39

If you think about it, 39 is an interesting number. If you multiply the first digit by itself, you get the second digit. If people reset their age every time they become teenagers, I would have been teenager 3 times by now. Most importantly, it warns of an ending and signals a new beginning. The end of a decade is on the horizon and the fourth baton in life’s relay is already being waved.

This probably explains the pensive mood. I am spending this day in deep thought of what this particular day really means to me. I believe that age is just a number and not a milestone. One may spend so much time, maybe even as long as 39 years going nowhere or nowhere significant. Comparing time with distance however measures a performance. It makes me wonder if I’ve covered enough grounds given the time I’ve spent on this planet. It boosts my pride that I’ve done well considering all the stops  and detours I had to take in this journey. It keeps my ego in check knowing that I did not do well enough to say that what I did is spectacular enough to consider worth emulating. As a matter of fact, I can say with humility that much of my life is rather a study of “”don’t s” than of “do’s”. My children would know what I mean. I know that I’m taking this journey on my own terms, my own rules. From time to time, I have to remind myself that because I sometimes tend to compare with others and wonder if my own terms and rules are not made as excuse for not being at par with others.

39 to me sounds like a deadline, a reason to hustle, to achieve something  more significant, something I can use as a starting capital for the next decade. I look at the time and the scores and realize it’s time to rethink some strategies. I am both excited and fearful of that thought.  That’s because I am both excited and fearful of change. I am just thankful of the guiding light my father left me. He said fear is no reason to quit. Fear is a reason to get better, muster all my strengths and do my best. That’s why he’s the bravest person I’ve ever known.That is also why, failure although it scares the hell out of me, never stopped me.

So 39, I guess is a milestone afterall, a milestone of my journey in time.  As I ran pass the marker,I decided that 39 is going to be a year of more more and less less. This year I promise to enjoy more and complain less, to give more and need less,to appreciate myself more and punish myself less, to appreciate others more and criticize less, to work harder and play even harder, to celebrate life and prepare for more years of celebrations.

There are very good reasons to celebrate 39 – a bigger family means more special people to love and a bigger network of friends to share this life with. The thing I celebrate the most is the daily opportunity to touch another person’s life. My wish for the next few numbers that will come to my life is more opportunity to spend time with family and friends and more opportunity to be of use to other people. To the numerous people who greeted me today, thank you! May you stay my friends forever.

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Drink from Life

Take a swig, then another and another.

But do not hurry, drink slowly

Let it linger, taste the sweet, notice the bitter and feel the bite.

Acknowledge how it flows down your throat and then to your body.

Be engulfed by its spirit, feel how it turns your world around.

Be here now. Savor every breath, every human experience.

Let today explain yesterday. Let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.

Take what you are given, give back as much as you can.

Drink life, enjoy it, experience it, be intoxicated by it. Know the low, appreciate the high.

Notice who you are drinking with

Every moment is important only if you live that moment.

Life Lessons from Flying Kites

I loved kite flying when I was a kid and now that I have a baby boy I can’t wait to teach him everything I know about flying kites and the life lessons that I learned to go with it.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from making and flying kites:

1. The air worthiness of my kite is my responsibility. I can choose to make my kite or buy some ready made but I should be able to distinguish a good kite from a bad one. I’m responsible for every decision I make. I equip my self to make the right decisions.  I can’t blame anyone for any of them.

2. It’s all in the balance. No matter how potentially good the kite is if I fail to balance the string or the line, it won’t fly well. Life is all about balance. If we ignore our other needs or the people around us and focus only on the demand of the day, we will eventually go crashing down and hit the ground.

3. Getting help in making or flying a kite is more fun and you show your gratitude by sharing the kite. There’s hardly anything in this life that we can accomplish without help from others. Recognize them and share the fruit of your success with them.

4. Making the kite is more than half the fun. Success is sweeter when it’s hard earned. It’s also hard to call success a success if you did not work for it.

5. It’s all about choices. We choose our kite, we choose our string, we choose the timing for flying it, we choose who to fly it with. The quality of the experience depends on the quality of our choices. It is true with kite flying as it is with living.

6. You don’t just throw away a kite that won’t fly well. You try to do something about it by adjusting the balance of the string. Maybe a tail can help or additional weight on the left or on the side depending on the kite’s behavior on air. You dont’ throw away a life just because things are not going well. You figure out how to make it better and actually do something.

7. You can’t fly boka-boka (the simplest kite) forever, you graduate to more awesome and perhaps bigger kites. To an average enthusiast, flying a Gurion (bigger more complex kite)is the ultimate goal. Even as children we are taught to challenge ourselves to pursue bigger things. When we fail to do that as grownups we betray our natural design.

8. If I lose a kite, it’s good to know that  I can use what I learned from the experience to build a better kite or how to fly a kite better. Nothing is really totally lost or wasted. Even when we lose something or fail at something in our lives there is always something to be gained – the lesson on how to become better.

Time to Bring the Mirror Out

Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living.

So the time is just about right to bring out the mirror
To examine one’s life
To look at one’s present self
To compare it with the old self
To  see the difference a year brings
To count one’s blessings
To weigh one’s contributions
To learn from mistakes
To laugh at them too
To take stock of the learning
To apologize for the wrong doings
To cherish the happy moments
To be thankful for overcoming the bad ones
To see the gap between what should and what is
To promise to do better
To keep those promises too
To mourn for the loses just one more time
To appreciate the ones one keeps
To take pride of the lives one touched
To be thankful for the ones who touched one’s life
To say to one’s self, this has been a good year, because of the thing I gained, the things I gave and the things I learned.
To say that next year will be better because I promise to gain more by giving more and learning more.
For in the end, gaining is a product of giving and learning.

Of Snakes and Rats

The other day, I saw my maid kill a small nonvenomous snake. I wanted to rescue the snake but I was too late. It was dead when I got there. I asked her why she killed when it didn’t do anything to hurt anyone. She said “why not? It’s a snake! It’s scary and slithering and yucky! Why are you so protective of it?  I answered, “Well, how many rats do you think a snake can kill in its lifetime?” She said “I don’t know, how many?” “I don’t know either” i replied, but I know it must be plenty”. “Between snakes and rats I’ll choose rats anytime” The maid replied back. “Rats run away when they see me, I run away when I see snakes”. “Ya, if you don’t kill them first!” I retorted. “Besides, you don’t know what you are talking about, rats contaminate our food, they spread disease and damage our clothes and other properties and they are yuckier as well. Snakes don’t do that. Snake bites are overrated. Have you heard or know anyone killed by a snake bite in your lifetime? Probably none.” The maid now looks more confused asked “Do you mean to say that in order to lose the rats, we have to keep the snakes?” She was obviously not amused with the idea. She was still  trying to figure out which of the two is the lesser evil.

Life is like that, an almost endless chain of causes and effects.  Every choice have implications, either good, bad or both. We can’t make knee-jerk decisions without the danger of throwing out something bad out into the world. Sometimes in order to rid our lives of rats,  we have to keep the snakes, but the choices are not always like that, never the less we need to learn how to make wise decisions.

Flow

I am a drop of water,

that goes with the other drops of water,

that flows through a river,

that empties to the sea,

that evaporates to the clouds,

that pours down the mountains,

that flows back to the river,

that shapes the land around it,

that sustains the life of the living,

that gives and that takes

I am part of a great flow called life,

not my life, but a bigger life

The persons I meet are the people I should meet

The problems are the ones I must have

The happiness I feel are the rewards of the moment

The emotions are fleeting phases

I am a drop of water that fills a glass

that quenches a thirst,

that cleanses the ills

I am a drop of water

that serves my purpose

as other drops serve theirs

I am part of the great flow called life

everything will be alright

Half-empty?

How do you see this glass, half filled or half empty?

Conventional wisdom say that we should look at it as half full to  manifest a positive view of life and what it offers. I won’t disagree. Such mindset helps us appreciate the things that are available to us, to be thankful for what life gave. I won’t disagree.

But to ignore the fact that there is an empty space in the glass, is to ignore the fact that things can be better. That with some effort, the glass can be more than just half-full.

We often demonize people who see what’s lacking, we are not comfortable with people who point out the other truth. Think about it though, life cannot be better, if everyone is too satisfied.