There is Never Nothing Going On

“Mummy”, screamed the child as he craved for some attention from his mother. He has finished his cookies and coffee sitting on a rooftop coffee shop, a favorite of her mother.

“What beta?”, asked his mother as she glanced at him, taking her eyes away from some office work she was just about to complete on her laptop.

“You are busy, and our coffee is finished too. What am I supposed to do?”, said the child, clearly getting bored.

“Just a minute beta. My work is just about to…” She was interrupted before she could complete the sentence.

“There is nothing going on.”

Realizing that her son won’t take it anymore, she closed her laptop, took one last sip from her coffee and asked – “Now tell me son, what’s the matter?”

“It is so boring here mummy. There is nothing going on, let us go home.”, screamed the boy again, attracting the attention of a few people sitting close by.

There is Never Nothing Going On

There is Never Nothing Going On

“Let me tell you something. There is never nothing going on. Just relax for a moment and observe the waiters serving coffee to customers, different set of people leaving and coming in the coffee shop. Also observe the moods of different people, some are happy, some are sad, and look over there – those set of people are certainly arguing about something. Look outside, there are trees of different types. Can you spot the birds sitting on the branches? If you listen, you can even hear their chirping.”

“So what mom?”, asked the boy.

“What I want to say beta is that there is never nothing going on. It is only we who stop listening or feeling. Feel the cool breeze as it comes every few minutes on this side of the cafe. Savor this moment for what it has to offer. And that is why I love coming here and spend some time just relaxing. Never say life is boring, because it isn’t.”

“Hmm.. I guess we get bored sometimes, but life isn’t.”, exclaimed the boy, looking a little perplexed and amused at the same time.

“Great then, let me complete my work now.” And she opened her laptop again.

This time, the boy went over to the road facing side of the roof. I guess he was observing and feeling all that is happening on the road below.

Don’t ask How? Ask Why?

A man was working on his laptop when his mother asked him “Do you want some coffee, I am making for myself?”

“No, mother. I am busy” came the reply.

“Doing what?”

“I am looking at some tips for how to write a book”.

“Ok. Then what will you do.”, the mother asked, looking lost by his software engineer son’s desire to write a book.

“Ah.. I have some vacations coming up too in December. I want to travel outside the country this time. I need to find out how to travel the maximum and see the most places in those 7 days of vacation.”

“But why?”, enquired his mother.

 "There are no right answers to wrong questions." - Ursula K. Le Guin

“There are no right answers to wrong questions.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“Why what?”, the man shot back.

“Why are you writing a book? Why do you want to travel outside the country? And Why do you want to visit a lot of places in 7 days?”

“Hmmm, never thought about it this way”, the man said.

“Then think now. Replace the ‘how‘ in your questions with ‘why‘ and see what happens.” His mom said, explaining further, “The hows will give you answers too, but the whys will give powerful insights about what you really want…”

Like in the above story, we also live most our days trying to figure out how to do this, how to do that? Even when we meet people, we ask them – How did you become popular? How did you get into this job? and so on. If we were to replace the hows with whys, we would get a real peek into who we really are and what do we actually desire. Just changing the hows to whys can make a lot of difference in our lives.

The Cash Counter and the Little Girl

Kids and their curiosity

Kids and their curiosity

“Who will eat these biscuits?”, the little girl asked her mom at the check-out counter of a nearby grocery shop. “Your papa likes them with tea, na, now give it to bhaiya”, she said pointing towards the boy at the counter. “And who will eat these?”, came the follow up question followed by another, “Can I eat them too, are they sweet or salty?”.. Little kids, and their knack of asking questions. I guess it is their way of understanding how this world works..

But standing right behind them in the checkout line, the next thing I saw was the hand of her mom snatching away the biscuit and namkeen packets from the little girl so that they can be billed. “You talk too much, don’t you see we are already late, now keep quite and don’t touch anything”, screamed the mom, clearly frustrated and eager to get out as soon as possible.

Ten more items later, the billing was done, and the mom hurried, with the shopping bags in one hand, and the hand of her little daughter in the other. The girl must have been thinking “What is the hurry, today is Saturday, an off for everyone?”

Obviously she is unaware of the fact that when we humans grow up, we all find it difficult to really enjoy what each moment has to offer. We are all too caught up in the rat race, either thinking about the past or the future, but not about the present. In the above incident, the mom might very well be thinking of her daughter’s school admission, or what to cook for her at dinner, but didn’t have the time to answer the questions which are very much a part of her growing up. We all have been, and are like this mother at different times.

How simple life is as kids? Do what you like. If you don’t know something, ask questions. You don’t know whether the questions sound silly, or no worries. You laugh with others if you see them laughing at you without getting conscious, so no worries again. Even if you realize you’ve done a mistake, you say ‘sorry’ and move on like nothing happened in the first place. You are more interested in what is going to happen the next minute, rather than what happened one hour ago, or earlier today, or yesterday, or years ago. You can get excited by little things like a biscuit or the colors of the your dress, and your expression can change from a smile to a frown to again a smile within five seconds.

But alas, I am a grown up now, and maybe I am not supposed to talk, think or write like this.

Building a New Floor

As I was completing my third round of jogging in the neighborhood park, I suddenly stopped at the sight of a new house just across the park.

Something is different today., I said to myself, as somehow it caught my attention. It certainly had been under construction for some time now, and I remember seeing it on many previous morning jogs too. After pondering for a few minutes, I got the difference – the support beams were gone. The house was standing on its own.

If you are building a new floor, you will need support.

If you are building a new floor, you will need support.

Over the past few weeks, as I went passed this house, it was all messy with wooden logs or beams supporting each floor as it was built. There was mud, rocks and all kind of construction material outside the house, and inside there were only walls with red dirty bricks, and a few workers in dirt filled clothes going about their chores. Everybody walking on the street looked at everywhere but this house. Very frankly, it was not a pretty sight and people turned away from that side of the road while walking.

But today, the beams were gone and there was a layer of cement and white paint on the walls. The front entrance was getting cleaned, and much of the machinery and construction material was gone. Sunlight was coming in from the side and the new floor and walls were reflecting it illuminating the house, giving it a very different look from just a few days ago. And everyone walking on the road couldn’t continue without stopping and glancing at the new beautiful house, admiring it and wishing one for themselves.

Isn’t that the way of life and nature? Everything beautiful ever built was once messy and needed support. I guess the same holds true for great human beings and relationships. As we make different new floors on our life building, we will need the support of beams, we will look like a mess from the outside, and people will look the other way.

But once you finally complete the new floor, everybody will stop by and ask how you did that? Some will say you are lucky, and many will stop and admire you for creating your life the way it looks like. And they will wish they could do the same.

And they can. Everybody can. But then they have to take support of the beams. They would have to be OK with a little mess now and then. They would have to be OK with people seeing the other side when they most need support. Every dream has a price to be paid for. The only question is – are you willing to pay the price for your dream home, or your dream life?

The Strawberry and The Tigers

“Faster, faster”, he said to himself as he ran through the narrow path between the thick forest on both sides. He remembered how his coach used to train him to run fast during college athletic meets. Of course this was no college, and he was sure his coach had never been chased by a tiger.

“Grrr”, the roar of the tiger brought him back to attention, and he started looking for a hideout where the tiger would not be able to go. He remembered the tunnel he had passed some distance ago – “I should have entered it and hid there, and maybe the tiger would have given it a miss.” “But what if the tiger would have followed me and the tunnel had no other end?” – he smiled as he realized it was the right decision to not enter that tunnel.

Are you eating your strawberries?

Are we eating our strawberries? Or do we miss them in the daily grind of life running from our own version of tigers?

His eyes lit up as he saw a steep cliff a little ahead on the left. He changed course and headed for the cliff knowing that he has to climb it down, being pretty sure that a tiger can’t follow him down the cliff. What was even better that the cliff had deep vegetation and thick bushes which he could use to climb down!

He took a strong hold of the bushes and threw himself over the cliff. He could feel his hands getting soaked in blood as he climbed down the bushes. But it didn’t hurt as he finally felt safe. He enjoyed the sight of seeing the tiger roaring at the top but unable to do anything. He continued to climb down, now the bushes were a lot thinner and very soon it was just rock. He saw a rope hanging till the bottom of the cliff, probably left behind by some mountaineer. He caught hold of it and continued his descent, until he heard another big roar.

What made him shiver was the knowledge that the roar didn’t came from above, but from below him. He held onto the rope, and unwillingly looked down, fearing the worst. And there it was, another tiger waiting for him. “What happened to my luck today?” – he thought as he was caught between the two tigers waiting for him. He held onto the rope, now that he had no other option.

Just when he thought things could not get any worse he saw two rats coming out of a tiny opening among the rocks and move towards the rope. In the absence of anything soft to chew on, the rope was a perfect time pass for them. “Oh no, crap..”, he uttered as he tried to move and shake away the rats. But he stopped not knowing the strength of the rope and fearing that it might break faster by his shaking than by being chewed away from the rats.

But as he has moved left and right with the rope to shake away the rats, he saw a beautiful strawberry plant on one side. He paused for a while, and then took the risk of swinging to that side and pluck a few strawberries with one hand. “They look delicious.”, he thought as he looked at them. The next moment he was enjoying the sweet taste of the strawberries in his mouth. “Wow, tastes just as well”, was his joyful expression as he cherished the strawberries in his mouth.