MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “life lessons”

Everywhere and nowhere

https://cottagelife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/3034764-slide-s-20-tk-of-the-worlds-most-jaw-dropping-rural-cabins-and-hideouts.jpgThere is a ‘dare’ going around online, prompting you to consider if you could live in an isolated cabin without internet or TV for something like six months. The prize would be one million dollars (or euros or whatever your currency is). To some this seems like torture. It is an unthinkable feat not designed for the modern age. Because nowadays our mobile phone runs out of battery and we run around in panic like headless chicken searching desperately for a charger, something that will keep us connected to the (virtual) outer world.

The problem is that a few decades ago, people did survive without internet and TV. In fact, they probably had a better quality of life too. We don’t appreciate that, let alone acknowledge it.

We feel the urge to be everywhere at once, to do everything even when it is beyond our capacities. We want to show that we are around, doing things, being places. But in the process, we are everywhere and nowhere. We do things simply to cross them off our lists, or to post them online, or simply for the sake of doing them. We don’t enjoy them, though. We don’t revel in what we’re doing. We drive and think of the other things we need to do in the day. We go on a trip and consider what we need to do when we get back. We dream of holidays but don’t experience life.

It is a shame. Because in the age where anything is possible, where we have the infrastructure, resources and technology to do so many things to help us move ahead, we choose to remain backward. Both in mind and in society as a whole.

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Admitting to the problem

https://img.fotocommunity.com/sehnsucht-nach-meer-e5071e7c-1c5a-4ce7-88e1-8e87a1f6e2ce.jpg?height=400They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. In fact, it is true that more people would learn from them mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them. In the same light, in order to begin to find some peace of mind, we need to acknowledge that we have none.

In our modern age, being (too) busy is a problem. But the thing is, we think that it is a privilege, an asset, or even something to be proud of – we actually boast of being busy. Of not having time for anything, not even of living.

We have lost touch of the things that matter. Instead of talking to each other and trying to help one another, to learn from each other and mutually improve, we have become so competitive that what dominates our relationships is hypocrisy and shallowness.

What is more, we don’t know how to relax anymore. We have become so obsessed about constantly having something on our minds and in our hands that we turn into inexplicably nervous freaks when we are faced with “doing nothing”. Keeping calm is not a concept the modern world understands. Yet, we so love to cant about it everywhere, we have drawn numerous gifs and images and posters and anything you can imagine, that begin with “keep calm and…”.

Let’s face it. We have become a troublesome kind. We are so afraid of being left out of pretty much anything that we create trouble where there is none, do things we don’t really want to do, and adopt styles that don’t fit us simply because they are the current trend. In the process, we choose to follow the crowd than stand out in our own unique way. And, like everyone else, we criticise or adore whoever and whatever is ‘in fashion’ at the time.

We don’t think anymore. And that is perhaps the most pitiful and severe problem of us all.

The lure of a bookstore

https://s26162.pcdn.co/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/bookstore-slide-2MCD-superJumbo.jpgFor Martia, walking into a bookstore was like walking into a magic realm. In the words of Jen Campbell, “you see, bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are simply put, the best of places”. In fact, she could hardly ever walk into a bookstore and not leave without buying something.

Martia’s life revolved around books. She loved reading, wrote a blog about books and worked as an editor in a publishing company. She lived and breathed books.

Yet, ironically, she could not find the words to describe how much she adored these tomes of paper. As environmentally-unfriendly they were, there was nothing like the smell that transpired when flicking the pages of a new book. Used books also held their secrets gripped within their pages. Because no one could read a book and remain the same person.

Martia had learned to appreciate even more people who read. Not on an electronic device, but the actual paper copy. Books, she said, made our minds sharper, life more exciting, they lift your spirits, lower your stress levels and make your heart more compassionate. Books always had something new to say. And there is a book on almost anything by almost anyone. What you should be careful to do is pick out the right copy – find the book that says something, in language worthy of the paper it is printed on, that makes you think and makes you want to change things.

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking” – Jerry Seinfeld

Be the chess player

chess-eyes

©Jeff Arnold

Chess is a game of tactics. One where forethought wins. It embodies life skills.

That’s why her grandfather taught her how to play since she was only a child. He said a chess game resembles life in that you shouldn’t waste even a single move.

At first she could never win a game. But like a Japanese proverb says, “we learn little from victory, much from defeat”.

Every movement of the chess pieces had to be carefully planned. It required independent and cautious thinking. She learned to move in silence and only speak when it was time to say ‘checkmate’.

 

Chess helps you to concentrate, improve your logic. It teaches you to play by the rules and take responsibility for your actions, how to problem solve in an uncertain environment” – Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov

 

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

The language of communication

language-barrierIt’s a strange feeling not being able to communicate due to language barriers. It’s something like feeling helpless and incompetent; as if somehow you are found wanting in certain circumstances. However, this is not always your fault.

Barry found himself abroad on his first trip in years. He had finally overcome his fear of flying – as much as possible to be able to take a quick trip to the neighbouring country he had heard so much about. The target was to relax and get away for a couple of days. To regroup and return stronger and rejuvenated.

But instead… the opposite occurred.

There are some people who see it as a matter of nationalistic pride to refuse to speak in a language other than their own. No matter how much their economy needs tourists, they do not seem to care to put on a smiling face or to even demonstrate the minimum amount of courtesy. In their view, they are not paid enough to serve others. At least not the way they should – politely and brightly. They see foreigners as intruders that come to disrupt their own routine and who inconveniently what things done differently. So many even refuse to speak to them in a language different than their own, one that is universally understandable.

Barry had never faced a similar situation before. In the seven languages he spoke, he always had one way or another to talk to almost every one he met. But here, everything was different. It was almost a stubbornness, a not wanting to communicate. They spoke in their language and their interlocutor could simply sense the tone. Or see the gesture. S/He would get the point sooner or later.

Barry felt unwanted. It was very bad to feel so inhospitable in a country you invested money into going. You were injecting cash into their economy, the least they could do was show they appreciated it.

In the end, relaxing was not as much as trying to remain calm. The best he could do was acknowledge that he was not going to be the one to alter an entire mentality or culture. Being upset about things you can’t change won’t help. All you can do is decline to fall to their level, and maintain your own dignity.

 

The luck of a four-legged friend

©MCD - Tiger2018

©MCD

Everything happens for a reason, they say. Some say it is usually the reason you want to believe they happen.

When you come to think of it though, it’s the smallest of things that make the greatest impact on your life. The simplest of gestures, a few words of kindness, the smallest of beings.

For this latter, it is strange how – if you are an animal lover – your whole being lights up at the mere sight of one. Your mood instantly changes. As if you suddenly realise how trivial everything else is. Like Schopenhauer said: “Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man”. In a similar light, Anatole France stated, “until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remain un-awakened”.

The best part of having a pet as a companion, a roommate and a friend is that you will receive twice-fold (or more) the love you offer it. If you are as lucky as to have a four-legged creature in your home and your life, you will know what it is to find joy at the simplest of things, how to relax by merely a pet or a hug, how the warmth of a purr can take away all your stress, and how to love unconditionally.

It is only when that love that taught you about life is lost that you fully comprehend its importance. It is that unbearable void that is left behind upon a pet’s departure that makes you acknowledge how lucky you are to have been a part of their life and to have had the honour to have them choose you as their partner during their brief passage from this earth.

We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals” – Immanuel Kant

Our purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them” – Dalai Lama

Pets are bundles of love wrapped in fur”

Seeking courtesy

http://www.hemantlodha.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Honestly-Be-Polite-62.jpgCommon courtesy – the act of being polite in even the meaningless of situations – is a trait we all have, yet very few choose to use. Take for example any phone call you make to any service, public or private. Or every time you walk into a store or an office seeking assistance. You are almost always left wondering if people simply like to be rude. If it is innate or if it comes to them more naturally than simply being kind or, at the least, fundamentally polite.

Nothing is ever lost by courtesy. It is the cheapest of pleasures, costs nothing and conveys much” (Erastus Wiman).

There is a saying that “courtesy is simply doing unto others what you would like them to do unto you”. Yet it all comes down to one simple thing: upbringing.

Our behaviour is an aspect that we obtain first by mimicking and then by observing and repeating what we see around us. It is a reflection of what we are taught and how we are raised. Of what our society and culture represent. Hence, having manners and being polite is something that makes us shine, to put it simply. The opposite easily places us on someone’s list to avoid.

Being well-mannered does not cost much. Just turn the frown into a smile and say a kind word. What you will get in return will be gratification alone. And everyone will be left in a happier mood. Isn’t that worth it?

“Politeness is a sign of dignity, not subservience” (Theodore Roosevelt).

Counting life

http://aleurerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/shades-of-life-Aleurer-Blog.jpgWe wake up looking at the clock. By the time we open our eyes, we’re already stressed that we might be late for something. Before we even realise what day it is or even where we are, we begin counting to see if we have time.

We spend most of our day like this. Calculating. Looking at the clock. Stressing.

Our heads are filled with perceptions about what needs to be done at what time. The fact that we might be late as per our age for some things adds more stress. The same if we are early. It seems that either going too slow or too fast in life is always frowned upon. Everyone will always have something to say. That’s just the way human nature is.

But we all have our own rhythms. And that is the pace we should live by.

Like Einstein said “not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that is counted truly counts”.

Powerfully stated by Jay Shetty in this short video to watch when pressure is mounting, you need “to be able to create meaningful, purposeful, fulfilling lives for yourselves and learn how to use that to make an impact and a difference on the lives of others. That would be true success”.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people say or think. All that matters is how you are.

The truth about memories

https://news.cnrs.fr/sites/default/files/styles/visuel_principal/public/assets/images/129714169-72dpi.jpg

In those moments when you stop and just listen to yourself breathe, what passes through your mind? In those instances when the answer to “what are you thinking” is sincerely “nothing”, what is it that occupies the images in your head?

Often, it is memories. Past experiences, feelings, sensations, things we lived, saw, said.

The truth about memories is that you choose to remember them. You select which ones you carry around with you.

They are usually the happy ones; the ones from your childhood playing carefree with your parents and siblings without any problems hovering above you. It’s those instances that are filled with heartfelt laughter and genuine love. True unconditional deep-down mind-blowing good times.

But there are also the painful ones. The memories that have scarred you. That have broken you and showed you that you are stronger than you then thought because you managed to heal and survive. They are the experiences that have irreparable placed their mark on you. The ones you’ve never truly overcome, either because you’ve not forgiven them or because the hurt serves as a reminder to always be cautious. They are the memories that feel like a punch in the stomach and a cringe in the heart every time they are recalled to mind. But they are too part of what shaped you.

Memories, either good or bad, are part of who we are. They are what cause us to become the personalities we are, with the mentalities we have, the thoughts we carry and the ideas we generate. They are what are responsible for our moods or mood swings, for our optimism or realism, for our cynicism, our hope, our despair, every aspect of what makes us….unique.

The catch, however, is to remember that these memories belong to the past. The present is there for you to create more memories, to live a life worth remembering in the future.

 

Deciphering obscure objects

https://www.google.gr/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=imgres&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjn8a_wuPfdAhXD3KQKHR9mAx8QjRx6BAgBEAU&url=http%3A%2F%2Folhocurioso2015.blogspot.com%2F2015%2F10%2Fcomo-se-forma-neblina.html&psig=AOvVaw0xWhJTnB9Okhc0pQC7eV19&ust=1539108693186256Look at this. Look at it closely. What do you think it is?”

She showed him a picture of an object that was too unclear to decipher. It was oblong with sharp edges. It could be anything really. His mind began to race. The young boy had millions of images in his head as to what that object may be. They were bombarding him like fighter plane missiles.

Here’s the catch,” his teacher told him. “You only have two guesses. So make them count”.

The boy became even more agitated. Only two. The margin of error was too tight.

The object could be anything. How could he make sure he found the right answer?

In his head, he was putting together a jigsaw – placing his imaginary items onto the unknown object and assessing how far it matched.

It was a trial of imagination, of expectation, of prediction.

The task was to understand that very often in life, we imagine one thing, we expect another, we make it up in our heads to be that which we think it is, and in the end we end up disappointed when we find out it is something extremely different.

In the end we get hurt from our own expectations, when all we need to do is train ourselves to expect the lowest, even from the places and people we though the highest of.

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