Unfinished Business

It’s been a while since my last post. Things got pretty busy, and I didn’t have much time for the finer moments of life. Recently, I heard a tale about a lady who went seeking for some good old eastern wisdom. The energy of her twenties took her on adventurous trips in many eastern countries. On one particular trip, she met a man who revealed to her all that she wanted to hear about wisdom and the secrets of leading a good life. She was excited but didn’t have the patience to learn. So she kept traveling in search of an inner connection but never stayed long enough to experience true wisdom.

Soon, she went home to the West, married and had children. Thirty years passed. She was now divorced, old and a little frail. She thought often of her travels to the east. One day, she decided to take a few months off and find her wise teacher. Her journey led her through the winding roads of the  lower Himalayan terrain. She reached a village she faintly recognized. After asking around, she finally found the hut of a master. She was ready to learn and apply the wisdom she had only heard about thirty years before. Unlike the fresh energy of her youth, she was now burdened with heavy emotions and unhappiness. Her desire was strong, but the time she had spent living her banal life had taken its toll. She had neglected her inner voice for too long. She now yearned for wisdom. She knew she was on the brink of achieving it last time but she was lured away by youth. It wasn’t going to be easy this time around. But she had to attain what was left unfinished. It could not wait any longer, and she wasn’t going to push it off till tomorrow. Bliss had to be now.

She entered through a small door and slowly peered inside. Her voice quavered with desperation, ” I am ready.”

Her master smiled, “What took you so long?”


The Perfect Synonym

Image source: by Axinia

If peace had the perfect synonym, what would it be? As I munched on Cheerios one sunny morning, I reflected on the answer for a while. I wondered what a room full of university students would say or what doctors, lawyers and writers would say. I’d imagine, they wouldn’t agree on the same term.

“Relaxation!” some overworked students would say.

“Stability!” the doctors would reply.

The lawyers would stand up and state, “Reconciliation, of course!”

Politicians may equate it to votes and shrewd maneuvering, and entrepreneurs may convince you that peace is a product that may be bought.

Musicians may lean toward the calming effect of music, and writers would say, “It’s really too complex to fit into a single synonym.”

Maybe it isn’t that complicated. Peace is more than an abstract word. It’s a state, a happening… a sort of nectar I enjoyed one sunny morning as I slipped into… meditation. There’s the perfect synonym…

The Harmonium, a South East Asian Instrument

“Music is the language of the soul,” reads an inscription on a wall at the MIM in Phoenix. The roughly 180,000 square foot museum features musical instruments from around the globe, a first of its kind in the U.S.

From ornate stringed instruments of the east to rustic drums of Africa and South America, the museum seems to unite one of man’s oldest passions—music. Despite the varied shapes and sizes of the instruments, a melody or rhythm is possible. As I studied the collection, I wondered if the instruments perhaps mirrored the  diversity in our human race. With so many nationalities, races, religions and philosophies, human beings certainly have their share of variety too. Yet, our differences don’t seem to orchestrate a melodic tone. Instead, our ways have collided and clashed throughout history, bringing chaos and war instead of unity. Fine tuning our instruments to the rhythm of our spirits may be the key to our oneness. If music really emanates from the soul and has managed to tie an aspect of our lives, perhaps we still have to touch the high notes that’ll bind us all together forever.

Try a little soul searching at the MIM in North Phoenix www.themim.org :

Kitchen Connection

image source: livingetc.com

Do you have a favorite kitchen knife? I do, and it’s elegant, slightly angular and very effective. In fact, my husband has one too. It’s massive, heavy and almost as handy as a tool. Honestly, his knife is quite scary, but it does the job. It’s great for cutting meats and, it even brings back “fond” memories for my husband.

A few days ago, inspired by our kitchen knives, we conversed while preparing to grill.

“I must have been a butcher in my last life,” said my husband enthusiastically, while chucking chunks of raw chicken into a large marination bowl.

I chopped herbs and garlic for the marinade, and our chicken was ready for the grill. While waiting for the meat to cook, I mused over the sharpness and versatility of our knives.

Kitchen knives can get so much done! They’re easy to clean and don’t occupy much counter space either. I believe I’d met someone who shared similar traits–efficient, not fussy and very versatile. Indeed, it was a former guest. She was visiting from out of town. She stayed with us for a couple of days but you wouldn’t know. We hardly felt her presence. She never demanded anything and always tried to help around. When she noticed we were out of milk, she would bring us some. When we pleaded with her to get some rest, she would say, “I’m never tired.” Her qualities were manifold. Of course now she isn’t around. She’s moved to another country. Maybe those who meet her there could imbibe some of her nobility.

While here at home in Arizona, it’s back to our kitchen and our no-fuss kitchen knives.


My husband and I often wondered about our very young Bougainvillea plant. “Is it dead or alive?” or “Does it need more water?” We could never figure it out until one winter morning when my mother-in-law, who was visiting, decided to see for herself. She had always been great with plants and took to gardening and smartening-up our backyard during her stay, which was much needed!

That winter morning the Bougainvillea caught her attention, and she walked over to inspect the plant. It was dry, leafless and without a sign of life. She decided it was dead and with her gloved hands, she tugged at it hard so as to weed it out. Inside the house, we were clueless about the happenings until she walked in puffing slightly, “I’ve finally uprooted that dead plant!”

We told her she shouldn’t have exerted herself and could have called for our help, but she was quite satisfied with the accomplishment and so were we. We went out to see our backyard all neat and tidy. The Bougainvillea seemed to hold together despite being uprooted, and we left it there for weeks not bothering to trash the plant. Months passed, my in-laws were long gone, and our backyard became a mess–a dwarf orange tree in much need of nutrition, a baby saguaro needing transplanting, two potted rose bushes needing water and a lemon grass plant growing out of control. The winter grass needed care too, and of course the Bougainvillea mess had to go. We decided it was time to sort things out in the backyard and began the long but satisfying process. Soon, our backyard came alive with color. The last thing left was cleaning up the bougaenvilea.

As we approached the plant, we noticed some green. Looking more closely, we even saw a fluorescent pink flower or two. “How did this plant survive being uprooted, not watered and neglected for months,” I though to myself. “This is crazy!” But the evidence was there before us. The Bougainvillea was alive and flowering! So we decided to let it be.

Soon, summer was upon us. The desert sun shone brightly through the clear blue skies, and the bougaenvilea thrived under its relentless watch. As I observed the blooming plant, I remembered an advice I’d almost forgotten, “Nature has much to teach us.”

Despite all the neglect, the Bougainvillea came through strong, and despite the desert heat, it gave us flowers, adding bright hues to an otherwise sandy desert palette. How many of us can survive being scorned or neglected by friends? And despite that, how many of us can resist anger or depression and develop our personalities well, so society is benefitted? The answer isn’t important, but the lesson is.

Nature teaches us strength and survival. If our roots are deep like the Bougainvillea, we too can bloom into beautiful human beings. If we strengthen the roots of our hearts and listen to our spirits, then no matter what calamity befalls, it does not affect us. We remain content within ourselves always.

“Weapons cannot cleave it, nor fire consume it, nor water drench it, nor wind dry it.”

This is the quality of our spirit, and perhaps we can imbibe it by observing the omnipresent miracles of nature.

let the roots grow deep

When the earth is silent, the roots grow strong. source:www.sahajayoga.at

When the very earth you trust starts to tremble and shake, and the walls of your home crumble to pieces before your eyes, it can be hard to feel anything but terrified and uncertain of the future. This is perhaps a glimpse of how survivors from Haiti and Chile must have felt. If the basis of our living is in jeopardy, there can be no progress of any kind. People live out on the streets unsure if the worst is yet to come. Food is in shortage, and looters are at large. Chaos spreads its unnerving cloak, leaving no room for peace and understanding. But thanks to the generosity of many around the world, survivors are hopeful, and the likelihood of restoring peace is real. When a society is content, it progresses into a better and healthier body. The key to any chaotic situation is in finding a way to restore the calm.

While this may sound obvious, it is hardly practiced in our lives. Many of us can’t stop the havoc created by our minds. We worry and plan, constantly thinking of the next agenda without pause. We miss out on the moment before us and live in our future or past. Our minds are in turmoil, and we can’t stop the thoughts. In a way, it is as though an earthquake has hit, and we aren’t equipped to deal with the nightmare.

If we can’t be peaceful, how can we progress? It is only a peaceful society that grows rich and strong. A tree cannot grow in an earthquake. It’s roots will grow deep only when the earth is settled. So, even though we may be miles away from Chile, let’s not take peace for granted. Let’s welcome it into our hearts and minds, and let unnecessary thoughts fade away so that we are able to be in the moment where we are needed most.

A silent and composed personality is much more beneficial to the society. When others are troubled and agitated, such a personality is capable of soothing and comforting others. But if we cannot develop innate peace, how can we bring peace around us? If others are crying, rather than taking care of them, we would also be crying. So, let’s strengthen ourselves and our personalities by establishing a peaceful temperament not only for ourselves but also in our work and for our families, our cities and beyond our borders.

A Seashore Story

Her feet had set tiny patterns into the wet sand, which were soon washed away by the inevitable rhythm of the waves. She made her way to the sand castle she had built a day earlier only to find it in ruins. It didn’t matter to her. With her plump little hands and plenty of sand, she got to work again. An hour or two passed before she finished her fifth sand castle of the week. She rubbed her hands together sending chunks of dirt into the air and finally stood up to admire her work.

“Mommy,” she yelled, her sounds somewhat muffled by the intermittent breaking of waves.

She waved and then ran closer and yelled again. This time her mother heard.

“Look at my castle, Mommy. Isn’t it pretty?”

Her mother, Lisa, had plenty of praises. The little girl danced around her castle, adding little bits of sand here and there to shape the walls or adjust the size. Lisa watched, knowing that in a couple of hours the castle would go under water.

Her daughter seemed to read her mind, “The big sea is going to take you. So goodbye pretty castle.”

She patted the sand down while her mother wondered how her daughter could remain so detached. After so much effort, she was ready to leave it for the sea to destroy. Lisa couldn’t imagine the other children in the city being without their toys. When she was not on holiday, Lisa managed a daycare and the children were not an easy lot. They wanted new toys and new games becoming sick of their old ones. She could understand because she did similar things. Lisa booked the family on a beach holiday because she was sick of work and home. She was even tired of her not-so-old laptop and had been looking out for the next thing.

“The new is only new for day,” she thought introspectively.

Here was her daughter who played the same old game everyday, and the mighty waves would devour her tiny creation. But she built the castles again and again, enjoying each second. On the other hand, here was Lisa dissatisfied with her work and with her home routine. She craved for new experiences but soon grew weary of them.

If fancy places, flashy gadgets and exotic foods do not satisfy, then the answer can’t be in material wealth Lisa thought to herself. Her little girl never cared for any of these. She remained happy with herself wherever she was. The answer is her self. The inner self. For the spirit, nothing is old and boring. Each day is a fresh beginning, and every moment is one of joy.

Lisa closed her eyes. A light ocean-bound breeze enveloped her being and drifted away.

When she opened her eyes, she couldn’t tell whether her heart expanded into the ocean or the ocean became her heart. She felt one with the nature and in tune with her spirit. Her daughter tugged at her and slipped a coiled shell into her mother’s hand.

“The water gave us a gift,” she said pointing ahead.

For her daughter it was a game, but Lisa knew she had found a special peace that day. She hugged her daughter tight and thanked the sea, for she couldn’t contain her gratitude. The two prepared to return home. She walked away from the ocean leaving behind her worries and attachments. The waves receded toward the setting sun, and then splashed on the shore washing their footprints away.