THE MOTHER WITH ONE EYE
My mother had only one eye. When I was growing up, I hated her for it. I hated the uninvited attention it got me at school. I hated how the other children stared at her and looked away in disgust. My mother worked two jobs to provide for the family, but I was just embarrassed by her and didn't want to be seen with her.
Every time my mother came to visit me at school, I wanted her to disappear. I felt a surge of hatred towards the woman who made me the laughing stock of the school. In a moment of extreme anger, I even once told my mother I wanted her to die. I was completely unconcerned about her feelings.
As I grew up, I did whatever was in my power to distance myself from my mother. I studied hard and got a job overseas so I wouldn't have to meet her. I got married and started raising a family of my own. I got busy with my job and family and with providing a comfortable life for my beloved children. I didn't even think about my mother anymore.
Out of the blue, my mother came to visit one day. Her one-eyed face scared my young children and they started crying. I was angry at my mother for showing up unannounced and I forbid her to ever return to my home and new family life. I yelled and screamed, but my mother quietly apologized and left without saying another word.
An invitation to a high school reunion took me back to my hometown after decades. I could not resist driving past my childhood home and stopping by the old shack. My neighbors told me my mother had passed away and left a letter for me.
"My dear child:
I must begin by apologizing for visiting your home unannounced and frightening your beautiful children. I am also deeply sorry that I was such an embarrassment and source of humiliation to you when you were growing up.
I have learned that you may be coming back to town for your reunion. I may no longer be there when you come, and I think it is time to tell you an incident that happened when you were a young child. You see, my dear child, you were involved in an accident and lost one eye. I was devastated at the thought of my beloved child growing up with only one eye. I wanted you to see the beautiful world in all its glory, so I gave you my eye.
My dear child, I always have and always will love you from the bottom of my heart. I have never regretted my decision to give you my eye, and I am at peace that I was able to give you the ability to enjoy a complete life.
Your loving mother."
ROCKS PEBBLES AND SAND
At the beginning of a philosophy class at university, the professor stood with some innocuous looking items on his table – an empty mayonnaise jar, some rocks, some pebbles, and some sand. The college students looked on with interest, wondering what the professor was up to and unable to guess what the demonstration was going to be.
Without saying a word, the professor started putting the small rocks into the mayonnaise jar one by one. The students were puzzled, but the professor did not offer any explanation just yet. Once the rocks were up to the neck of the jar, the professor spoke for the first time that day. He asked the students if they thought the jar was full. The students unanimously agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up the pebbles on his table and slowly poured them into the jar. The small pebbles found their way in between the larger rocks. The professor then lightly shook the jar to allow the pebbles to settle in the open spaces in the jar. He then again asked the students if they thought the jar was full, and the students again agreed.
The students now knew what the professor would do next, but still did not understand why. The professor picked up the sand and poured it into the mayonnaise jar. The sand, as expected, filled up any remaining space in the jar. The professor for the last time asked his students if the jar was full, and the answer was again a resounding yes.
The professor then explained that the mayonnaise jar was an analogy for life. He likened the rocks to the most important things in life – good health, your spouse, your children – all the things that make life complete. He then compared the pebbles to things that make your life comfortable such as your job, your home, and your car. Finally, he explained the sand is the small stuff that doesn't really matter.
Putting the sand in the jar first will leave no space for the rocks or the pebbles, the professor elucidated. Similarly, cluttering your life with the small stuff will leave no room for the big things that really count.
Pay attention to everything that is essential for a happy fulfilling life. Spend time with your children and spouse. Fixing the disposal and organizing that dinner party can wait. Holding a grudge against someone is not worth your while. Get your priorities right and differentiate between the rocks, the pebbles, and the sand.
According to scientists, the bumblebee's body is too heavy and its wing span too small. Aerodynamically, the bumblebee cannot fly. But the bumblebee doesn't know that and it keeps flying. When you don't know your limitations, you go out and surprise yourself. In hindsight, you wonder if you had any limitations. The only limitations a person has are those that are self-imposed. Don't let others put limitations on you.
TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE
Imagine there is a bank, which credits your account each morning with Rs 86,400, carries over no balance from day to day, allows you to keep no cash balance, and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every pence, of course!
Well, everyone has such a bank. Its name is Time.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back. There is no drawing against the "tomorrow."
Therefore, there is never not enough time or too much time. Time management is decided by us alone and nobody else. It is never the case of us not having enough time to do things, but the case of whether we want to do it.
THINKING OUT OF THE BOX
Many hundreds of years ago in a small Italian town, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant's beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant's debt if he could marry the daughter. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal.
The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender's wife and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.
They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the merchant's garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.
What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.
3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.
The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl put her hand into the money bag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.
"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked." Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an advantageous one.
CARROT, EGG AND COFFEE BEAN
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.
It seemed that, as one problem was solved, a new one arose. Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans.
She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"
"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," the young woman replied. The mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened! The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
"Which are you?" the mother asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?" Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong but, with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit but, after a death, a breakup, or a financial hardship, does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavour.
If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
POWER OF SPOKEN WORDS
A group of people was travelling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit.
All the other men gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told them that they were as good as dead. The two men ignored the comments and tried to jump out of the pit with all of their might as the other people kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the man took heed to what the others were saying and gave up. He fell down and died. But the other man continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd yelled at him to stop the pain and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out. When he got out, others asked, "Did you not hear us?" He explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.
Lessons to be learnt:
1. There is power of life and death in the tongue. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.
2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill him or her.
Be careful of what you say. Speak life to those who cross your path. The power of words.... it is sometimes hard to understand that an encouraging word can go such a long way. Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times. Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.
THE OBSTACLE IN OUR PATH
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.
Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.
The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.