Friday, 27 June 2014

A Refreshing Walk Among Nature

Yes, like everything else, research now tells us walking among natural surroundings boosts creativity and reduces stress. Must the last of our pastimes be validated too?

'All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking'
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Any case, there I was on one late afternoon, enjoying a walk among the greens.The weather was just right: a light breeze blowing, rustling of tree leaves, the peculiar scent of the reddish-brown mud, bright butterflies flitting by and the chirping of birds was the only sound I could hear. I was all by myself. Idyllic setting! 

Enjoying these surroundings, drinking in all the sights, smells and sounds is a great experience: it helps me become one with nature and immerse myself in God's creation.

I must have walked for half an hour, lost in my own world when the noises began piercing the silence. A group of tumultuous young boys was running in toward me from the opposite direction. Laughter, shouting and the buzz of activity interrupted the tranquil landscape. I chose to continue waking on, knowing that they would walk past me in a short while, and let me enjoy my reverie once again.

One of the boys stopped and pointed at a large tree. He picked up a stone and hurled it at the tree. 
All hell broke lose then. He had stirred up a bee hive and the angered bees set after the boys. The terrified boys scampered away as fast as they could. I don't know whether they managed to outrun the bees or the the bees got to them first. I chose not to panic. I remained still. 

After a few minutes, things were back to normal and I walked on. I came across a small stream and sat on a large boulder watching the gurgling water. Couldn't help thinking of the incident. Of course, boys will be boys, I smiled to myself. Aren't we all often guilty of the same in our ways?

I realised that this incident was an excellent metaphor for the way our minds work. The walk among nature symbolises mindfulness, the ability to enjoy our immediate surroundings, take in the small joys, live in the now. One can excuse the small boys' misdemeanor to childish mischievousness.

Think about what we do to our minds. Do I need to be walking among the greens to be relaxed, fully enjoying the moment?

Thoughts are the honeybees that we ourselves stir up to destroy our tranquility.
Think we must, undoubtedly. However, is there any point in stirring up thoughts that rake up negative emotions, painful memories: that too without any provocation? Aren't we sometimes 'predisposed' to falling into this trap? Of trading away the peace of mind for an army of thoughts which will take us nowhere.

Sitting there, as I watched the stream flowing by , I said to myself: why don't we allow our past to go by us? Water which once passes downstream does not return, does it? Why do we choose to hold on to our past, refuse to let go of it?

Why then, do we this to ourselves almost everyday of our lives? If it is not the past or negative emotions, our next pastime is worrying about the future. I am guilty of this as any of you might be. To a certain extent, Meditation has helped me detach myself from such 'toxic thoughts' even when I am not meditating.

The reset button brings my serenity back.
A virtual walk in the woods, with or without the bees.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Father's Day Makes Me Feel So Special!

Two moments of life have been extra special. The first one was when the nurse handed over the bundle of joy to me at an unearthly hour: we were at the Hospital, my mind was in a stage beyond nervousness..around predawn, my baby was born.

'It's a girl' the nurse informed us. It was an anti climax of sorts. Mom and I were fervently wishing that Khyati would give birth to a baby girl. Sis and Khyati wanted a boy. Now here I was holding the little baby in my arms, I had prayed to God it be a girl and girl it was. She had been born without a fuss, just as we would have wanted. Maybe it was all the adrenalin in my system that had now drained me of all emotion. Happy? Yes. Delirious? No. Too benumbed for that.

About the second moment:The baby was less than a month old when I used to wrap her tightly

in a cotton cloth as many Indians do. It was evening time and I was pacing about in the room, holding her, the baby's head nestled against my shoulder. It was an exquisite feeling: realising that I was actually a father, she was my child, our child! That I had fathered a child at an advanced age (I had crossed forty at that time, Khyati thirty nine) made me value it more. For some reason, my connection to Diti was its most intense at that moment. I felt blissful holding the beautiful baby.

Life was never the same again after Diti's birth. I sensed I had to be more responsible, caring and sensitive to the family's needs.

Meanwhile, how swiftly the nine years have flown by is simply amazing! Watching her grow has been a source of joy and pride. Her first step, first words, her eagerly trying to form sentences....and my waiting for when she could have a meaningful conversation with me..

Vacations and activities have become centered around Diti. As I have been working from home since a number of years and my work hours are flexible, we get a lot of time to spend with each other. Being a Bipolar, I sometimes wonder if the child misses the life she would have otherwise spent with a 'normal' father? I comfort myself by reassuring myself that at least I am trying my very best to be a good father. She is not a demanding child, though. We have a playful, fun filled relationship. If I'm separated from her for even a few days, it's tough to bear.

I am sharing what I had posted on Facebook when Diti was on a long vacation last month and work pressures meant I could not join them. These words sum up my bonding with her.

Missing you Diti.
You and Khyati have been away just for a week,
yet the week seems stretched like a year
Have never been separated from you beyond a few days
Can't wait till you come back next week
Although I know you are having the time of your life,
Playing with snow which you have never set your eyes upon!
Away from the summer heat, surrounded by icy peaks
Your sweet voice on the phone is no solace
Craving to hear stories of excitement and fun!
Just can't wait for you, darling
those few days till I can hug you to my heart's content.
Until then, play on with the snow...

Thank you Khyati for a gift I'll ever cherish, thank you Diti, you made me a father.

Happy Father's Day!!

Friday, 6 June 2014

God, my Robot Anita and I

Anita, my personal robot keeps arguing with me on just about anything our minds can grasp. This time it was about whether God exists or not.

'Look, I am a child of science', she said with pride. 'Made in a sophisticated laboratory and powered by the wonders of technology. I believe what I see, what science can prove. My master is the one who created me. I don't believe your God exists'

I swiveled in my chair and pointing to a painting, asked Anita.
Do you see this? Describe what you see.

'It's just a portrait of a lady. Let me see..' She walked across the room to have a closer look.
'What's the big deal? It's just a piece of canvas mounted on a wooden frame.
Any case, weren't you trying to prove God's existence? Why are you side tracking the issue now?'

Be patient. What's on the canvas?

'There's oil paint: many hues, many layers of it'

Go on.

'Well, the subject is a semi clad woman: if she had  known that a man like you is ogling her, she's have had the sense to be dressed up! She's got two eyes, a face, two arms, two legs and what should have been covered if she had been half decent, two ------.'

That'll suffice, you see, we are a family blog.
Would you agree the lady is exquisitely beautiful?

Now this made see Anita see red. A woman is a woman even if she is a robot. Her vanity had been challenged~ 
she was a finely crafted, graceful piece of work herself.

'What's so beautiful about her? You men find almost every woman beautiful!'

I turned to my pretty vivacious, Sheilla, who had been listening to our banter in amusement while 
sitting by my side.  

Isn't the lady in the painting stunning? The artist's fine use of light and shadow, the infinitesimally delicate brush strokes.. Just look at her eyes, her half smile..she takes me to another world..sublime!
I smiled.

Our experience of God is similar. A bit like appreciating a fine piece of art.
Excessive analysis and logical thinking drowns the voice of the soul and distances us from God. The soul sees the picture in its entirety. The whole magnificence of it. The whole naked truth, as truth always is. The sheer natural beauty of it that it drinks in with love and awe.

We can experience God's beauty only through the eyes of our souls.

So, Anita, show me where is your soul. Did your creator gift you with one?

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