to those whose faces are streaked with dried tears – that is what I strive to do each passing day.

These are easier said that done. At times, I think to myself – why do people have difficulty in understanding love? Why do people have difficulty in accepting grace? These virtues of love and grace don’t cost anything in tangible terms . . . in fact, the world is hungry for love. Somehow, there is an unseen barrier that prevents people from exhibiting these qualities of the head and heart and also from responding to them.  

Whether or not I am remembered for these, I may not be there to see. How far I can do justice to these deeds of mine, I do not know. I may not reach the heights of the great ‘who’s whos’ of the world and get my name etched in golden letters or be eligible for a wax statue at Madame Tussauds. But, the impact it would cast on a few precious lives will far outweigh the remembrances and accolades.

William Wordsworth pens his famous lines in the poem ‘Lines written a Few miles above Tintern Abbey’ –                                                 

His little, nameless, unremembered acts 

Of kindness and of love. 


Such little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love are what I would strive to cast on the sands of time in the course of journey along life’s shores.
 

 

 

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A WARM HEART THAT I WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND

Last year when I turned forty I thought and felt old and wise. But then life took such a huge turn in the last one year. Now that I am nearing my forty first birthday I have come to realize that there is a lot that the universe still has to teach me. So then what is the legacy I want to leave behind? I am still learning. I don’t think I have  reached a point where I would be able to inspire others. 

At times I am so unsure about myself. I don’t know what I am doing is right or not. I am not sure whether I have been able to identify the true purpose of my life or not. So again back to the question what will be my legacy. Am I equipped to answer this question?😯

But on second thoughts I realized that the stage will never come when I will feel that now I have accomplished everything in my life and I have a solid legacy to leave behind…. I am sure many successful people will agree with me.

Life they say is unpredictable. Death is never going to give us enough time to prepare a legacy. So our everyday work should be inspiring enough for people to remember us after we are gone.

I would like to think that I would be remembered for being a friend in need. I have strived to help whenever someone has approached me for help. Even If at times it has meant going out of my way. I have been admonished by my close ones many a times because of this habit of mine. They say why do you have to take so much trouble for others especially when a lot of backbiting happens after the help. But this is my nature.  If someone asks I will try to help…

Second thing I think I would want my legacy to be is that I have been a good listener. Many a friends have have shared their problems with me.  Many people have told me that it is easy to share their secrets or stories or issues with me. I guess I inspire some kind of confidence in them that they can share their deep dark secrets with me. And be rest assured they remain only with me.

I think our words, our relationships, memories of the time spent with our family, friends and others, these are what we leave behind us when we die for other to cherish.And I hope, I would be remembered as a shoulder to lean on during times of trouble and a patient listener.

​WHAT IS POSSIBLE?

Long time back (9 years to be precise) while being in the course called “Landmark Education”, I declared myself a possibility of love, commitment and inspiration. And when I made that declaration on stage in a room full of people, I remember I was in tears because the moment was so very overwhelming for me. When I was asked to write on this topic 2 days back – the first thought that came to my mind was about the possibility that I declared myself to be. Am I still living it? I don’t know.

Well, what was running in my mind when I made the declaration? At that moment I think I was the best version of me. I have never been more energetic, positive and motivated than I was at that moment. I want to be known for the energy I have to keep my commitments; I want to be known for the work I do because that would be truly inspirational; I want to be known to unconditionally love my loved ones. Quite ambitious for a 24 year old that I was at that time!!

How far am I from the vision that I had for myself? I think only people in my life can be the right judge but if I have to look at myself – I don’t think I am at all closer to my vision. I have all the reasons in the world for not being my possibility but at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the reality. If I were to die today (God forbid), I don’t think I would be satisfied at all. There is a lot to be done and a lot to achieve. And everybody wants to be kissed by the darkness of death only when they are satisfied that they have lived their lives fully – with failures, happiness, regrets, achievements etc.

Why am I not an ounce closer to be my possibilities? Maybe because I am too busy with nitty-gritties of life. I miss the bigger picture. I miss to see that life has to offer much beyond regular work, hard deadlines, occasional parties, bringing up a good kid in the world and keeping your family together. There are bigger problems waiting in the wide world and somebody needs to take ownership of those. Somebody needs to pick up the problems of the world and not just their own families.

I asked myself a simple question – while browsing Facebook if I see a friend’s pictures at Maldives at the perfect location with a perfect partner, would I feel inspired or jealous? While browsing more through the news feed, what would I feel when I see a person’s article on his successful attempt at rescuing small children from human trafficking? Would I feel inspired or jealous? Answer is clear for me. Pictures of my friend probably would make me envious (if not jealous) and that of the social worker would make me feel really inspired. What are my Facebook posts all about? Do I post something that inspires people and they say – “Wow, this girl is up to change the world for good?” or do they think, “Yet another person busy taking international vacation. I wish I could go there.”

All of us must have a vision for ourselves and create a plan to make that vision a reality. Facebook posts is one such example of doing a reality check – there could be many more. Each one of us wants to leave something behind. With the digital world it is even easier – your Facebook/Instagram posts would always be there stored safely in some server in some corner of the world (hopefully). Your children, grand-children and great-grand-children could also access it someday and say something great or trivial about you. The choice is yours to make the right choice today.

In the last 9 years of my life (since the time I made that declaration), I have done little in my life to move steadily towards being that possibility. I am glad that I get a chance to write for Candles through which I recreate my vision for myself while re-declaring the same.

So here it goes – “Who am I is the possibility of Love, Commitment and Inspiration. So, today again I give up all the dialogues in my head to be this possibility”.

YEAH, THIS IS THE LEGACY WHAT I WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND

Legacy is such a word that many are afraid of facing it. But it is always my desire to leave something behind me. It is such a word that I am not worthy of it because the legacy left by the greats like Mahatma Gandhi, Raj Ram Mohan Rai, William Carrey etc., are unthinkable for me yet I think about it many times. I have a desire to leave something behind me for the world to follow it. I want to leave something like a baton so that the race will continue even when I am out of the race. 😛

During many memorial services I have witnessed, friends and relatives talk about the deceased person in whose name the memorial service is conducted. They remember the good qualities of that person and how he or she has been such a help to the society or family. Even I have shared about one or two people in their memory.

Now when I keep myself in one of those beds, lying unmoved with all my friends and relatives all around me crying while remembering me, telling and discussing about me what would be the conversation or the topic or the subject!!!

Will they be talking about how I used to stay jovial and smiling at all times or how I used to make people comfortable, talking with them?

Will they be talking about how I make fun of others at times or how I make fun of myself at difficult times?

Will they be talking about how I have struggled in life or how much pain that I went through?

Will they be talking about my failures because of my weaknesses or the frustrations that I had to go through?

They have the liberty to think whatever they can and I really won’t be having any control over it or neither I would be present to motivate them to talk this way or that way. But actually I can control their thoughts partially when I am alive. When I am alive I definitely can work on my attributes so that when I die people remember them and inspire each other to follow them.

But what am I going to leave behind for the people?

If I do a stock taking of my own strengths and qualities then I would pick “Owning a Relationship” to be the number one though sometimes I have failed in some of the crucial relationships in my life. And my failures make me to stay down, low, humbled, away from self praising and give all glory to God, the creator who has given me that quality for a purpose, for His purposes, to be carried out in His ways.

My failures also give teach me how to sharpen my quality more in His strength… How to strive for more… How to own relationships better and effectively…

I have always longed for people… longed for being with them… longed to understand them and own them as mine. I don’t know how it was developed within me but it just did and I praise God for that. I know how comforting it is to be accepted and understood. I have seen the joy in those faces of people when I accept them wholeheartedly without even judging what they have done or what state they are in. In my case as well I feel great when someone own me by accepting me wholeheartedly. Initially God did it when I came to Him with my iniquities and later I felt whole, comforted.

My desire is to leave behind this legacy for the people of this world around me.

The Bible says,

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.”

I just want to follow it by striving for it till I die so that I can inherit the quality that I have to the next generation.

Stay Blessed!

ARE WE SMART ENOUGH TO USE SMARTPHONES?

What a wonderful week we had at Candles, didn’t we? And why not! After all, the topic for the week was Smartphones – close to each and everyone’s heart! Mostly everyone described how important smartphones are, right from waking you up in the morning till finding you a way if you are lost, shopping, staying in touch with friends and relatives, tips for cooking and parenting smartphones do just everything for you. On the other hand we did have Chiradeep and Sanskruti talk about how the smartphones have impacted them negatively.

Like every coin has two sides smartphones also come with advantages and disadvantages. Smartphones have certainly made life more convenient and easy and most of us cannot stop praising its worth. Having said that, it pops a question on my mind whether we are really smart enough to use smartphones?

I think no, we aren’t because we are getting addicted to it. We are over utilising smart phones. We are crossing the line of moderate usage of this gadget. Now it is a common scenario to spot people posing for selfies and chatting on phone even when they are with a group of friends or family. We are stepping into isolation because of smartphones.

Smartphones have replaced telephones, calculators, alarm clocks, recipe books, physical maps, cameras, audio and video players but smartphones can never replace human touch and emotions. A smartphone will not smile at you. A smartphone will never hug you. A smartphone will never hear your pain and a smartphone will never wipe your tears.

I am sharing a link to the video that moved me. Do watch it.

Let’s pledge to be smart enough to (understand when to stop to) use smartphone.

PRISONER OF MY SMARTPHONE

Although smartphones have contributed a lot to our lives but I think they affe our quality of life.

A few months back, I visited my cousin’s house and met his two year old daughter for the first time. Just like any other kid, she is a very sweet girl but one thing kept bugging me- her constant usage of her mother’s phone. The minute the phone is taken away from her, she starts crying. The building in which they reside has a lot of kids of her age and she is even friends with them but doesn’t really enjoy their company as much as she enjoys smartphones. When my cousin was back from office, she kept aside the phone and ran straight to her father; sadly not to greet him, but to reach for his phone. I vaguely remember, I had left my phone in the other room and I was catching up with my cousin, when she crawled into my lap and searched for my phone. As her search went in vain, she jumped out of my lap with a sigh.

Not only the above incident but I have also noticed how much I have changed with this little box. My parents gave me a phone after my 10th grade. Now when I look back, I would say I was better without one. I love writing stories, reading novels and going out for bicycle rides. I used to do them very often but after getting my phone, the frequency has been constantly decreasing. I write stories once a month that too I have to push myself for it. I have almost stopped reading novels and going out for bicycle rides. I waste my whole day watching pointless videos or scrolling through social media.

I am not that crazy about selfies and photography as compared to most of the people I am surrounded with. Last year, my school had taken us on a trip to an amusement park. My classmates were more interested in showing their online friends as to how much fun they were having on the rides whereas in reality, they were more concerned about the number of photographs they had posted.

I think it won’t be wrong to say that we are prisoners of our own smartphones. One doesn’t have to share every moment with hundreds of people because it’s more important to cherish the moment with the ones who are actually with us.

It’s time we put down our phones and make the most of our days.

“Disconnecting helps you connect and create more.” – Ann Makosinski
She said this in one of her talks as to why she doesn’t use a smartphone.

​MY SMARTPHONE SAYS – “DON’T BLAME ME”

Will it not be an injustice to blame a mere gadget?

We, 90’s born has experiences in both post – ‘Smartphone culture’ and ‘Pre-Smartphone culture’. None of us can deny the contributions of the Smartphones in our lives. There are numerous evidences of how our Smartphones had made our works easier and effective and on-time as well.

One of the scariest nights of my life was a night in October 2015. I was on a full-week official trip to some of the remote places of Odisha and all of my assigned places and contacts were completely stranger to me. The only option for me was WhatsApp or SMS to my new contacts when I arrive. It was 2 O’ clock in the midnight I got down from the bus in the midst of a jungle. I tried to call my contact to pick me but there was no network. It was my first visit to that place and that day there was curfew because of some communal riot. Military forces were on combat operation with Naxalites. My contact had no idea about me apart from my arrival time. I was all alone in the midst of a jungle in that dark night. There was no network, no street light, no people and that to in a red-light zone. Almost after half an hour of such struggle I found my contact person searching for me on his motorbike. He just asked me – “Are you Mr. Avinash?” Before I could reply him he said, “Sir, sit as quickly as possible.” After reaching his home he broke out the good news to me. He said, “Sir, praise God I found you immediately. If I would have been little late then either you were in CRPF custody or you would have been dead at a point-blank range.

This is one of the interesting stories from my travel diary. Since 8 years, being a person always on road, I stayed away from my family and hometown. It is not at all possible for me to depend on someone to do my work. Whether it is waking up early in the morning or communicating some important message to someone, I need my Smartphone at all cost! Though I and my elder sister are always miles away from our parents, every night our Smartphone makes it easier for all of us share our emotions and thoughts and even at times taking the family decision together by video conferencing. Miles away alone whenever I miss my friend I just Google Duo video chat and see the lovely face and rejuvenate myself.

Now, do you think this mere machine is going bad?

In this world, everything comes in a mixed bag. From Man to Machine everything comes with their strengths and weaknesses. Living in this paradox culture the choice is up to us! A machine is given in our hand, not we human beings in the hands of a machine! For the right kick to our life and for the smart using of our Smartphone Bible suggests us two metaphors –

“Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who Lacks SELF-CONTROL.”

“Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what COMES OUT of a person that defiles them.”

Think to be Smarter than your Smartphone!

Avinash