BOREDOM PROMPTED ME TO EXPLORE

Bearing a tag – ‘Fragile: Handle with Care‘, I lived my whole life till I stepped on the soil of the City of Joy – Kolkata in the year 2001. Till then I had lived my life amidst close relatives and family in a very cozy and warm atmosphere. I had never done anything on my own or went outside alone. But in Kolkata, the challenges were new and difficult for me to face. After office time I had nothing to do but to read books, write something or study Bible. There was no one to speak with, no one to play anything or nothing to do that would entertain me, or nowhere to go as I had no idea about this new city and I was all alone. Soon, I was dragged into a depressive shell called Boredom.

In those initial days at Kolkata, weekdays were manageable as I kept myself busy at the office during the day time till 6 PM and somehow managed the evenings till bedtime. Sundays were also okay as there were church services till afternoon which kept me engaged. But Saturdays were worst. There were no office or church services on Saturdays except my lonely world called, Boredom.

Every time I woke up on a Saturday morning, I had one worry, ‘How to finish this day as soon as possible?’ But every time, I ended up dwelling in that uncomfortable shell called, Boredom without stepping out of my comfort zone.

But one Saturday, I decided otherwise. I wanted to break free by breaking the shell of Fear and Boredom within which I had been dwelling for a long time. I decided to take that first step in my life by stepping out of my dwelling place called Boredom which actually prompted me to go out and explore; explore something new and challenging for me at that moment of my life, something I had never done before on my own.

I remember, I told my mom, “I am going out to roam and around the city as I am feeling so bored”. My mom was aware of the plight of a 25-year-old man who had been spending all his life with a lot of restrictions and obstructions which had actually cringed him in a dungeon called, Boredom.

I took a rickshaw and went till the main road and took a taxi from there. When the taxi driver asked me where to go, I replied, “I don’t know. Take me wherever you think best for me to feel elated and happy but within Rs. 200, I should be here at this place, safe and sound.” Rs. 200 was like Rs.2000 for me at that particular moment and I had that much only with me to pay, attempting to kill Fear and Boredom in one go.

The taxi driver was a compassionate man. He understood my heart and responded well, “You must have already known and seen Howrah bridge, so I will take you to another bridge which is a new one and called, Vidyasagar Setu”. I nodded without saying a word as my heart responded to him loudly, “Thank you! But know that, I am at your mercy“.

He took me there, on that bridge which was way beautiful than any other bridge that I had ever seen till that time. When he brought me back to my place, I remember, I paid him Rs.170.00 but we both were extremely happy which were priceless. I was happy for taking the first step to come out of my Boredom and explore the city all alone for the first time, and he was happy for being that change agent in my life.

Captured by me: The road leading to Vidyasagar Setu

Many years later, when I had the opportunity to capture the beautiful Vidyasagar Setu, I remembered how I explored it in 2001, all by myself.

Captured by me: A glimpse of Vidyasagar Setu

I had been to Vidyasagar Setu a number of times in the last 20 years of my life in Kolkata but that first trip to Vidyasagar Setu will always be my favourite one till the end.

Captured by me: Crossing over the beautiful Vidyasagar Setu

Every boredom prompts something to explore. If your boredom doesn’t prompt you to explore then remember you are not bored but actually enjoying where you are.

Today, due to my health condition, I don’t go out much but I found other avenues or have explored something else to get out of my boredom. But all these mini or big explorations have always made me happy and kept me joyful instead of dwelling in depression and boredom. And I will quote that same Bible verse again which has always encouraged and prompted me to explore – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” We can not make use of our ideas, intellect when we are dead. We can utilise them only when we are alive and our God wants us to be happy and joyous in life, kicking off a life of grumbling and complaints. With this thought in my mind, I had initiated and gave birth to my child – Candles in 2006 and I am so happy to write this article today, which is the 2000th post published on Candles Online.

So friends! Never dwell in depression or boredom but be prompt to take the first step and come out of that shell called, Fear and Boredom to lead a joyful and cheerful life.

Stay blessed!

FIRST STEPS ARE NOT ALWAYS CAKEWALKS!

Escapades from the din and humdrum of routine life are fun, exciting, adventurous, a tad scary at times and offer elements of surprise that one would cherish or banish from memory forever. A first step taken either literally or symbolically in any avenue is more often than not, a step to remember – especially if you had been scared to take that step.

To kickstart this week’s topic – ‘Taking that first step . . . when you were afraid’, let me share one such fun episode from more than a decade before.

I was in the University pursuing my Post Graduation. The famous apparel chain Pantaloons had just opened their first outlet in Bhubaneswar. My University being just a few kilometers away, my friends and I decided to pay a visit after classes got over one day. We were excited, especially because there weren’t too many big brand outlets and malls in the city that time.

We weren’t disappointed! The stock of apparels and accessories pleased our eyes, though being students still, we didn’t have much money at our disposal to splurge. Once we were done with the ground floor, it was time to move up to explore what the other two floors had in store. There came the catch! Having been designed as a mini-mall of sorts sans food court, there were escalators to ferry customers to and from each floor. No staircase. No lift.

My first exposure to an escalator and the accompanying hesitation to take the first step! One by one all my friends stepped on the escalator and reached the first floor while I was still stuck in the ground floor. Somehow, I couldn’t muster enough courage to take that first step. My friends soon realised that I wasn’t with them and called out to me, to which I simply gave the excuse that I had to explore a few more collections in the ground floor.

After some time when I still didn’t reach up to the first floor, one of my friends understood the reason. It was very sweet on her part to come down to the ground floor, hold my hand and take me to the escalator – all the way assuring that she would be going up with me holding my hand. And, that is just what she did!

Lo! We reached the first floor hand in hand and joined the others in exploring the stuff there. The same friend held my hand while descending from the first floor to the ground floor as well. The others who had by that time known what had kept me downstairs, went down and and encouraged me to do so. But, this friend stayed back, held my hand, stepped on the escalator with me and gave me the courage to move downstairs.

It has been more than a decade to that first exposure to an escalator. Surely, I don’t spare a second before stepping onto escalators now! But, the memory of that first step sure makes me chuckle 🙂

As I stepped out of Pantaloons that evening thanking my friend endlessly for lending her hand to help me overcome my fear, I learnt a very important life lesson – first steps aren’t always cakewalks!

Across life’s pathways, being sensitive to others’ first steps helps makes the journey pleasant for them. At times encouragement from a distance helps. But at a few other times, what is needed is to extend the hand to hold on to and take the step together. It helps address the inner fear and the accompanying hesitation along with providing the confidence and the courage for an independent step in the future.

Coming to escalators, now that I don’t bat an eyelid before using escalators, I always look out for people who might be in the same place that I was years before and extend them a hand with a few words of courage. I am grateful to God for teaching me such a vital lesson from the experience that day and also for reminding me how He holds my hand across life’s myriad pathways with His promises – “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you . . .”

So yes, a fun outing turned into a vital learning that day. To be sensitive and respond to someone’s inner fear of the first step does more than you can think of in many ways. It helps keep your conscience alive and responsive (that’s to your benefit) and helps the other person reach a new level of confidence along with accomplishing the immediate goal at hand.

 And if you are a person hesitant or afraid to take a first step in any area of your life – literally or otherwise, I would like to encourage you that a helping hand would soon come by. Don’t stop . . . move on!

DAILY MOTIVATIONS!

Finally the tiredness seeps in, the body gives away and the mind stops its race. Sleeps takes over and into the world of dreams we enter. Forgetting the worries we had, all the hectic schedules, the numerous work and the never ending demands. Losing the track of time and regaining the energy and peace of mind. The ring of the alarm, wakes up the brain, to schedule the rest of the day. Thoughts of laziness, “Why should I wake up, this early?” and the small little sleeping baby’s smell. The love, the snuggle and the pain of waking up your household, just to start their day off. The push of the heart and mind, forcibly making the body awake, “Up, Up now mommy, the kid needs you for the rest of the day.”

This is how, my night ends and my day begins. It finishes off and begins, with the same motivation, that keeps me on my feet the whole day. The love for my kid and attending to the needs of my family. May be this is how every normal home maker would feel. Maybe it is the same motivation, which makes a home maker be the first to wake up and the last one to go to bed. Maybe this is the same love and worry of a home maker for her household and its members, that makes her do her job, wearing a smile on her face throughout the day. No matter how tired she is, how irritated she feels, how sick she is, or what she wants to do, she always keeps her family first. She finishes her chores and meets the need of her family, daily, without fail, and then if there is some time left to spend on her own, she does what she loves the most.

I, am a very lazy, easy going and not-too-excited-to-do-much-work type of a person. I love to finish my tasks early, so as to do things I like. I sometimes feel, its totally unnecessary to go into household work for a long time. Days as such, I get thinking about how events in life, has led me into such situations. But, at the same time, smile and the satisfied look, on my husband’s and my daughter’s face gives me all the strength that I need to do the days work. This is just an example of one kind of motivation in my life.

There are many a times when my heart hurts and pains by the words spoken to me. Feelings of me letting down the hopes of others, tears me down and with a heavy heart, I call my mother. I tell her how I feel or I think that I have let down someone very close to me. How rude I was, or how my words pained them. I pour out my heart in front of her. She tries to motivate, inspire me and she points out my mistakes and tells me how to rectify it. She gives instances and examples from our time together, to explain me things. She brings me out of my misery. Not only she, but my father also tries to light the fire of humility and meekness in me, by lovingly pointing out how one should surrender to strong feelings and ultimately do what is right. They have helped me, be the person I am today.

The biggest and the most important motivation that I get in life is from my Lord, my Saviour. Every day in the morning, getting up and surrendering the entire day to Him by studying the Bible, I feel His peace and satisfaction in my heart. Whenever I feel troubled, I simply pray to Him, asking Him to pave my path, to show me ways, to handle everything that comes my way as His word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

He has not only made all things wonderful in my life, but also have given me the perfect amount of motivation, to do many things in life. Willingly or unwillingly, even keeping my own respect at stake, later saving it. He has held me through troubled waters and quick sands, saved me from dangerous situations and people, has lifted me from a level zero, to where I am now. He has always been there for me, whenever I am at my low or I am in an excited state. He has always given me reasons, good enough to do things that matter, that are necessary to me or are important for my family. There were times when I was in desperate need of motivation, guidance and advice and there! He was right there. Holding all the necessary information, relevant conversations, very apt reasons, modified statements and even moral policies, in case I drift to the other end. He has always answered my, “why’s” and “What for’s”. He has pulled me out of pain, reasoning with the situation, in turn motivating me further. He takes the side of the other person always and has always pushed me to become myself after a very bad, or painful situation. He is the main source of my motivation and an unending and unfailing one.

These are my daily potions of motivations…

WHAT I DO TO PICK MYSELF UP

Last year I had a brief spell in my life when everything turned upside down. Despite all the light around me everything seemed dark. A small term paper submission triggered an avalanche of self-doubt in me and for a week I was mentally paralyzed. I began to wonder what the hell I am doing with my life.

I had left my job for pursuing my masters in English literature as I wanted to rebuild my career, start from scratch ,and do something I actually like and care for. The term paper submission got me all tensed and worked up and I started to rethink about the decision I had taken. I even tried to find a way if I could get back my old job. I had almost made up my mind do drop out from the course and look for another job if I could not get back my old job.

I was living alone and did not have anybody to share this with. My parents would get too worried for me and my situation was such that only a few could understand my agony. A friend who had made a similar decision helped me out and calmed me down. His conversations helped me a lot. Another thing which kept me strong during this phase was taking long walks. I would wake up and go for long aimless walks till my legs hurt. And I did that even in the evenings. I would have walked 5 kms on certain days. And those were the only times I did not think of my decision.

Apart from definite health benefits walks can be very helpful to our emotional and mental well being I believe.  Whenever I am at home in Siliguri I take long walks to the nearby “fafri” forests. The sight of the tall Sal trees, the sound of the morning birds, the sight of the mischief-making monkeys, and the company of strangers clears my head and prepares me to face another day. When I was in Tezpur, a quaint town on the banks of Brahmaputra in the state of Assam, I would always take a walk during the evenings to Ganesh-Ghat and sit beside the quiet waters of Brahmaputra and contemplate. It was soothing and relaxing at the end of a taxing day.

Another activity which pumps me up is listening to music. This is especially on holidays when I’m feeling very lazy and also at times when I feel low. I never keep a readymade playlist at hand and usually listen to varying genres across different languages. One common thing across them is that I look for uplifting and relatable lyrics along with good music. The well-written songs carry stories and episodes which can really lift up your mood and elevate your mind.

Deep conversation with select-few friends, either in person or over phone, is a blessing which I relish whenever I get a chance. A very personal thing I try to do, whenever I have to cope up with a situation beyond me, is to pray. At times in my room or go to the church, sit by myself, close my eyes, and just soak in the quietness, the solemn atmosphere, and let myself feel all that comes my way without inhibition and leave it at the hands of the almighty who is my sign of hope, love and life. I just feel light within, as if a burden has been lifted off me, and it gives me the courage and strength to continue to fight my battles.

An extra tip: Indulging in your favorite food can also work a charm when you are down in the dumps. A margarita pizza or an amazing misti-doi (you can google it) with semi-mashed himsagar mangoes does it for me.

THERE IS SOMEONE OUT THERE TO MOTIVATE

There are pills and balms to apply on the pain in our body but what about the pain of our heart?

How many times have you cried bitterly and literally, there is no one out there to wipe your tears or to ask you “what happened?”

Whether you are on a crowded street or in a crowded bus but there is no one out there to ask you “why there is no smile on your face today?”

Almost after a fatigued long day, you reached home, unlocked your flat and in the darkness of the room with head to toe full of pain you sat for hours together, desperately wishing there would be someone to offer you a glass of water but alas even after an hour you had to limp to the kitchen just to have a glass of water.

It might look filmy to few but trust me this is few people’s daily life!

When this is the everyday story it becomes harder and harder to trust people and God! The only question that rises in their minds – Who is there for me?”

We, as humans, are created by God, so mystically that we cannot live without another human being. Hence the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” 

Undoubtedly, we all have such persons in our lives and it is his/her pat on our shoulders, a smiley tag on WhatsApp, words of appreciation over phone motivate us to move on…

Though I am a people-centered person, yet in my low hours I always try to stay aloof from people and confined my circle only to my family and to my two beloved friends and at times my cousin sister.

A couple of months back I was emotionally broken and almost for a week I literally stayed aloof, I only responded to my parents’ phone calls each night, just not to make them worried! Alongside just not to pretend I responded to my most beloved friend’s WhatsApp messages in 1/5 ratio. But as always my friend caught me rightly and phoned me. As she kept bouncing on my head I had to literally share what all I am going through. She did what we both always follow to motivate each other. And that’s a Biblical principle – “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.  

In our motivation, we always encourage, refuel and rejuvenate each other but we always strictly abide by another biblical principle – “Elevating God for all of our achievements in our life”.

Mr. Nick Vujicic, the Australian man with no arms and no legs says,

Know that there is always someone out there who believes in you and who loves you just the way you are.

Life is a mixed bag! Journey with joy and sorrow, smile and tear, pleasure and pain, failure and achievement is quite obvious. But with this mixed bag on our shoulders, we all need that hand of motivation and the mind that connects us with the godly love shown in the human to human relationship.

Let us never quench from the fellowship with God and worthwhile people our life. Because ultimately motivation comes from them and they never shift like shadows!

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER

My neighbour’s garden is so beautiful decked with flowers, grass so levelled, every pebble just in right place that I really feel like singing:

Marie, Marie quite contrary,

How does your garden grow

Make sure you read it in rhythm and let me confirm her name is not Marie 😁.  She is an eighty year old woman with love for gardening.  I have seen the passion with which she caresses each and every plant, waters them, nurtures them. I can not imagine myself in her shoes at her age at this moment.

It’s not just her, I have seen and met women who irrespective of what age they are, are living  and leading lives with full zest spreading positivity and giving hope to follow. Be it grooming oneself, following passion, acquiring new skills – for few age is never a hindrance.

Some celebrity examples (examples covered by media):  This creates better impact you see😁:

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

J K Rowling: a story that could have turned into a tragedy as attempt to suicide was inked on those pages is now an example of stupendous success.  Her life prior to success of Harry Potter was never a fairy tale and success didn’t came early as the first copy was rejected by 12 publishers. What if she haven’t had pushed her way through the big road blocks of “NO” thinking I am over 30 now, what can I do, It’s too late.  Just imagine.

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

Smt. Nannamal, 96 years old yoga teacher, Padmashree awardee, is the oldest yoga teacher in India. Just watch her once and you would say “not even Beckham can bend like her”  😁.  She is giving a strong message on how to lead life, a healthier way – body and soul. Age is just a number.

Carmen Dell’Orefice (Featured Pic): Aged 87, gracing the cover page of the world’s most sought after and read fashion magazine “Vogue”. After experiencing an exploited childhood, three broken relationships, marriages to be precise does world still seem to be a better place to live? Give it a thought.

These wonderful women (only handful have been mentioned) truly motivate me one or the other way. Like my neighbour who is more than double my age inspires me to take care of “My” garden which at this moment looks like hair strands left on a bald head 😂.  When I feel de-motivated looking at my current work status, rejections I have received so far, and obviously seeing all my contemporaries working (I am not jealous, hope it’s clear) such success stories rekindle, re-ignite the passion to go for it (Facebook has proven to be useful to me this way). They say  to me “It’s never too late”, Give one more try before you give up” .

I  remember having met one my friends on my way back to home. I was clearly upset mentioning the gap of 9 years on my CV. She said “kids should be our first priority when they are young and dependent and who said you cannot work later.  Gap of nine years or your age is just a number, so trivial to be de-motivated and stop trying.  You are never too old to live your dreams” . That really boosted my confidence. I am really fortunate to have met her (hope she reads this 😊).

Living life is more important than counting days.  And these women motivate me to do the same.

Disclaimer: I am not a feminist as I have mentioned only about women 😁.

UPLIFTING EFFECTS OF ‘TED TALKS’

What really motivates me? That question seems so easy yet I sit here dumbfounded. Funny thing, how your mind just goes blank sometimes. I have heard this often that motivation comes from within, but is it wholly true? One cannot expect a pessimistic person, like me, to be self motivated all the time. We all tend to have some rough times in our life when we feel like giving up on everything even though the thing bothering us might be as small as a fly and won’t even matter in a few months’ time. Whenever I am low, I tend to shut down; I stop talking to people or access any social media but I do use youtube. TED Talks is something which always uplifts me. It’s kind of weird as they might not talk anything even near to what I am feeling but somehow boosts me up.

Data and analysis is one thing but experience is another thing. Every speaker has their own way of building a connection with the audience. They don’t lecture, they do the art of storytelling. Stories have a tendency to inspire and move people to action whereas facts usually becomes boring to even listen to, let alone have an effect on people.

TED was born in 1984 out of Richard Saul Wurman’s observation of a powerful convergence among three fields: technology, entertainment and design. The first TED, which he co-founded with Harry marks, included a demo of the compact disc, the e-book and cutting-edge 3D graphics from Lucasfilm, while mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry.

By now you must have lost interest in reading all the above information, haven’t you? Even I got bored while writing it. That’s what plain information does, but these speakers have the ability to make plain information deliver in the most unique way which won’t waver your attention.

If you still don’t believe me, I suggest you to spend a few hours on the following few must-watch TED Talks.

  • Do schools kill creativity- Ken Robinson
    Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.
  • Underwater astonishments- David Gallo
    David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and a Times Square’s worth of neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean.
  • If I should have a daughter- Sarah Kay
    “If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she’s gonna call me Point B … ” began spoken word poet Sarah Kay, in a talk that inspired two standing ovations at TED2011. She tells the story of her metamorphosis — from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. — and gives two breathtaking performances of “B” and “Hiroshima.”
  • The best stats you’ve ever seen- Hans Rosling
    You’ve never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world.”
  • The danger of a single story- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

And the list goes on… but I suppose these will be enough to make one realise how amazing TED Talks are.

Stay happy and motivated 🙂