For all of us who aren’t sure, it is possible to be Christian/Hindu/etc and gay.
It’s also possible to believe in God and science.
It is possible to be pro-choice and anti-abortion.
It is equally possible to be a feminist and love and respect men.
It’s possible to have privilege and be discriminated against,
to be poor and have a rich life,
to not have a job and still have some money.
It is possible to be anti guns and still believe in one’s right to defend one’s self, family, and property,
it’s possible to be anti-war and pro-military.
It is possible to love thy neighbor and despise his actions.
It is possible to advocate Black Lives Matter and still be pro police.
It is possible to not have an education and be brilliant.
It is possible to be a devout follower of Islam and also suffer at the hands of terrorists.
It is possible to be a patient and a healer at the same time,
To be sane and insane, all at once.
It is possible to be different and the same.
We are all walking contradictions of what “normal” looks like.
Let humanity and love win.
(Inspired by Cynthia Stamm Clark)
Butterflies are Us
Art, healing and unifying us.
Once upon a time her life revolved around music. Her days and nights were spent either listening or humming or singing or watching thinking about songs. All her time was infused with music. Her friends would sometimes have to shut her up. She was addicted. Music was her friend in good times and bad. It was a constant and reliable companion. It never let her down. They had a steady relationship.
One day her world turned upside down, inside out and back to front. She couldn’t make any sense of anything anymore. Music didn’t help. It fell by the wayside. Their friendship disappeared. She couldn’t cope with rhythms, notes or lyrics. Melodies brought forth floods of tears. Harmonies took her to painful places. She stayed away. She fiercely guarded her heart strings from melting. She preferred silence. Deep, dense, safe silence.
Serendipity stepped in. A musical friend who knew of her old connection invited her along for an evening of informal singing in a friendly group. She reluctantly agreed. The thought of revisiting Music had fleetingly crossed her mind on New Year’s eve. Her parents and friends had been gently pointing her in that direction. Her love of music was alive but its expression immediately exposed her fragility. Could she risk it?
She decided to go along even though she was filled with self doubt. Would she be able to hold a tune? Would she get the timing right? Would she run out of breath before the end of a line? Would her voice sound okay? After a long estrangement, would Music be her friend again?
On the morning, she meditated, prepared herself physically and mentally, determined to face Music and re-establish their friendship.
She did it.
It wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be. She went with the flow. Her throat welled up a few times. Her eyes got heavy with moisture. Every now and then she completely lost herself, disappeared. She came away smiling, feeling lighter. She reinstated a new, joyful connection with her old friend, who had been waiting for her all this while.
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Ref: Neuroscience of singing: http://upliftconnect.com/neuroscience-of-singing/
Last year Si brought back a large packet of tulip bulbs from Amsterdam. Special pots were bought, gravel and compost lovingly layered, appropriate spots chosen. The planting happened at the end of December last year. Si and I have fingers of all colours except green. So, we waited for absolutely nothing to happen but to our utter delight, little shoots appeared last week.
The days are longer. The air is lighter. The light is brighter. One season has gone making way for another. Daffodils are raising their pretty heads and trees are sprinkled with white and pink blossom. Meteorolists worry and blame global warming for an early spring but I am happy. After many months of being cooped up in a cup-board, a blue linen dress found its way out into the fresh air this morning. First one this year!
Today is the 20th anniversary of PAPYRUS. We celebrated it as a group of 80-90, discussing the past, present and future of the charity, extending support to each other and sharing ideas about increasing the reach and impact of the work we do. For me, it was a day of hope.
“If I knew to convert
even this day’s riches?
Be content with articulation
Of Earth’s wisdom:
One state must have its duration;
Produces from itself a second;
One state and then another
Leading to an end I cannot presuppose.”
- From ‘The Mystical verses’ by Joseph Maning, a gifted poet who delights people with his works on the Southbank.
(The Attic, by William de Kooning)
In the 1920s, a Russian film director, Lev Kuleshov filmed a male matinee idol staring in turn at a bowl of soup, a young girl in a coffin and an elegant lady reclining on a couch. The actor got rave reviews from the audiences on his ability to effortlessly evoke hunger, grief and desire in the film. What they did not know was the fact that the director had used the same shot of the actor each time, just cut to each different object.
Humans have an innate need to impose order on the world. If we are presented with disparate images, we will try to assemble them into a meaningful order. It we are given a bunch of jumbled unrelated words, we will try to arrange them into a sentence that might mean something.
In the mid-twentieth century, Wiiliam de Kooning emerged as one of the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism. His art is known to put brains in a tizzy, desperately trying to order and make sense of the shapes within. Faces? Animals? Semi-clad human forms? Women? Doors?
(The Excavation, by William de Kooning)
Maybe life is the same – unrelated images randomly juxtaposed, the human mind desperately struggling to make sense of them.
William de Kooning: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-willem.htm
Kuleshov effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gGl3LJ7vHc
Having a couple of daylight hours still left after work is a luxury. This evening I was lucky. I walked aimlessly along the Southbank and ‘The F-word’ exhibition caught my eye. F for Forgiveness. Bold posters with simple, human messages from ordinary people from all over the world, telling stories that transform, offering a dynamic and challenging exploration of forgiveness through real life situations.
There is nothing ordinary about forgiveness. Forgiving others. Forgiving myself. I constantly struggle with it.
One mother said “When I was told that my son had been killed in action, the first words that came out of my mouth were ’Do not take revenge in the name of my son.’ It was a totally instinctive response.”
When Saagar passed away, one of the strongest feelings that came up for me was – no one should have to loose anyone they love to suicide. That was the driving force that kept me alive and goaded me on but forgiveness is a subtle and powerful thing that happens at another level. I am very conscious of the fact that it is something I really need to address but keep putting it off while it keeps gnawing away at me. Perhaps, it is not entirely by co-incidence that I chanced upon this exhibition.
Work is good.
Ikebana is beautiful.
Friends are lovely.
The weather is not bad.
The volunteering is going well.
Meditations are peaceful.
Writing is fun.
Si is a blessing.
Family is great.
Smiles and laughter are coming back.
Music is returning.
Good things are happening.
Saagar’s friends are sweet.
Energetically, things feel positive.
All is well.
But I miss him.
I miss him to death. It kills me.
I miss his smile, his hugs, his smell, his voice, his jokes, his brilliance, his light.
I miss the way he made me feel.
I miss what we had and what we could have had.
I miss the cup of tea he would sometimes make for me.
I miss everything about him. I wonder if he knows how much. Our texts, our conversations, out silent communications, our shopping sprees, our travels… I miss them all. Even though he is always present, I miss him like hell. Nothing seems to lessen the missing. It is always there, like an unbearable part of me. The wretched missing and me are incurably, painfully one.
This is a well-known story within medical circles. A few years ago, a patient was in the operating theatre to have his diseased kidney taken out. Everyone believed it to be the left kidney, except a medical student who said in a hesitant, soft and muffled voice that he thought it was the right kidney. No one paid him any attention and went right ahead to take the left kidney out. It turned out, that was the wrong kidney. The only person who was correct was the medical student. The person who suffered the damage was the patient.
Large organisations are hierarchical by nature. Decisions taken by those on top are rarely questioned by juniors. But true leadership means, the ability to challenge the status quo. The culture of an organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.
During their selection process, Google particularly look out for ‘courage’ in candidates. They prefer to hire people who ask the right questions and are not afraid to be open if they disagree with what is being said, irrespective of who says it.
The only way to improve is to be open. That is how we learn.
When was the last time I kept quiet when in fact I had something to say? When was the last time I didn’t have the patience to listen? What are the dynamics at my work place? Who pays the price for my silence or my inability to listen? Will I have the courage to speak-up the next time? Will I have the courage to listen?
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca
Ref: Just a Routine Operation (A short film about the importance of Human factors , one of them being assertiveness) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzlvgtPIof4