GRAB THE BROOM AND SWEEP AWAY THE DUST

Ever since I shifted to Bangalore, I chose not to keep a household help and preferred to do the chores myself so that I stay active at home. People often are taken aback and ask me how do I manage to do so much all by myself and I tell them that I want to maintain an active lifestyle and without going out for work, this will ensure my routine in the house doesn’t get lethargic. Doing the cleaning job myself ensures that all the nooks and crannies are clean and clear from unwanted dirt and dust.

Lately, like many others, I too have become the victim of pandemic stress. Yes, I must admit that on watching and reading the news videos and similar stuff, I ended up fuelling up the negative thoughts inside me. I even wasn’t sure if I could write up my article scheduled for today because I was feeling too low until I talked to Chiradeep, whom I messaged about my inability to write. While we discussed the increasing rate of depression in this COVID era, we also conversed on how we can immerse ourselves in doing positive things.  It’s strange, yet funny at times when you know the exact cause of your worry and still keep thinking about it. The situation is similar to that web in one of those corners of your room. You know that you have to remove it with the broom, but you try to ignore it instead, only to realize that the spider has got enough time to build a bigger web. And, when it becomes too shabby, you just swipe it with a broom.

Our brain is now filled with numerous stuff- work, chores, kids (their health, online classes, screen time, entertainment, homework, etc), immunity of family, and a lot more. Above all this, we load our minds with all the negative stuff that we come across social media. And this needs to stop. We need to sweep away this adverse junk to make the head feel lighter and life easier. Apart from this, you have to trust. Trust in God. Believe in your prayers, asking Him to remove every dirt that you have in your minds. He is and will be there for you, forever.

MIRROR – WHO DOESN’T NEED IT?

As a kid, I wasn’t dependent on the mirror but the more I am growing the more I am disposed to using a mirror. Then Mumma used to fashion me the way she wanted me to look like and then I never sought approval from the mirror. But as I grew up, I had the freedom to fashion myself the way I wanted to, and each time I went to the mirror for the first approval of my choice. Undoubtedly, as we grow up, we seek the approval of a mirror in our day-to-day lives because the mirror exactly represents us. Coining it perfectly Charlie Chaplin said,

“The mirror is my best friend, because when I cry it never laughs.”

As a grown-up man today, the closer I get to the mirror the more intently I can spot the imperfections on my face. I treated the pimple marks, sunburn patches, black spots, acne scars on my face but again it was the mirror who witnessed my ugly scarred face and also now the healed and better-looking face.

“If the mirror would be a human being, no one could ever dare to lie to a mirror”.

Interweaving the mirror metaphor to life, life always demands the mirror. We need the object mirror for the glorious physical appearance of our physical entity. A few minutes’ workouts at the instructions of this mere object’ prepares us with perfect physical appearance. Its instruction helps us to treat facial imperfections. Switching to the second entity of human life – The Spiritual. The mere mortal, finite human life is filled to varieties of flaws within. Physique that carries weakness and diseases within, the mind is always filled with negativity, every work gives some negative impact and above all, we live within a flaw filled environment. Undoubtedly, OUR SOUL also demands a mirror! But the advice or teachings of another mere human being also carries their own flaws and obeying them might multiply my existing flaws. Well, the question remains – WHERE CAN I FIND A MIRROR FOR MY SOUL?

The Bible verses say,

God’s inspired word – THE BIBLE is the mirror for our soul.

Oh, taste, and see how good is this mirror!

The more we get closer to the LORD, God the more visible the sins of our heart and as we follow God’s command and treat our heart, we find salvation for our souls. The imprint of such a state is a humble human and a matured disciplined mind. But the far we run away from the mirror of our soul (The Bible) the fuzzier is our heart seems to us. The Bible says,

Anyone who listens to the words of the Bible but does not do what it says

Is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself,

Goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

PURPOSE OF LIFE

Mamma, why is my soap always white? Why do you have colorful soaps?” asked 4 year old Mohit while his mother was giving him a bath.

Because your soap is the baby soap and my soap is an adult soap which comes in various other colors?” replied Anusha

But I also want colorful soaps.” Said Mohit stomping his foot hard on the wet floor of the bathroom while Anusha ignored his tantrum and continued to clean him. 

Later in the day, she logged on Amazon and ordered few of those colorful, animal shaped baby soaps for her son – just to avoid any more tantrums and so that he could enjoy the bath time. 

The trick worked and first soap that he got was a yellow colored lion shaped soap. He loved it so much that he started taking bath himself. He would make lion roars in the bathroom, would talk to this lion and keep it nicely in the soap case after every bath. Bathing time became the most enjoyable fun time for little Mohit. 

A week later, the detailing of lion’s face started to fade off. A couple of weeks later – it became just a soap, it wasn’t a lion anymore. 

Mamma, where is the lion now? Why can’t I see him?” said Mohit staring at the yellow soap which now was just a soap. 

The lion got dissolved in water.” Anusha said smiling nicely to her son.

Mohit had tears in his eyes now. “Why did the lion dissolve? Did I hurt him?” 

No my dear, you didn’t hurt him. You just helped the soap fulfill its purpose.” Said Anusha.

What is a purpose, Mamma?” asked Mohit

Purpose is something that you are supposed to do in your lifetime. The soaps are made so that they can dissolve themselves in order to cleanse others. This particular lion soap was created not only to clean you but also to entertain you. It did its job well. You loved the lion for the last two weeks, didn’t you?” said Anusha 

Can I get an elephant this time, please Mamma?” asked Mohit with a twinkle in his eye

Of course, I will get it for you once this lion is completely gone. See, even when the face of the lion is gone – its body is still there. You got to use it and when it completely disappears, I will get you an elephant.” Said Anusha.

Ok, Mamma.” Said Mohit now busy with the lion once again.

Anusha continued to wonder about the important lesson of purpose she had just imparted to her son. Every soap is made with a purpose to clean others and in that process it selflessly dissolves itself. While fulfilling its purpose, it completely vanishes and then is replaced by another soap. 

Similarly, we are sent on this earth to fulfill our purpose and while doing so we spend all our energies and one day we just vanish only to be replaced by our next generations. Life goes on this way for ages and ages. And there cannot be a better purpose than to cleanse others of their dirt while dissolving our own life little by little each day.

NOT THE PENS, BUT THE WRITING MATTERS

An enviable collection of pens adorned the cupboard!

All of a sudden, there was a mild commotion among the four Reed pens lodged at the farthest corner of the tray. The lone Quill blinked its eyes twice before asking the Reed pens what the matter was.

“You see, no one bothers to buy us these days. The modern generation does not even know of our genesis. Nevertheless, we deserve to be treated with dignity. We still write! We are the oldest of our species!” said one of the Reeds.

“Ah! Brothers Reed, poor you! Though I am the lone survivor here, you know, how classy I am! I am not as bulky as you, guys. Sleek, tender and sassy that I am, I have been used even by the Bard of Avon. What dramas, what plays, what poetry has flowed from me! Surely, I deserve a higher standing than you guys!” said the Quill.

By then, few of the Fountain pens had started rattling among themselves. One of them shouted unasked, “Hey you oldies! Do you even realize who I am? The first time a child in school switches over from pencil to pen, s/he is gifted a Fountain pen. Beautiful writing flows from me. I can shape the writing of even the most lethargic writer. So, please stop grunting early in the morning. I am the supreme of all.”

“Hawww…hawww”, yawned the Ball pen. “You know what, I reign unconquered. Pour a glass of water over my writing, it would still not fade away. You people, better not debate about supremacy.”

The Gel pen tip-toed into the clamour and started off with an air of diffidence addressing no one in particular, “Well, well, the smoothest writings that flow these days are from me. I am the quintessential one of all. Neither do I need any one’s acclamation nor a seal of recognition from any quarter.”

Just then, the door to the cupboard opened wide and the pen rack was brought out.

Out came the Gel Pen for some rough mathematical calculations on paper. After a few minutes of arithmetic jugglery, the paper was crumpled and tossed into the bin while the final calculated value was written elsewhere with a Marker Pen.

The Fountain Pen was taken out to underline three words on a printed sheet.

The Ball pen was used to put a mark on the wall as a drilling point.

The Reed Pens were cleansed of dust and replaced carefully.

The Quill was used for a demonstration and kept back in the case.

The pen rack was stacked back in the cupboard.

After a while, the cupboard opened yet again. The pen tray was brought out once more.

The Fountain pen was picked up and a paragraph was neatly written on a blank sheet, after which the Ball pen was used to draw a few ray diagrams which were labelled with colourful Sketch pens. The diagrams were captioned using a Marker pen. Soon followed some pretty important bullet points written by a Gel pen

The writing on the sheet stood out beautifully and meaningfully. Finally, the topic was inscribed on top using one of the Reed pens and underlined using the Quill.

“Ah!” said the scribe, “I have put my heart, mind and soul to successfully complete my assignment. It sure is a marvellous piece of writing.”

Thus saying, the pen tray was restored to its position in the cupboard where the pens continued to adorn it.

Not the pens, but it was the writing was what mattered. Not the make of the pens, but the mind behind the writing deserved applause. The pens continued to be used by the scribe to indite remarkable proses, poetry and dramas – at times used for a scribble, at times just for dots and at times for whole pages of writings. 

None of us in this world is great or small. We are just like these instruments of writing by the great Scribe, i.e., God. He uses each one of us in ways known best to Him alone to script the story of the universe. In the end, it won’t matter how each one of us looks, how skillful or inexperienced we are, to what era we belong – only that we have been a part of the mega script penned down by the Divine Scribe. Any jostle for recognition on the basis of self-proclaimed attributes is sheer vanity. He gives each one the due part in the mega story of the universe.

Being in His story is what makes us valuable, just as being used to write the masterpiece ascribed value to the pens, irrespective of them being what they were!

Music Or Chair – What’s Your Choice?

“The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round; The wheels on the bus go round and round all through the town” and the music stops and kids fight their way to get a place on the insufficient number of chairs placed in a circular configuration.

And we call it “Musical Chairs”, a fun game we all have seen and been a part of. As the number of chairs decrease the competition gets intense. Some physical dribbles, some sulking faces, few sportive acceptances, few angry stomping – all for that coveted chair of winner 😁😁.

Well that’s all fun but have a close liaison with our life, just need a deeper look, let’s have a look then.

The fight for chairs isn’t just a game in the birthday parties but a reality of our desire driven lives. Comparison with fellow human being is constantly fueling the competitive streak (not always a good spirited one though) in us. Success, position, power – the Chairs we are fighting for and resorting to every tactic we could. These chairs are placed high and have a pyramidal structure beneath them, paving a way to reach them and have two directions for the summit – one a long one and the other obviously the antonym for the previous one.

If hard work, patience, strong will, perseverance, honesty, optimism are the stairs to climb and reach the “High Chair” then deceit & envy are the second direction we were talking about earlier that can place us in a jiffy in the place we are eyeing for (remember the dribble/push/pull in the musical chairs?).

The stairs we take to climb here are surprisingly the raw material for the “Chairs” we long for. While the previous list gives us a durable product with an added perk of Goodwill that aides reconstruction in case of an accident which is a norm of an uncertain life. Success, Position, Power – all might get wiped out but with a great character a human being is always up on his feet and starts head on.

On contrary if a person takes the other route then the termites of fear, ego, greed and arrogance enter the legs of the chair we rest on, corroding it to the core from deep within. When the chair crashes the hurt is deep and probably beyond repair.

A close encounter:  Talking about the choices we make, makes me remember a snack maker from my childhood in our neighbourhood.  When we moved to that particular neighbourhood it wasn’t a busy quarter. Provisions, services were scarcely developed there and slowly evolving. So a snack maker started a small business in that area. He used to make wonderful snacks that we loved to devour. He had a good market in the absence of a stringent competition.  He was comfortable in his “Chair”.  Since change is thy life, slowly other entrepreneurs started making their space in that area. In the wake of losing out market share to them this particular snack maker started the “business” deviating from the path he chose. His quality, quantity of food deteriorated, prices soared (which is still understandable in the wake of market changes and if had been the food was great). His greed to keep the position of a higher market share purported him to take the easy steps to attain the goal. Something close to the game of musical chairs we were discussing, isn’t it?

A recurring question: A strong belief that only losers preach or put it the other way round, preaching is only for the losers. I am no one to question or answer this – a candid confession! But the question that needs to be graced with deep introspection – Are Desires Completely Undesirable/ Unacceptable? Answer is NO. If desires of a person are acting as a fulcrum for his/her upliftment, if they pave a way for greater good and emancipation of many more then they are surely a necessary driving force. BUT ( noticed the emphasis?) if our desires are robbing us of sanity, peace of mind, values and inspire us to stoop to any level to reach the zenith (a mirage), then we better leave the game and enjoy the music instead.

There’s always another party and game to play and music is there anyways, so enjoy on a reclining chair with your hair down, what say 😁.

 

ARE YOU READY TO ROCK WITH YOUR SHOES ON?

I remember as a small boy when I hear my parents or elders announce a fun trip of my interest, I get ready within no time. And the usual comment I used to get from them was like, “Uhmm… Babu, Jota Ffotta Pindhiki ekdum ready (Aha! The boy is already dressed and ready with suit and boot). But I don’t used to get the same remark when I get ready for my school or was asked to visit a place that was not of my interest. They used to literally keep pushing me to make me get ready for the same. In fact, I used to hear shouts at my back, “Did you wear the shoe as yet or not?”

We always wear a shoe at the end after we get dressed fully before we start a journey leaving our comfort zone, our home. A shoe tied well around our feet implies that we are ready or prepared to set out.

So many times, in our life we must have been challenged to do something against our will or against our mental preparedness forcibly and eventually we fail to achieve or accomplish something that we were expected of. So, preparedness matters in everything we do, both mentally as well as physically.

In army fraternity, the discipline they follow from the day one, trains each one of them to stay prepared for an emergency situation inside or outside their country. That is why, when they are asked to leave their comfort zones, they do it at once, without hesitation, without asking any questions.

The Bible so appropriately says,

No one serving in the military gets mixed up in civilian matters, for his aim is to please his commanding officer.

That is called mental preparedness, stuffed with obedience and humility.

I am always reprimanded for my laid-back attitude. Being laid-back or sloppy is just the opposite preparedness. I know, I have suffered and struggled for being sloppy in my life, I truly regret it. But I am striving to stay read or prepared wearing my shoes around my feet well before the arrival of worst days.

Keeping aside the personal level of preparedness if I want to give an example of a larger scale then I would love to mention the preparedness of Odisha Govt. during different cyclones that the state faced in the past. I can proudly say, that the state of Odisha has always been prepared for any cyclone after it suffered a lot in the past.

There were reports, that before cyclone Phailin hit the coastal regions of Odisha, there was a record-breaking evacuation took place to safeguard human lives and the state Govt was highly praised for their preparedness. Even during cyclone Fani in 2019 the report says the same thing about the promptness of Odisha govt., unlike to the loss of human lives in 1999 super-cycle because of the unpreparedness.

This is just an example of state level preparedness but coming back to the individual level if we look around, we can find ample number of such examples that make us understand how preparedness can help us at difficult times.

In closing, I wonder, if I am prepared when I am needed to stand in the gap between a father and a son and be the agent of reconciliation! I wonder, if I am prepared to stoop down to the level of a poor and deprived and lift him up from down! I wonder, if I am ready to wear the shoes of someone else and understand the pain the other person is going through!

I wonder, if someone is still saying at my back, “Aha! The boy is already dressed and ready with his suit and boot”!

Stay Blessed!