This is a photo of a simple ‘car’ made by a child at a local primary school. The competition was to make a ‘car’ which would travel the fastest. Most children came up with big things, made with big wheels and bits of wood and metal (obviously helped by their parents). Of all the entries, this simple thing made of two wheels and a soda can won the competition.
Looking at this, I had to laugh. It was lesson to me about how we over-complicate things, how we add stuff that we don’t need, how we get so much into competing that we forget to enjoy ourselves and that the simplest things are always the easiest. Like water that travels down to form a great river, taking the easy course, running over obstacles- life is about about being ‘easy’.
Of course, the simple and the easy require a lot of thoughtfulness, fun and the absence of the ego. This child probably spend a lot more time thinking than doing, a lot more time being than making and having a laugh!
It also reminded me of the mental chatter than runs in my head all the time- ‘It is going to be hard, people are going to hate me, it is going to fail, etc’. The winning child probably did not have this mental block holding him back. This photo will always remind me of taking it easy and thinking it is easy, then it will be! If you have not heard this TED talk by Jon Jandai, then it is worth listening to-
From my last post, you will read that I bought two books after a lot of thought because I have been trying to decrease the numbers of books I have, not increase them. These two books have turned out to be quite amazing, just right for me. They go to show that when you buy something with thoughtfulness, then it truly is the right thing for your life.
I am writing about the first book- ‘Works of Henry David Thoreau’. I love his writing- ‘Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars.” Pure poetry in that prose!
However, it was not just Thoreau’s writing that captured my attention. That book had been a gift to someone visiting India (I am from India!) from his parents. On the frontispiece which I have photographed above were these inscriptions and I reproduce them as they might be too small to read. The mother had written, ‘I hope you will enjoy the readings of Thoreau and through his writing, gain a better understanding of his words, “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.” ‘ The father had written, ‘Open the book anytime and read anywhere in it. Just read a line or two; it is not necessary to do more than that. Thoreau’s words are as timely today as when he wrote them. If you do that you too will soon possess the more perfect Indian wisdom.’
Perhaps the son was going to India in search of spirituality and wisdom. Perhaps his life was complex and difficult. Perhaps he was nervous. Perhaps he did not like to read too much or he would not have enough time. His parents were worried about the journey and gave him this book as reminder of their love and encouragement. How beautiful! Even more beautiful that this book came my way as a reminder, ‘Open the book anytime and read anywhere in it. Just read a line or two; it is not necessary to do more than that!’ I am doing just that- thank you to the parents and the son who made this possible for me.
Today I woke early and did everything slowly and got to my appointment early! Most of my life, I have tried to get to appointments either just on time or a little late, so that I don’t ‘waste’ time. I realise not only is it such a stupid way to go about life but also disrespectful to the person who is waiting. Because I got to the appointment early, I was able stand outside and enjoy the warm spring sunshine, listen to the birds and see the colours around me. I had the time to be kind- I held open the door open, waiting for a woman struggling with pram and another child and she was so grateful for such a small thing. I could smile at people and greet them. In the past, I must have walked past people so many times without even noticing them.
Most religions have a way of acknowledging these simple things in life- gentleness, kindness and thoughtfulness. These qualities are much appreciated in our hurried world today, precisely because they are in short supply. So if one can cultivate these qualities, that person will be a very attractive one- I don’t mean just physically attractive. Following our hearts also means finding time to develop these qualities and stop looking inwards. Julia Cameron says in her book, The Sound of Paper, “We learn to stop watching the inner movie- the movie of ‘How am I and how is my brilliant career?’ – long enough to take a lively interest in the people and things around us.”
These little things of the heart that we stop noticing may be exactly what we need to follow our careers. Sometimes, I have done things for people that I thought were too small, just good manners but I have been repaid many times with kindness and gifts. Think about how ‘rich’ our communities would be if everyone did that. As Henry Miller says, “Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.”