Sunday, October 20, 2013

'Been There, 'Stand Here, 'See That


It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The first approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! But the Elephant
Is very like a WALL!”

… The Third … And happening to take
The squirmy trunk… Thus boldly spoke up and spake:
“…Is very like a SNAKE!”

 …The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: “E’en the blindest man
Can tell …is very like a FAN!”

…And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

 (The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887))

This is an abridged version of this poem, but I have tried to leave some vital details. I learnt it way back in my elementary days, but recent happenings have brought to mind its major lesson. And this has helped me see some issues a bit differently.

Now these ‘blind’ men were in fact using all they had basically to understand the ‘wonder’ they had come to meet. Each one interpreting from their experience based on where they stood and what they touched.

My assumption is that if they all changed positions, they might still say similar things (maybe not exact), to what the previous man had said. So instead of ‘snake’, maybe another blind man would have said ‘hose’ or even ‘rope’. The previous experiences they have had (the turns of life faced, perhaps even personal discovery from victories and failures) shaped each one’s perception leading to those final conclusions.
We all go through life facing issues and getting to hear what others go through. How we perceive those situations, how we judge and also react is tied to our personalities and what has made us who we are (experiences and exposure).

My take from this is that to a big extent, all views and opinions are relatively fair. This realization could actually help us handle issues, especially those involving people a little more differently. In actual fact our different personalities, upbringing, knowledge gained, association and exposure are continually driving how we see. Changes in these also modify our perception too, that is why we are continually changing. It is also why we may not be right all of the time. I could say my town is the largest place on earth, till I stand at the top of the Empire State building (102 floor bldg. in New York) and look at the view from there. However, like the last stanza put their views… albeit subtly fair, not necessarily right.

This does not essentially mean we should leave others in their ‘wrong’ since they may just be seeing or experiencing a small part of the bigger picture. The focus when desiring to help should be to change what we can. Their past and personalities are beyond us, but we can help them adjust even if just a bit from where they stand. We may need to patiently take them round to feel more parts of the elephant, get the bigger picture to respond even more appropriately. Personally, I also try to pray, because it could be tough. So when next someone says ‘really that cup is half empty’, pause and remember this poem before you decide how to respond.

The other challenge is ourselves. We need to make sure we are humble and open to allowing others help us see from a different angle, to share from what they have experienced, or the superior information they have on that issue before we respond or conclude. We need to be flexible to shift from where we stand to where we can get a clearer view and have a better opinion. And probably instead of those individual parts emphasized in the poem, we’ll say, the elephant is all of these indeed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Even Cinderella Had Till Midnight

I’m sure many would understand what it is like to get an inspiration on something to share, but never really get around doing it. That is the case with this post. As time passed I’ve also had different ideas on how to title it, from ‘Yes the grass may just be greener on the other side, but the owner of the field probably has blisters’ to ‘It’s not going to come or stay that easy’. Finally I decided on this perhaps because it’s the most recent.

For all who recall the famous Cinderalla story, her wishes did come true (courtesy of her fairy godmother) but then could only hold till Midnight. ‘Cos in reality, wishes are limited. They could set us off on the course but we have more to do in reality. And this actually is the message I’ve carried in my mind for so long, with too many incidents hitting it home over and over again.
Life allows us very often the occasion to compare. To look over the fence and often just wish for the results and accomplishments of others, but very rarely the efforts that have been put in. It’s about time we go beyond that, and consciously move to being deliberate and purposeful about what we truly wouldn’t mind, what we really want in every area of life.

No relationship for example would blossom without being cared for. Be it with family, friends, colleagues or even God. It’s easy to watch others and desire the intimacy/rapport we see. But it wasn’t automatic for them. Choices were made, actions were deliberately taken that is why they enjoy what they have. Are you willing to be humble, to compromise for fairness, to serve, to give (hugs, kisses, time, encouragement and support or gifts), forgive offenses and even to pray? Are you ready to show courtesy, saying ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ at the right time and in the right way? So if you are fortunate to be married to a rare gem, you’ll need to brace yourself up more consciously for that gem to remain rare, even to you.

That child of yours is not going to be a believer in your faith, ideals and values just because you are. You need to make sure you walk the talk, in addition to teaching because that’s what kids know best. No school is going to make a genius out of your child (academically or in extra-curricular). Look out for the “outliers” in your child’s school, there’s definitely something different the folks are doing. What have you observed in your child? What have you done so far? Are you ready to motivate, encourage or pay an expert to coach to help him be the best he can be?

Yes you graduated the same year as that friend of yours. Probably you even got your great job months before he got his. How come he rarely complains of needing funds for personal things, he even just invested in another income generating opportunity. And he also gets to go on vacations to take a break now and then. Yet you don’t understand how your take home isn’t actually taking you home. You shouldn’t be wondering, instead ask questions, read books (e.g. the Richest man in Babylon, simple and practicable), make a plan, if possible get someone you can be accountable to, note your expenses and review it, save something as often as you can, invest in other streams of income…it won’t be easy but your grass will get greener.

The same applies to your health. How careful are you about what and when you eat? Don’t just sign up at that gym, get started. What of that skill/knowledge you gained a while back? It will only remain unproductive as long as you don’t upgrade or creatively apply it, even if voluntarily.

In all honesty, it’s difficult to push though on anything that doesn’t even mean anything to us. It’s tough to consciously study and learn about what we don’t value. Perhaps it’s a re-orientation that is required, to begin to value, and stop taking casually those things that really matter. But if for any reason, that relationship means the world to you, if your health should tell a different story in your lineage, if your child is indeed your treasure… by all means, go beyond wishing, become deliberate, even get the blisters because the sun and the rain would come and they will help guarantee the greenness of your field.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Don't Lose The Reason Why

Indeed there would be times in our relationships especially marriages when we ask ourselves - what exactly was the reason or purpose for this? Situations could come up to question why you even went far enough to say "I Do".

I believe God must have been touched by my musings on this, cos I was led to the popular scripture in Ecclesiastes...

Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much betterIf one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he's in troubleAlso on a cold night, two under the same blanket gain warmth from each other, but how can one be warm alone?And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; Three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken(Chapter6 v 9-12 TLB)

Rewind back to Gen 2v18... And the Lord said..'It isn't good for man to be alone; I will make a companion for him, a helper suited to his needs'

Yes, scripture is our life manual, and definitely the best source for solutions on any issue and answers to questions we have. There are many other references to marriage aside these, but for now I would stay on these.

So here's my encouragement, when those thoughts come, remember...

1. Companionship is good and God had this in mind. In this relationship, you have a friend to talk to, someone to spend time with, share life with and all the blessings that come with it.

2. Man, she is your helper, suited to meet your needs. Equipped to, if you'll allow her.

3. Woman, you are his helper. With you, he is even better off.

4. Together, you accomplish more. Your results on things done jointly are way better.

5. Somehow, most times, you are not both down at the same time. So that the one up can support the one down to stand again. Many times you don't see things the same way, so that you can both share different perspectives on an issue for a more balanced position and decision. (When this happens with us, my hubby and I call each other 'check and balance')

6. A cold night, cozy under the blanket...nothing like a great love making to the one you're committed to and who is committed to you. You have the right to legit romance and passion, no rush, no guilt, no shame.

7. Back to back, that's your warfare've got his/hers, he's/she's got yours.

8. The ultimate, ultimate...when the one who established it is involved, God Himself; as foundation, as wall around, as light by day and fire by is guaranteed, destiny would be fulfilled, your Canaan would be reached and possessed.

To conclude on this, just recently I read some articles that further inspired me, so try to...

9. Remember those special things about him/ her that you fell in love with; that made your eyes so single (and focused back then) and your body full of light. That's why it is him/her not another. Remind him/her about these things.

10. When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable. So you don't fall into the error of abuse, thankfully re-commit to God. He has a way of restoring the specific sense of purpose of our marriages and the flame so many cares have started to almost blow out.

At His Feet,

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bobby Jones Also Taught Me...

In my last post, I was able to share 3 of the lessons I took away from the movie on the life of Bobby Jones. Should I say in another way, lessons he taught me, even though we never met. This is often the case in life though, further enhanced by technology, the internet and social media. People we have never met and would never meet are influencing us and we them. More people can watch you, more can listen to you, more can read from you..., so what information are you sharing, what lessons are you teaching?

As Bobby grew older, he got involved in informal plays and then competitions. People began to notice him more, especially because he was so young compared to those he played with. On one of his trips at the early stages of his exposure to the limelight he said "I don't think I want to be famous...I just want to play". That definitely challenged me. One may say, he was just a kid, what did he know. But then, approaching life from a kid's perspective...innocent and pure (even in motivation) is usually a healthy approach. He saw what he did and was more into it for the fun he derived, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. That was why it turned out so differently for him. Later in life, he said again, 'once you play for money, you can't call it amateur'; he preferred to be referred to as an amateur. I like to use the word passion to describe this. I feel it's a differentiating factor and also a sustaining one. What you do now, is it fun? Do you enjoy it? If you never got a dime or recognition for it, would you continue all the same?... mhh, time will tell.

At one of the opens he played in, Bobby reported an infraction which set him back in the game and eventually affected his win. At that point, he displayed the height of sportsmanship. He was more concerned about doing it right than winning. We also do get to those points in life, when we have to make tough choices. Do we choose to show integrity or win (knowing, we've broken the rules)? If we become so overtaken by the sense of always competing, always wanting to be the first or the only ones achieving some feats, it's so easy to fall into this error. Sometimes never learning the rules (but then ignorance is no excuse), or knowing them and never truly valuing them. In addition to the dent to one's name or personality, what's the use of breasting the tapes and then getting disqualified for running so wrong? On the long run, truth, sincerity and fairplay always win. Some famous personalities especially athletes have suffered falls from this too....if only they had known. Learn the rules, play by it, sometimes it hurts, but then it pays.

Bobby played more, won more, and became very famous. This involved traveling more, practicing started to tell on his health, and even on his marriage. Tell -tale signs were blinking red lights...and then he stopped. He retired. He stepped out of competitions. Simply putting it, he knew when to stop. This is another challenge all of us face. The question 'when will you stop?' Or 'when will you say no'. If we get carried away by fame, always putting up a show, always being there, or perhaps the idea that without us, some things will never be, then we allow the more important aspects of our lives to deteriorate, and we eventually lose out. Watch your relationships, watch your health; those are usually the first to give warning signs. Do not take them for granted, besides, it's better to leave the scenes when you're still being celebrated. You really don't have to take up just any and every opportunity. Let's be careful and be bold enough to identify when to say no when we have to. Do you know when you've had enough, done enough and when to step out completely? ‘Cos truly, life never ends when this happens.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What Bobby Jones Taught Me

Unashamedly, I like movies. Infact I really enjoy watching movies, first for the entertainment derived and also the new things learnt. Apart from the effects that are achieved post production of some, I'm particularly thrilled by the creativity put into them - the plots, the quotes, the make up, props and costume.

Like music and books I do stay away from certain genres. I know very well to guard my heart by watching the things I expose my eyes and ears to. Sometimes though, I struggle to watch some movies, consciously pushing out the 'behind the scenes' like locations of lighting, cameras, director, producers et al. This wasn't quite the case with Bobby Jones - Strike of a Genius. 

Ok, I don't play golf yet (I will definitely someday, outside of wii) and don't even know all the rules but I do like the little I know already. Probably this and the movie - The Legend of Bagger Vance, which I watched a while back motivated me not to change the dial. I'm glad I did not. Inspite of the not so encouraging reviews some have written about it, I still feel very positive about it. I learnt a number of things, but I'll pick my top two to share in this post. 

The early days of Bobby show him tagging along with his dad on golf courses (despite grandpa's disapproval). Watching and learning without paying a fee. What better way is there to stir up an interest in a person than starting casually, without cohesion, without duress, especially a young mind? Also, do the young ones around you know what you're passionate about? Are they opportune to watch, to study even leisurely? If yes, you might be raising a protégée without even knowing it. If no, you may want to create opportunities even deliberately to stir. 

Another learning point was while he (still so young) was at a tournament where the masters were competing. He knew them. He brought out a book (probably from his dad) and was pointing them out, and the peculiarities he knew about them to his friend. It got me thinking. Is it possible to be passionate about a cause or a field of endeavour and not know those topping the charts. Is it possible not to have heard of the works of the experts who have blazed the trail, the professionals who have broken records, the gurus who have left footprints in the sands of time in that area?In as much as one can't model one's life totally after any, their strengths (even weaknesses) and teachings are great learning points. Is it possible to say then, if you don't know or can't say anythng about anyone in this regard, perhaps, you're completely in a new terrain, or perhaps you haven't discovered what you're really interested in? And you may want to make an effort to discover and learn from them, or keep records of your learnings for others. 

To be contd... 

Friday, May 10, 2013

On The Way There

As I prepare this note, I am filled with deep gratitude for my life and the many blessings of God I enjoy. One thing I know God has blessed me with, is the ability to think deeply about a matter.When a thought or idea comes my way the brooding process begins. It turns over and over, I perceive different dimensions to it, and then begin to spot and identify information around me that explains it more. A lot of times though, in His Presence (my Secret Place), I get conclusions and directions. Recently, this happened again.
I actually have some recordings on this, so I would start from there, knowing many aren’t privy. It’s on Purpose.Lately for me, the pursuit of purpose has practically consumed me. I pray a lot about it and have discussed with close ones too. The major concern for me, is not wanting to “dilly-dally”. Like I say often, I just want to hit the bull’s eye on this one. I won’t say I’ve got to a satisfactory point yet, but I would like to share some learnings God brought my way.
Many of us are also at that point, where we want to discover what we’re here for and living it, or that value we are meant to be adding or that message we are meant to be delivering.A big question however is, what is driving that pursuit? Is it the fear of being left behind by your peers or perhaps being outraced by those coming after you? Is it the ambition to achieve great feats just so your name can be recorded in some hall of fame? The truth is when these are weighed against ‘the Time beyond time’, these reasons won’t matter. What will go through to the life beyond now, is YOU and the thoughts of the One who is ever out of time, God Himself. And my take out on this was, WHO YOU BECOME while you pursue, discover and live purpose is key. In other words, are you becoming a better you according to His standard? Are you being refined into Gold?
The second learning for me came while discussing this topic again with a friend. It was further reinforced with a tweet I saw by TD Jakes on embracing the process. I’ll say on this simply- MAXIMIZE THE MOMENT. Many of us are so caught up in achieving certain things that we miss the details along the way.I asked someone lately, if you were blindfolded and made to touch the hand of five people (the sex/gender of your spouse), would you be able to tell who your spouse is? This may be simple for some, but what about other details like the fingers/toes of your kids. The window the sun shines through in the morning in your house. The taste of the different spices in your meal. The (new) logo on your favourite brand. Mmh… the details, the process, the journey… seemingly trivial, but very key as well.

The last, but definitely not the least is this. Discovery of purpose outside of discovering the One who made you is really incomplete. When it has all been said and done. We’ll get to the other life. To me, it’s the real life. It’s weird to put two strangers in a place to live forever. My thoughts, you certainly don’t want to spend eternity with someone you don’t know. Why not spend the time here, while going about pursuing purpose, getting to know the One who made you? This is more than what others tell you about Him or what you read. It should be you experiencing Him for yourself, and knowing Him one on one. I believe this on its own will give the sense of fulfillment that can’t be matched by any other experience this side of life.
I’m convinced that as we become careful and conscious of who we become, appreciate the details of our journeys /processes, as well as experience God ; discoveringand fulfilling purpose will become truly rewarding.