The Box of Dreams

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There was once a village brimming with dissatisfaction. Brothers fought with brothers. Neighbours bickered constantly. Husbands and wives wouldn’t stop arguing. Co-workers refused to get along.

God soon grew fed up with the lot of them and sent his favourite angel in the guise of an old man to resolve their issues. The old man mingled with the villagers and was soon tired of their constant moans and complaints. None of the hapless villagers had anything good to say about the other. The streets, houses and even the village pub were rife with criticisms, complaints and arguments.

The old man was so bored of this, that he decided this was as good a time as any to execute his mission. So he summoned the village elders, and called for a meeting in the public square.

At the designated hour, the entire village turned up in full force. It had been a long time since they had all gathered in the square. The last time had been to lay to rest the head of the village, who had met his end at the hands of his own son.

The atmosphere was thick with curiosity, as the villagers tried to guess what the reason for this sudden meeting could be. The old man made his way to the centre of the square, and gestured the mob to keep silent.

He then asked, “Can any of you tell me why you are so discontent? What causes you to be so unhappy?”

The villagers began talking all at once, such that it was impossible for even a single one to be heard coherently. The old man raised his arm, and said, “Please be quiet.” He pointed to a youth, who was reclining in the corner and asked, “Would you answer this question?”

The youth quietly replied, “We are dissatisfied because we haven’t been able to fulfil our dreams. Our unhappiness with ourselves, causes us to vent our frustrations on each other.”

The old man was silent for a minute. He appeared to be deep in thought. When he spoke, it was as if he were choosing every word carefully. He said, “I have the ability to give three villagers a chance to fulfill their dreams. Who among you would like to fulfil your dreams?”

Who would pass up an opportunity, when presented like this? There was a cacophony of noise as they began speaking over one another. The villagers started clamouring to the centre of the square, almost causing a stampede, in an attempt to gain the old man’s attention.

Fearing that another quarrel would break out, he commanded them to stop creating a ruckus. He then said, “I will choose the three lucky villagers, because I do not want to be the cause of any more quarrels among you.”

He selected a 20 year old youth, a 45 year old woman and a 75 year old man. He then asked them to come the very next day at the break of dawn to the square.

The three excited villagers couldn’t sleep a wink that night. After all, their most cherished dreams were about to come true.

At the crack of dawn, the lucky three made their way to the village square. The first light was cutting through the trees, creating an aura of mystery and hope.

The first thing they noticed was the old man, who stood in the center of the square. In front of him was a big box. He saw them approaching and smiled.

He then began to speak. “Today, you will have the chance to make the best of your dreams come true. Each of you will place two of your most coveted dreams in the box. The box will be shut. I will then summon the eastern breeze and open the box. The breeze will scatter your dreams in different directions. You will have to chase and catch your dreams. Once you catch your dream, it is yours.”

The villagers thought hard about their dreams and finally placed two each in the box. The youth dreamed of a beautiful wife and a successful business. The middle aged woman wanted a grand house and a super-fit body. The elderly man wished to relive his youth and to win a million in the lottery.

The old man, true to his word, shut the box, then opened it and whistled to the eastern breeze. The breeze swooped down and scattered their dreams.

The Youth

The youth gave chase like a man possessed. With the vigour of the very young, he ran, climbed, swam and committed feats worthy of a champion athlete. But his dreams still eluded him. Exhausted with the effort of it all, he stopped at a river and bent down to drink from its cool depths. As he lay resting, a dream floated past him. He put out his hand, but let it go when he realised that it was not his dream. It was the dream of the ‘grand house’. He made a last ditch effort to find his dreams, but was too weary. His final thoughts on the subject were that this was possibly a hoax. He then gave up.

The Middle Aged Woman

The Middle Aged woman couldn’t prance like the young boy. She shuffled along at first, then broke into a slow jog. Years of neglecting her body, had taken its toll. Despite going over some serious ground, she still couldn’t locate her dreams. She grew breathless, and took a break at a nearby well to quench her thirst. As she was drinking thirstily, a dream wound its way to her. Without giving it much thought, she put her arm out and caught it. Alas. It wasn’t her dream. It was the dream to relive youth once again. Tired and somewhat demoralised, she made a feeble attempt to pursue her own dreams, but soon grew bored and gave up.

The Elderly Man

The seventy five year old took off at a slow pace. His steps were unhurried as he tried to catch a glimpse of his dreams. At first, he couldn’t even see his dreams. The breeze had carried them far away from his line of vision. But he kept moseying along slowly. He would take short breaks to replenish his limited reserves of energy. He walked. And he walked. And he walked. But, still no dream in sight. Tired and thirsty,  he stopped at a lake to soothe his parched throat. As he rejuvenated, a dream passed him by. He captured it, almost reflexively. It wasn’t his dream. It was the dream to have a fit body.

Once he had had enough of a rest, he began walking again. He had hardly traversed a hundred metres when he came across two dreams stuck on the branches of a tree. He couldn’t climb, so he picked up pebbles and tried striking the twigs, hoping that they would loosen their hold on the dreams. After a good hour of continued effort, the dreams floated down. He captured them both. It was the dream of a beautiful wife and the grand house.

As he began walking again, he realized that he was able to pace faster this time. His body was getting fitter with every step. He gradually began jogging, and came across an undergrowth thick with shrubs and bushes. After a whole lot of prodding and pushing, he came through to the other side, only to find that another dream was caught in his sleeve. The dream of winning the million dollar lottery.

Ecstatic and joyful, he began making his way back to the village square. As he was about to reach the village square, he caught sight of the woman and the youth, treading cautiously, looking weary and disappointed. He then noticed that following them was the dream of a successful business. He attempted to attract the attention of the boy and the woman, but they were so lost in their own thoughts that they didn’t notice him. Or the dream. He finally snatched the last dream as well.

The three of them had finally reached the village square and noticed that the whole village had gathered there.

The old man asked them if they had managed to capture their dreams.

The youth was the first to speak, “Old man, why did you con us? What is the meaning of this? I couldn’t find any of my dreams. This is a big hoax I tell you.”

The middle aged woman was next, “I managed to catch only one dream and it wasn’t mine.”

The elderly man said, “I’ve had a most interesting adventure. I went in search of two dreams and caught five. This was a great idea, to be sure.”

The whole village began talking excitedly. They wanted to know how this could happen. Hadn’t the old man said that all three would be given a chance to fulfil their dreams? What was the meaning of it all? They told the old man that if he didn’t have a good explanation for this farce of a game, they would imprison him.

He sat down, smiled mysteriously and began :

“The world has changed. The trouble with youth today, is that they have become too cynical. They read books, watch television, listen to the experiences of people older than them and think they know everything. They don’t want to experience for themselves.

The youth in the beginning was full of vigour and energy, but when his dreams were not in sight, he gave up quickly. He was quick to dismiss the whole thing as a hoax. Young people have stopped believing in the magic of dreams and think about everything too practically. They will make an effort, provided they are able to see the results soon. If they do not obtain results in a short timeframe, they abandon the effort and their dreams.

The dream of the grand house did come to him. He could have captured it, but he didn’t. When we are chasing our dreams, our tunnel vision, sometimes causes us to lose sight of other opportunities and blessings along the way.

On the other hand, the middle aged woman, weary with lugging her share of life’s baggage, still made an attempt to capture her dreams. Her lack of enthusiasm and vigour caused her to accept just about any passing dream. With a result, she got a chance to relive her youth and live her life all over again. Certainly not the dream she wanted, but one that she captured unknowingly.

Sometimes, in life, when our trials cause us to scramble around with no direction, we reach out to grasp at a passing straw. This straw may well be what it takes to get us to other good things in our life. In this case, the woman can relive her whole youth again and do everything differently if she wants to. 

The elderly man has lived a fair deal of his life witnessing happiness, sorrows, life, death and has experienced its various nuances. He had nothing to lose when he set out today. He kept going steadily, took time to re-energize and never gave up. When he didn’t see the dream he was looking for, he grabbed whatever he could in that moment. Though he kept pursuing his dream, he never passed up opportunities along the way. 

He was told that he could capture only two of his dreams. But he refused to listen and captured all except the chance to relive his youth. Sometimes, you may listen to people who do not have your best interests at heart or do not sufficient knowledge to know any better.  They may tell you that you are only allowed to do this or that. But nobody has set any boundaries here on earth. You can dream big, dream small and also enjoy the opportunities and blessings that come your way.”

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“At the end, the dream of a successful business was right near the youth and the middle-aged woman. The elderly man tried to bring it to their notice but they were so lost in their own weariness, that he ended up catching that one as well. 

There are times when our dreams are so close to being realized but we are so bogged down in the wearisome task of daily living, that we don’t notice this. Thus, it frequently happens that someone else takes advantage of the opportunity that should have been ours. 

The only dream that the old man didn’t capture, was the dream to relive his youth. But, why would he now want to relive his youth? The life he leads hereon in his grand home with his beautiful wife, a successful business,  super-fit body and a million dollar winnings will be better than he could have ever hoped for in his youth. 

Sometimes our life gets redirected. We may not get everything we had initially set out to gain. But what we do get may be better than what we had planned for ourselves.”

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Asking God for a sign

 

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I’ve been somewhat emotionally disturbed this month. I’ve had some not so great news a month ago, and still trying to cope with the potential repercussions. Though coping gets better with each passing day, and sometimes I’m able to even laugh heartily at jokes and the general camaraderie around me, there are days when I’m suddenly all down and low, and nothing can cheer me up.

I’m trying hard to deal with my issues but I’ve been riding an emotional see-saw. Down one day. Up the next. The other day I was so depressed, that I laid down on my bed, and my thoughts kept turning to my particular situation. I wondered how I could be so happy one day, and so depressed the next.

I noted a pattern to my emotions. What I noticed was that I got more depressed when my thoughts turned to the future. And I was able to be somewhat okay, when living in the moment.

For instance, I would be having a perfectly decent lunch with my colleagues and in general I would be engrossed in the events of the day. But the moment the conversation turned to our future plans, my spirits would sink. This would then kick off a black cloud of depression and anxiety.

This would happen every other day. Eventually, I was so restless, that I went to church and in front of the Blessed Sacrament, asked God for a sign. I asked  Him to show me the way. I begged Him to give me a sign, that He was looking out for me. That He would come through for me. That I would not have to face this alone.

Even after this, I was growing more restive with each passing day. There was no visible change in circumstances and no sign either. I prayed even more fervently for a sign that things were going to turn in my favour. But nothing!!!

I grew so obsessed with this “sign” that I soon began looking for things that could possibly fit into my perception of the “elusive” sign. But I knew in my heart (as we always do) that when God gives you a sign, you can’t mistake it for anything else. Whether it’s a big gesture or a tiny indication, you know instantly.

In the meanwhile, looking for this sign had also made me feel disconnected from God. My restlessness, obsession and continued sense of hopelessness interfered in my prayer time and I found it hard to stay still in God’s presence. I also felt a little annoyed that after all the praying, He wouldn’t do something as simple as show me a sign.

The other day I was reading the Bible, when this line jumped out at me,

Mark 8:12 

“And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ” Why did this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 

Was God trying to tell me something?

But then I also read Isaiah 7:11

“Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; make it deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”

What was He trying to tell me? Why was He giving me mixed signals?

I soon grew exhausted of the whole thing and gave up my quest to spot the sign.

A few days passed and I got into my regular groove of praying, working, reading the Bible and other pursuits. I made the attempt to do some positive things for myself like exercising, reading, writing and connecting more with family and friends. I blocked thoughts of what my future was going to look like and made an attempt to live more in the present.

It was hard in the beginning to make even these minute changes. But it grew easier with each passing day.

Today, I was in church and the service was simply lovely. The sermon was so powerful and the pews were bright were flowers. Finally towards the end, just before the last blessing, the choir played this hymn :

Thy Word (Amy Grant) 

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
When I feel afraid,
And think I’ve lost my way.
Still, you’re there right beside me.
Nothing will I fear
As long as you are near;
Please be near me to the end.
I will not forget
Your love for me and yet,
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus by my guide,
And hold me to your side,
And I will love you to the end.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.
You’re the light unto my path.

 

 

Here was the sign that I’ve been searching for all along.

I was so unworthy, so doubting, so unbelieving. And yet He spoke directly to me today. I realised then, that He hadn’t given me just one sign. There were so many that I missed, because I was so fixated on that one large gesture that I thought would validate His presence in my life.

The very fact that I was still alive, still able to work, pray, live, be with family, breathe fresh air, and awake to a new day were signs that He had always been with me and continues to be with me. He wanted me to look to Him for guidance, but also wanted me to get out of my slumber, take action and help myself.

Should we ask for signs? I don’t know. I asked for one because I was desperate. I can’t tell anyone what they ought to do. All I can say is, signs or no signs, I know and believe that if we persevere in faith, He will guide us to everything that He wants to give us. And it will be bigger and better than what we dreamed for ourselves!!!

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Do you crave a Soulmate Connection?

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The forest screamed with darkness. The rain pelted down unrestrained. Trees bellowed in the stormy wind, whooshing with eerie sounds, enough to wake the dead. The lone woodcutter huddled in a threadbare cottage, filled with memorabilia of a life well lived.

A moth took refuge, petrified by the surge of gusty wind. Lightning flashed in the distance. Thunder decided this was a good time to announce its arrival. The startled moth crept up a decrepit table and launched itself between a cup of half drunk coffee and mealy bread.

A fuse burst somewhere and the cottage was plunged into darkness. The moth shuddered, while the woodcutter scrambled clumsily to find a candle. The candle was found and lit.

Suddenly, there was life. The moth looked up in wonder at the golden glowing ball. Fascinated, it stared as the flame kept changing shapes; high and flickering, soft and steady, round and glimmering. Never had it come across anything so capricious, so utterly captivating.

It couldn’t take its eyes off the flame and flew closer to have a look. The flame caught sight of the moth and smiled shyly, casting uneven shadows across the wall. The moth grew bolder, and flew even closer. The flame danced excitedly, flattered by the attention of this quirky creature.

The moth began circling the flame, and the flame became aware of a rhythmic buzzing sound, that was like music to its ears. They began a dance of their own, with the moth flying closer and the flame flickering breathlessly in anticipation.

Round and round went the moth, in a delirious frenzy. The flame glowed brighter drawing whimsical patterns across the floor. The moth had come so close. The warmth was unbearably beautiful. The flame burned with longing. It implored the moth to keep away. It couldn’t belong to anyone. Except the darkness.

The moth would have none of it. It backed off only to fly even closer to the flame. It looked at the flame with a heart alight with desire. The flame tried to recede, shy away from that gaze heavy with raw passion. The moth now emboldened, waltzed even closer and looked straight at the flame.

The flame blushed, dizzy with rapture. The moth looked around wildly. It could barely see through a haze of flaming fervour. The flame made one last feeble attempt to ask the moth to step back.

The moth, hysterical with ardour, was now only a millimetre away from the flame. While the flame lay wait in flurried arousal, the moth drove itself into it with such force that the flame was put out instantly. The candle stand tipped and fell.

The moth lay besides it burnt to a crisp. The flame was no more.

Two souls burnt to death with a passion that couldn’t be restrained.

Has your soulmate connection felt this way? 

Quick Facts :

There are various interpretations of the moth and flame story. I list a few of the interesting ones below :

  1. In its simplest form, the moth-flame metaphor is a simple allusion to the well-known attraction that moths have to bright lights. The word moth was used the the 17th century to mean someone who was apt to be tempted by something that would lead to their downfall. This is referred to by Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice, 1596: “Thus hath the candle singd the moth.” [ Source : The Phrase Finder]
  2. It is also one of the most adored metaphors in Sufi literature. The moth’s annihilation into the flame has been drawn as an analogy for a seeker in the sufi path who seeks annihilation into Divine Essence.
  3. The moth and flame story is also likened to the process of self-transformation – adopted from the book “Essential Sufism.’
  4. The Bible also likens love for God as a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29: “Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
  5. In the book Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid, Daru reflects on his feelings to towards Mumtaz. ” She’s drawn to me just as I’m drawn to her. She can’t keep away. She circles, forced to keep her distance, afraid of abandoning her husband, and even more, her son for too long. But she keeps coming, like a moth to my candle, staying longer than she should, leaving late for dinners and birthday parties, singeing her wings. She’s risking her family for me, her marriage, her reputation. And I the moth, circling her candle, realise that she’s not just a candle. She’s a moth as well, circling me. I look at her, and see myself reflected, my feelings, my desires. And she, looking at me, must see herself. And which of us is moth and which of us is candle hardly seems to matter. We’re both the same. That’s the secret. “

Relationship Lessons on a Kayak

 

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The breeze was gentle. The mild sea mirrored the deep blue of the sky. The afternoon seemed perfect. A client who specialises in water sport services, had invited a colleague and myself to try our hand at kayaking.

Before I proceed, I have to warn you that this is not a story on what a ripping sport kayaking is. Or its health and fitness benefits (though I’m sure there are many.) Rather, it’s about what I learnt while sharing the kayak with another companion.

We were strapped into a kayak built for two. In the beginning, it was easy going. It seemed simple enough. All we had to do was paddle in unison and edge our way in the direction we chose using the paddles.

The sea was calm, making it easier for two beginners. So we began paddling. Fast and excitedly at fast. A little slower when our arms began to strain. Our elbows and core were soon aching and we found it harder than ever to propel the kayak forward.

The breeze suddenly grew stronger. Our already painful limbs were now miserably overstretched, trying to gain some ground against the wind. If that wasn’t enough, we spotted a wave in the distance, threatening to break right over our kayak. Inspite of the aches and pains, we paddled furiously. But regardless of our best efforts, the wave crashed onto us with all its might.

We almost capsized, but managed to stay afloat by sheer will and some desperate paddling. We had finally had enough. The next minute, we gestured to the instructor and got ourselves and our tortured limbs out of the confounded thing.

I didn’t know at the time that I would carry this experience with me. After all, I’ve had better days.

But off late that memory has crept onto me. Stealthily at first. And then a little more urgently. It’s knocked on the recesses of my quiet time, until I’ve had no choice but to relate it here.

Imagine that the Kayak represents the relationship you have with your significant other. In the beginning, it’s all fresh, new and exciting. Smooth sailing. But once life gets monotonous, the cracks begin to show. Just a minor little strain here and there. Until the strains turn into persistent disquieting pains. And there are more bad days than good. More disagreements. And less hunky dory. The quiet romantic dinners are replaced with grumbling across the kitchen table. The long conversations turn into cold silences.

And when the first crisis hits, things begin to reel out of control. You want to put the paddle down, but you can’t because your partner is tired too. And if you don’t stay afloat, you’ll die. It takes a lot of effort from both sides to keep going. But it’s taken it’s toll on the both of you.

You are just about congratulating yourselves on surviving the first obstacle, when you are hit by a wave of trials, worse than before. An affair, a financial crisis, errant children, sickness, loss of trust, troublesome in-laws. And now you have no idea how or if you’re going to make it.

Even if you want to, you’re not sure your partner does. And if both of you do, you don’t suppose that you have the mettle it takes. All you can do is hold on tight, sometimes in desperation, until the storm blows over.

And when the storm recedes, you have three choices:

  1. You can choose to get off the boat and never get back into one again. You may prefer the solitary exercise of swimming to sailing.
  2. You can choose to stay in the kayak and mosey along until both of you learn to get past those obstacles. Together!!
  3. Or you can choose to paddle with a brand new partner. But you would still be sailing the same old stormy sea.

What about you? If relationships were kayaks, would you sail, swim or sink? 

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Why Client Servicing is a pain in the ****

I began my advertising career as a copywriter (on paper at least!). Since our agency consisted of only four people at the time, I soon realized that this was a “do-it-all” kind of job.

As the days wore on, I was performing all kinds of tasks in varied situations. Including marketing, secretarial jobs, attending to phone calls, accounting, brewing coffee and client servicing as well.

I didn’t mind most of these tasks. What I disliked the most and still do to this day is client servicing. It’s thankless and soul destroying. And that’s an understatement!

For instance, this one time, we were invited for a brief by a client in the Government sector. Actually, my boss took the brief directly from the concerned Government official. This is how it was conveyed to us.

Boss : “The client needs a campaign”

Me : “What should the campaign entail?” 

Boss : “He didn’t say.”

Me : “Does he have a broad idea of what he is looking for?” 

Boss : “I don’t know.” 

Me : “What did he say were his objectives?” 

Boss : “He’s not sure.” 

Me : “Ohhhkay!! So what should we do?” 

Boss : “Just come up with something.” 

So, we began working on a campaign with no idea of what the client was looking for, had no direction and no objectives.

After a week of discussion, deliberation and some very hard work, we developed four creative possibilities.

A meeting was fixed. Yours truly was supposed to lead the pitch.

At the designated time, we arrived at the client’s office. We waited in the reception area for a good three hours before the said client bothered to even acknowledge our presence.

Lethargy descended on my limbs and my colleagues were getting fidgety as well. Finally, after those three long hours, we were informed that the officials were in a meeting and would be with us shortly. “Shortly” turned out to be another hour and a half of cooling our heels.

Finally, after all that time, we were hustled into a conference room with some expensive looking equipment. We set up our projector and display, and got into some modicum of preparedness.

We were then subjected to another wait of some twenty minutes.

Eventually, three officials walked in, looking all important.

As we made to begin our pitch, one of them waved an impatient arm in the air and grunted, “I have only ten minutes. So, please be quick.”

Four collective gulps sounded across the room.

We had only begun running the slides, when he interrupted with,” I don’t want to see any presentation. Just tell me the main idea.”

We related the key ideas behind each of the creative possibilities. As we waited for a reaction, we realized two of the officials were attempting to stifle their yawns (in vain.)

Finally, the third official announced, “This is not what we were looking for. I don’t think it meets our objectives.” 

My heart leaped to my shoes and settled there. My mind was all over the place. “What objectives? You didn’t have any in the first place.” 

He then said, “You’ll need to do some in depth research. Come back to us in two weeks after you have understood our needs properly.”

I decided that this was as good a time as any to attempt some damage control. So I requested him again to give us a detailed brief. I relate the conversation below :

Me : “What should the campaign entail?” 

Official 1: “You should tell us.”

Me : “Do you have a broad idea of what you are looking for?” 

Official 2 : “The campaign should be unique. “

Me : “What are your main objectives?” 

Official 3 : “Give us some time to think.”

Me : So what should we do?” 

Official 1:  “Just come up with something.” 

At some point, I gave up!

 

It’s God’s plan anyway. So, why pray?

 

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It’s Sunday. I’m just back from church and I’m inspired to write this.

For the last eight years, I’ve been a regular church goer. I attend mass on Sundays come hell or high-water. Before that…not so much. Well, I wasn’t an atheist but let’s say that I didn’t really fully “believe”. I would visit at Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. But the rest of the days, I guess I was just an ‘as you like it’  Catholic. Mass was just something to get through. Something I was forced into doing by my parents and other elders in the family.

I didn’t really get it. I had no complaints about my life. Life was ticking along smoothly. There were ups and downs. But I attributed this to the natural course of life. And I had the rest of my life to make mistakes, correct those mistakes and make some more.

I believed that I was a good person. Well, after all I wasn’t an axe murderer or a thief. I had no reason to believe that I was ‘bad’ and needed God’s forgiveness and graces. Even though I didn’t dare say it out aloud, I subconsciously thought that only the unfortunate, the criminals and the desperately broken needed God.

I prided myself on my talents and was convinced that I would make it in life with hard work and intelligence.

Enter Crisis Number One and my whole life went spinning out of control. A situation which was not of my own making, left me with staggering debts and I couldn’t find a way out. I was in such a bad place that I couldn’t bring myself to even confide in my family and friends. It was simply horrible!!

What was even worse was that I was not directly responsible for the situation I was in. I was baffled, disappointed and in utter pain. It’s like my whole world came crashing down. My finances were in a mess. And so was my career.

Eventually, I came back home because there was nothing else that I could do. And I’m ashamed to admit this…but because I could see no option, I turned to God. I began praying fervently. I would see my devout neighbours, family and friends attending retreats, visiting church and making offerings. This inspired me to do the same.

So, I would pray, pray, pray. I would pray all day. Read the Bible. Visit spiritual websites. Ask people online to pray for me. Well, in short, I tried everything.

What I didn’t realise was, that I was praying in desperation. In retrospect, I came to understand that I wasn’t praying from a position of strength but one of weakness. I was praying selfishly. Just so that I could get whatever I wanted from God at that time. I was in a hole and I wanted Him to bail me out.

And what did God do? He rescued me!!!

He really did. He’s wonderful that way. He gave me a life much better than I could have ever dreamed or imagined. He restored my finances, set my career on the right track and gave me a great relationship as well. I was living the life of my dreams, doing the work that I was proud of. Everything was running smoothly.

Up and until the next crisis. This one really left me devastated. I couldn’t wrap my head around what happened. I was doing everything right. I was working harder than ever. Going to church regularly. Not doing anything majorly wrong. Why did I have to face this then? The biggest trial of my life until now.

There wasn’t anyone to blame either. So, I did the ugliest thing that one could ever do. I blamed God. And I haven’t said this out aloud, until now. I didn’t even know I was doing it at that time. But I know now. It’s not like I stopped praying or anything. I did whatever I was doing before. Yet, it wasn’t the same. Something had changed and I didn’t know what it was.

I only recently realised what had actually happened. While I prayed and prayed and then some, I have never really tried to cultivate a relationship with God. I was only praying to meet my urgent needs. It was only..”God, I need this to work in my favour..so please bless me.” ” God, I have an interview today, please give me a positive outcome.” “God, be with me at this meeting”. 

It was always about me!!!

And I have to hand it to God. He did answer many of those prayers. And not because I deserved them.

So I asked for more and more and more. Until He put a very timely stop to this. And tested me.

I’m right now going through one of the biggest trials of my life. It’s tested my faith, my endurance and my perseverance. Yet, this has also been one of the most peaceful times of my life. Because I think I’ve finally understood what God really wants from me.

I am praying through all the pain but it’s different this time. I’m praying with faith, with a certain trueness and quietness that wasn’t there before. I’m not desperate anymore or asking for what I think is the solution to this problem. I’ve only asked God to show me the way, if it is his will for me. I’ve not received a clear answer yet, but I know that He is with me in the little and big things that He does everyday.

I sense his presence when a hymn that means a lot to me is prayed in Church, when a stranger is kind to me for no special reason, when I get that special parking spot when I’m running late. And a thousand other moments, that are too many to mention in this space. And I thank Him for this. Because, He is giving me not everything that I want, but everything that I need in that moment.

So, why pray, if everything is God’s plan anyway?

I can’t claim to know the exact answer to this question. But if I were to hazard a guess, it would be because sometimes He really wants to give us everything that we want. But He also wants us to know the true value of what we take for granted and bring us closer to Him!

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What about you? Do you pray? How does God answer you?

Have you dreamt of a parallel life?

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What are the things that haunt you the most?  Is it the youth that you’ve outgrown? The love that you let go? The people you hurt? Or the people that hurt you?

Is it the career that you could have had if you went the extra mile? Or the extra mile you walked when you didn’t need to, for someone who didn’t value you?

Is it the helplessness you feel when you see your children repeating your mistakes? Or the regret that you didn’t encourage them, when they pursued a dream that was not yours?

Is it the one night stand that you had last month? Or the relationship you could have had, last year?

Is it the dream you let go because you thought it was too hard to reach for? Or the life that you reached for, but didn’t work out in the end?

Is it the spouse you settled for, because the one you really wanted was way out of your league? Or the love of your life you married, but don’t love anymore?

What keeps you awake at night? What niggles at you even when your life is comfortable, nothing seems wrong on the surface, yet if you peel off the layers, everything would potentially come crashing down.

Do you get the feeling that you’re simply existing? Floating from one day to the next. Living a good life. But not a great one.

Do you dream of a parallel life?

I know that I have. I dream of it every other day.

If we had to pinhole our lives into boxes, we would have categories : Career. Love. Children. Travel. Family. Lifestyle.

While I’ve managed to be somewhat happy with the way my career has progressed, I often dream of a parallel life with respect to everything else.

It begs the question. How much of what we are today or where we are today is due to circumstances, things beyond our control? And how much of this is because of the choices we make?

Choice is a strange and powerful thing. The moment you make one choice, it’s often the end of another. And it has the potential to change the course of your whole life.

Have you thought of where you’ll be five, ten or twenty years hence? Look at your choices today. And the sub-choices you’ll probably make tomorrow. And in between, make provisions for life to happen to you along with all its uncertainties.

In short, it’s practically impossible to know where we’re going to be even one year hence. Given that so many things are simply beyond our control.

Can you tell if the one who sleeps besides you at night, will be there a year from now? Or if the job you hold so dear will still be yours? Or if the friends you see everyday will be hale and hearty always? Or the parents that you hardly visit anymore, will be around?

Perhaps, it’s because our lives are a mixed up mess of choices and circumstances, that we so often dream of things that we can never have or could have had.

A friend who often complains of marital problems regrets her early marriage. Yet, her life seems fine on the surface. A wealthy husband, a normal happy child, holidays to exotic destinations and nice clothes. But she complains of a feeling of restlessness. Of wanting more. Being more.

A colleague wishes they had left their fiancee for their first love. Another grumbles of wasting their academic years in meaningless pursuits. Yet another wishes they hadn’t wasted their youth studying for a degree that they now have little use for.

If I could live my life all over again, I would travel more in my early twenties, be more adventurous, take bigger risks, date more, write more and in general, just be braver about living my life.

Are we in fact all restless souls, trying to live many lives in one life?

Do we feel that this life is our last chance? That we may never get to experience all that we think we ought to? Do we always need new stories to give ourselves?

I love what Cheryl Strayed says in her lovely book, 
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who’s Been There

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” 

What about you, gentle reader, have you dreamt of a parallel life?

My first post

Placeholder ImageI’ve thought about blogging. I’ve dreamed about it. And well, I can’t contain myself anymore. I need to just…write. Get it all out.

I’ve thought about how to introduce myself. Nothing seems to sound just right. So, I’m just winging it. Here goes…

I am a copywriter, advertising and branding professional, a presentation designer and a whole lot more. Most of all, I’d like to call myself a storyteller. Because I think that’s where my talent lies in most. Telling stories. Making them up in my head. Discerning the hook. Moving them round and round in my mind, tweaking them and then pushing them out on to presentations, speeches and conversations.

Subconsciously, I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can tell. I use stories to market, to sell, to persuade and to push.

So, here goes. My first post. What am I going to write about? Well, I don’t know just yet. I’m guessing it’s going to be about stories, writing, my life, my spiritual inclinations and a whole lot more. And if it’s not about these; then I’m just going to surprise you.

Till then, if you’ve read this and you’re still tuned, I’d love for you to stick around, keep reading and do write to me if you feel like it.

Your feedback is always valued.

Thanks.

Karen