MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “lessons”

Independent confinement

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Tom was frequently likened to a cat. Mainly because, whenever he could, he slept for most of the day.

He didn’t mind being compared to a clever feline. He rather saw it as a compliment.

Cats are perhaps the most independent pets around. They can take care of themselves and act as if you’re living in their house rather than the other way around. They are the beings for whom the problem during lockdown is that everyone else is staying home with them. But they can also teach you so many things on how to manage self-confinement. They know how to adopt a slower pace of life as the norm; to seek out the sunny spots in the house; take stretch breaks; stay curious and always discover new things making each day exciting; contact a human every so often; keep a tidy space and clean yourself often.

Cats are the embodiment that life is easier when you’re not too busy with what others are doing.

The problem with people like Tom is that they can’t be like cats for too long. Everything in life requires a measure, a balance to be complete. And even though it is healthy to spend time alone; to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person, happiness has greater value when it is shared.

And in order to be able to live fully, we need more people (or animals) in our life. People who share our concerns, and who will seek us out whenever we choose to disappear in the most incredible hideaways.

We will meet again soon. For the time being, choose to shine; it’ll soon become a habit.

The value of a lockdown

©MCD

So we’ve spent perhaps one of the strangest Easters of our time. But we managed to celebrate it as much as possible, with people who are far yet near with the aid of technology, with love and wishes that know no borders, and with optimism and positive vibes that everything will pass and we will meet again soon.

The truth is that if you’re not in hospital, if you’re not sick, if you’re “stuck” at home with your family, if you even have a home, if you’re not entirely alone in a house away from your loved ones, this Easter in quarantine was not your worst Easter. In fact, it may even be your most memorable one. Because it taught you lessons you so far failed to see.

How to spend time with the people you share your home and life with; who matters and who cares enough to be around even if they can’t see you in person; the importance of exchanging wishes and words of encouragement even if no physical interaction may be involved. But most importantly, it revealed the reinvigoration of going outside for fresh air, for a walk in the park, or around your neighbourhood – parts of which you just recently discovered. How to spend time slowly, relishing every moment of it, to pause, to breathe, to enjoy things that we missed or didn’t have time for.

The lockdown is actually forcing us to slow down our pace of life and in the process to actually live our life.

And as we relax, inhaling the cleaner air around, we wonder why we haven’t lived like this for so long. Why this wasn’t the normal we are all longing to return to.

There will come a time when we will reminisce the weeks we were forced to stay home, learning to value the time we have and appreciating the small things that we miss, despite our constant moaning about our confinement.

Wouldn’t it be great if we would have learnt something out of all this and changed some of our habits?

“In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” – Dave Hollis

When all this shall pass

© MCD

For you to see the stars, you need a dark sky. That is the only allegory suitable to describe how to remain optimistic and patient in order to see the positive in a gloomy and tragic situation.

Staying positive, doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that better ones are coming”. That is something we need to remember now more than ever.

Because around the globe, restrictions of movement, closed borders, bans on public gatherings etc, are all commonplace at the moment. We are all self-isolated….together. We are all in this together. Most of us are called to fight an invisible enemy in an unprecedented war from our couch. Others are on the frontline working night and day in hospitals, witnessing the painful consequences first-hand. All we are called to do is to #StayHome, #StaySafe, so they can help us out of this.

Viewed in another perspective, the whole world is frozen at the moment. As if someone pushed a ‘pause’ button and ‘regular’ life simply stopped. For how long, nobody really knows.

Sometimes even the hardships serve for a higher purpose. It is during the hard times that we realise how strong we truly are. (“We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test” – Isabel Allende) And we acknowledge what truly matters. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has proven that everything around us is so temporary. Things we revolved our lives around: our work, gym, cafes, malls, cinemas, society itself, have all become irrelevant as we are now learning for weeks to live without them. It has taught us that we are so technologically advanced we can actually work from home, i.e. anywhere, and we can remain more connected than we believe. It is in our own homes and families in the end that we will remain safe. We learn that distance cannot keep emotions away.

But when all this shall pass – because it will – we will come out reborn, we will have learnt (hopefully) to not take anything for granted, to appreciate everything and everyone we have more. Because it is in this distance and isolation that friendships will be tested and relationships will either be reinforced or shattered.

Like Victor Hugo said, “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. Every day is a lesson: the good days offer happiness and the bad ones, experience.

No storm lasts forever. But if we can stay positive in a negative situation, we win. It is up to us how to manage the situation we are in. “Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours”.

We can’t change how all this started. But we can change how we deal with it from now on. And certainly what we will learn out of it. To become a bit more humane, empathetic and less selfish. To value the little things in life. To be kind to everything that is alive. And above all, to wash our hands.

The story of a needle and a thread

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Take this,” the Master presented his young Disciple with a thin piece of thread and a tiny needle.  The young one took it in reverence. He was terrified that if he dropped it he wouldn’t able to find it again.

The task is to pass the thread through the needle five consecutive times. Consecutive,” he stressed the last word.

The young boy gasped. Surely his Master wasn’t serious.

Consecutive?” he emphasised it too. “But that’s impossible”.

The Master said nothing. He turned around and left, leaving the boy to his task.

It took the Disciple ten times alone to simply pass the needle through the thread the first time.

He was already tired. That’s when the little devil inside him began to speak. His Master wouldn’t know if he hadn’t accomplished the task. Or if the five times were not consecutive.

But then that other voice appeared. The one his Master had infiltrated his mind with. “But you would know”.

The boy continued. He had managed three consecutive times. And then after what seemed like hours, four. But five seemed literally unachievable.

He stopped. Cleared his head for a minute and inhaled deeply. He looked across the horizon and experienced every sound and smell present around him.

Then he began again more determined than before.

And all of a sudden, he had done it. He himself couldn’t quite believe it. He yelled in excitement, so loudly his Master came almost running. He smiled at his Disciple.

What did this teach you?”’ There was always something to be learnt.

That nothing is impossible?” The young boy was hoping this was the right answer. His Master disliked that the boy was missing the point of the exercises by trying to find a “correct” answer without being certain of it.

What did you receive from it?

Irritation, anxiety, anger….but then determination, strong-will, and…patience. Patience, above all”.

The Master smiled. “Nothing is truly impossible. We just need the patience to discover it can be done”.

What you see is often what you actually get

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“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” – it’s Newton’s Third Law of Physics. Or put plainly: whatever you give out will come back to you.

Wouldn’t that be great if it were true? If all the attention, effort and emotion you put into your relationships, your work, your life in general, was reciprocated? If the people you were there for when they needed you, would also run to your side when difficulty hit your door?

We don’t always get what we deserve. No matter how much we try or appeal for it. Some things are beyond our control, and although it’s hard to swallow, we need to accept that we are not always responsible for the way people behave or even treat us. It’s a matter of character, of mentality, of experiences, of upbringing; of a series of factors we have no effect over.

What we can do is stop putting ourselves out there for people who won’t do the same for us. Because, usually, when people show you they don’t care, it’s because they probably really don’t. You need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and regain the strength you had before all the emotion got to your brain. Sometimes we need to behave more rationally than emotionally for our own mental health and wellbeing.

You reach a point at times when you realise there is no use in putting others before your own self. In the end, you’re most likely the only one who does.  And you simply end up losing yourself in the process.

Grounded

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As teenagers, we often complain, moan and storm into our rooms angrily when parents forbid us from doing something, usually going out. It has gained the term “grounded”, as if we are airplanes prohibited from flying to symbolise that our wings are being tied down.

Yet, the same word has another meaning: that of being well-balanced and sensible. Of being able to see both sides to every situation and being capable of taking a rational decision.

It is only when you are truly grounded – actually prevented from flying – that you realise what the whole concept really entails.

We have the option of going anywhere we want, practically at any time we choose to do so. Yet, we may not exploit this opportunity for months. But when that “given” is taken away, when the choice is removed, that is when we start to miss it.

Life has a strange way of altering your point of view and of offering valuable lessons.

Sometimes it is not about how far your travel, but how much you spread your wings and do fly. How much you take advantage of every opportunity life gives you.

What is thrown your way

https://www.permacultureapprentice.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/cover.jpgEverything you experience is a lesson.

It was the first thing Joan saw when she walked through the halls of her new school. Her age was not even a double digit then. But she remembered everything clearly. The memories had imprinted in her mind just as everything she learnt there grew in her heart.

She was grateful for the life she had in that building. Not only of the things she learnt in theory and in practice, but also for the people she met there. Those that stigmatised her for their positive vibes but also for the heartbreak their meanness had caused. Everyone had a place and a reason.

And everything served to make her stronger, braver and more determined.

She matured and grew to a better person when it was time to leave.

She was different when she walked out of the halls. Not even recognising herself and who she had become, she was proud she had survived.

The scars only served to remind her of all that had come in her life and the fact that she had managed to overcome all the obstacles and challenges that tried to bring her down.

She was still here. And she was resolute in making her presence even more prominent in the future. No matter what lay ahead.

 

The unlikely bull-fight

http://kassowal.com/wallpaper/Sport-Wallpaper/Bull-Fighting/15.jpg«If you could go back in time and relive one moment, so you could do it differently, which would it be?” Mike asked his grandfather a question that he had thought about a million times before. It was a seemingly easy question; one which, however, was very difficult to answer. Because, really, if you were given the chance, would you want to have a do-over?

Grandfather Joe thought about it for a few minutes before answering.

“I’ll tell you a story,” he said.

“There was once a young boy. He was raised in a poor family and began to work from a very young age. He was imbued with the mentality that that is what people should do – earn their living in any way possible. So he worked in various jobs – from farming, to sheep-herding, to a cabin boy, to a waiter, to a teacher, to an office assistant. He did whatever he could find, because he believed this was the best way to earn experience.

One day, a renowned matador came to his village. He offered a bull fighting show, which gathered the entire village into the town square and at the end of it, he made a very interesting proposition. He said that he would give a tonne of gold to the person from that village who would be able to subdue the bull. Everyone had seen that the bull was very aggressive, and indeed very tough. No-one deemed themselves capable of such a feat. But the young boy stood up and declared he was up for the challenge. “I’ll do it,” he said decisively. The villagers gasped. They were certain he would be devoured by the bull in no time. But, at the same time, they were all intrigued to see what would happen.

So the boy stepped into the middle of the town square. He took the matador’s symbolic red cloth and waved it in front of the raging bull. The latter was snuffing air out of its nostrils, shaking the ground as it prepared to attack. The boy swerved as the bull scraped past the cloth. The animal became angrier. It missed again and again. Its rage increased with every miss. But the boy remained composed and continued. To the audience’s amazement, he then dropped the cloth and allowed the bull to run straight into him. But the minute the bull lowered its head, protruding its horns, the boy swiftly grabbed them and in an acrobatic move jolted himself above the bull’s head and onto its back. The bull-fight quickly turned into a rodeo contest with the bull kicking and screaming angrily at the unwanted rider. But the boy then struck a nerve on the bull’s neck with a sudden move of his right hand, and the rage abruptly ended. The village square sunk into silence. The boy climbed down the bull’s back, as if he was dismounting a horse. He approached the dumbstruck matador and asked calmly “may I please have that tonne of gold now?”.

The matador was amazed. The villagers broke into loud cheers and applaud. The matador was forced to keep his word and handed over the tonne of gold, but he asked the boy the one question that was on everyone’s mind: “how did you do that?”

The boy responded calmly, “I have done so many things in my life, things which many consider are demeaning or unworthy, but I regret none, because everything has taught me something and most of all I have learnt that you need to grab every opportunity that presents itself at that precise moment because it may never come again”.

“So,” concluded the grandfather, “to answer your question, if I lived again, I don’t think I would do anything differently. It’s not about regretting the things you did. It’s about regretting the things you didn’t do when you had the chance”.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: If I could turn back time

The unreachable star

star on top of mountainEver since Joe was a child, he knew what he wanted to do and was determined to accomplish it. He spent days and nights looking out of his window gazing over the hill at that star that shone so brightly it was visible even during the day. It seemed so unique, so magnificent, that he was sure there was something extraordinary about it. If he could just get closer to it, he might figure out what it was.

When he became of age, Joe set off to climb the hill. He didn’t know how long it would take, as the hill turned out to be a mountain once he got closer to it. It’s funny how distance is so deceiving, he thought; it makes it all seem smaller and closer than they truly are. Nonetheless, Joe did not lose hope. He wanted to reach the star and made it his ultimate purpose.

As he climbed the mountain, setting his own pace, he came across little animals whom he befriended as much as possible, rare flowers and rural beauties. They were all things he had never seen before and that made them even more special. Days passed and Joe was still climbing. He could see he was quite high now, as the view of the town below became spectacular. The wind was also getting colder as he climbed and he could sense the oxygen levels dropping.

One night, he almost froze, but just before the crack of dawn he woke up staring into two big blue eyes. Her name was Jill. She lived in the mountains and had golden hair, which she had tied into two dreadlocks either side of her small round head. She was mesmerizing, kind and sweet and had saved him from freezing. The blanket she had covered him with was made out of sheepskin and she had also brought warm soup in a natural flask. Her family knew how to survive in the mountains, and so did she.

It wasn’t long after he described his quest that Jill announced she would accompany him. Joe was delighted. After all some company was more than welcome, and he could not have asked for anything better than this.

More days passed and these probably turned into months too. But the mountain top still seemed far away. Jill began to lose hope, something she said she rarely ever did. Joe tried as much as possible to console and revive the feeling of excitement he had seen in her eyes when he first described his mission. But to no avail. Jill became sick and decided she could no longer carry on. She turned away with tears in her eyes as she began her descent back home. Joe was once again left alone.

The star was shining brighter than ever.

It may have been a month, it may have been a year. Joe finally reached the summit. The view from up there was incomparable to anything he had ever seen. He was literally standing on top of the world – at least the one he knew about. It was amazing, and he had managed to reach his destination. He was proud of his accomplishment. Until the time he looked up.

The star was still far away. And it even seemed to be at the top of the adjacent mountain. Joe could still not discern what made it glow so brightly and so exquisitely. Perhaps he should go and climb the other mountain now. He thought about all he had learned and experienced during his ascend. He had witnessed more natural wonders and had learned more about survival and personal quests than most people would manage in a lifetime. Yet now the only way forward was down. So he sighed, and began his descend. Maybe the answers would be found there.

As he slowly climbed back down the mountain, he kept looking back and staring at the star shining behind him. What was the lesson to be gained out of all this? he thought. And then it struck him. No matter how far you climb, some things are always unreachable. It is the journey that will teach you the lesson. Yet it is always disappointing to realize that your initial goal cannot be accomplished. Sometimes, though, all you can do is go and start over, hoping that this time you will find a target closer to your reach.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Envelope Pushers

Turn away and slam the door

halloween-cupcakes-e1288184827127Melody was a bit of a hippie at times. She had days were she would only listen to country, and then others when she would abruptly switch to rock – it was exactly like that song said. But mood swings are apparently fitting to every woman, so that wasn’t strange. What truly suffocated Melody though, was the fact that some days she did not feel like singing at all.

It was the days when she felt her frustration with the world mounting inside of her, like a volcano ready to erupt. And it was precisely for that reason that she loved Halloween. Because she could really let it all go.

This year she was invited at a friend’s house for a Halloween party. Costumes were mandatory, and the entire house and yard were decorated with scary face-pumpkins with little candles glowing inside, as well as cobwebs, witch brooms, skeletons and the like. People apparently really like to be scared.

So Melody put on her cowgirl shoes and a western-style hat, but added a touch of Halloween to her makeup – she painted a bullet hole on her left cheek, one that left blood dripping onto her shirt. It was something that left many people impressed at how real it looked. One person even offered to find the first aid box for her.

Melody had been fired from her job this week, finding out the truth behind the saying that even if you work perfectly for 364 days a year, the slip-up on that one day is all you will be remembered for. So tonight, Halloween marked a new beginning too. A time to stop being the good girl she had to be, and conceal her feelings. Staying frozen in one place for too long, would just allow others to strike harder, she thought. So tonight it was time to let it go, turn away and slam the door. And that is exactly what she did.

Halloween enabled her to let her hair down, wear exactly what she wanted and ignore everything that was simply not going her way. After all, tonight was about remembering all those that are no longer with us, and they certainly would not want her depressed about something she has no power over. For Melody, Halloween served as a reminder, that we should enjoy life in its fullest, because it really is too short.

So go on, treat yourself to a festive cupcake and let it all go.

Happy Halloween!

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: No Time to Waste

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