REAL CONNECTEDNESS AS SEEN FROM MY BACK GARDEN.

 

I have always been told that if someone speaks to me in the language I understand, he/she speaks to my mind but when he/she speaks to me in my own language, he/she speaks to my heart.  I then connect to a deeper level with that person and the relationship between the two of us flourishes.

Towards the end of each month, my neighbour collects his octogenarian mother from the village, about 120 kilometers from the city, for her medical checkup. In that home , there are two girls aged ten and  eight and a boy aged twenty two months. This boy is very active; learning to explore his world while the girls are away at school. In the evening, the grandmother sits on a mat under a mango tree and watches the people pass by. As soon as the grandson sees his grandmother in the garden, he rushes to her and happily starts chatting her up in his mumble- jumble. He brings out most of his toys and demonstrates to her how they work. As he rides his toy car, he calls out  Jajja– grandmother a thousand times and the grandmother cheers him along. The grandmother calls him ‘dear husband’ as the culture dictates.

During this time, the two are inseparable; each one giving what he/she has. They share snacks like sweet bananas, juice and laughter. Their laughter is terribly infectious. The grandmother sings him some local Nursery rhymes. They bark at the dog together, mew like the cat, point at a passing airplane with great excitement. The two are fully immersed in what is going on between them: they listen to each other intently and grandmother pretends to be understanding everything the grandson is telling her in his mumble-jumble.When the grandson falls down,  the grandmother soothes him by simply blowing over the bruised area and soon after the grandson runs back to what he was doing.

They are having the best time of their lives. The grandson knows that he is safe with his grandmother; no one can take him away and the grandmother herself is more than thrilled to live her second childhood.

At eighty plus, she has been there and done that. Long before, she had struggled to find meaning of her life, to achieve something for herself or change the world and make a difference while taking care of others. She has given her gifts to the world, children and grandchildren. Now it is time for her to learn to be free and fully connected with the universe. She now lives life for its own sake day by day. She is no longer bothered by achievements instead; she is lost in finding joy with her grandson. Indeed, she has earned this luxury and it will keep her going for a while. Grandmother and grandson feel they are in a safe place; both are open to joy and trust others to take care of them.

These are two Innocents enjoying their childhood spontaneity, both are highly creative and are both playing just for the fun of it. The grandson creates the games and the grandmother plays along gladly. They cannot have enough of each other.

They will enjoy the fun until it grows dark and they will then follow each other into the house. By then , grandmother’s bony pains would have eased and the grandson’s joy  would be unspeakable.

Their emotional tanks would be fully recharged until grandmother’s next visit. I guess each one lives to see the other at the next visit. This is what I call deep, real connectedness to friends and family.

Two quotations about connectedness  come to my mind:

“ Each connection with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.’’ By Anais Nin

And “Only through connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connection to others,’’ by Goldhor Lerner

Some years back I read Dan Buettner’s book entitled: The Blue Zones. These are the world’s hot Spots of longevity. Among these hot spots was Sardinia, Italy- where people live measurably longer lives-80 plus. Their lives are not only long but are healthy and of good quality too.

Studies showed that among the factors contributing to this longevity were: good genes, eating the traditional Mediterranean diet, leading physically active lives and having several generations of a family living under one roof loving and supporting one another.

The deep connection I observed between my neighbour’s mother and her grandson proves that being connected to a loving and supporting family is among the key factors to increased longevity.

Each time they play their games together, they recharge each other’s emotional tank and each one can ride on this wave of joy and pleasure until the next visit. Your family doctor will tell you that a happy disposition strengthens the Immune system thus protecting you against recurrent infections and cancers.

If you are now reading this, start thinking about how you can connect deeper to all your friends and loved ones and immediately take action. It will add life to your years and may save you many trips to your family doctor.

Thank you for making time to read my post and keep coming back. I would be very happy to hear from you if the post has inspired you to connect deeply with others.

 

Great lessons in Patience and Humility

 

Having lived out of my motherland for two decades, I have had to return to the place I call home- home is where your heart is. As I try to find my way around, I am getting great lessons in patience and humility. The physical landscape has changed beyond recognition and so has the moral fabric that once held us together. Sometimes I feel as if I am listening to a new language altogether.

As they say: East, west, home is best. I am gradually carving a path for myself through it all. I am determined not to fail for I feel that this is where I belong.One other quote comes to my mind: To change is difficult, not to change is fatal.

I know for sure that if I am not changed to my core values- principles and beliefs, I cannot lose myself.

I have never been a passive observer and I do not intend to start now;  otherwise  a part of me would be dying off slowly. My biggest problem now is moving from point A to point B, whether on foot or by a car. It is now an elaborate affair which has to be planned well in advance: considering the time of day and the traffic peak hours. Many times I have been caught in the tangled city traffic jams for hours. It is a frightening and frustrating situation to say the least. I have now learned that best way to go through this when you are not driving yourself , is to find something to distract you from it. You could read  newspapers, a novel or check and reply to the messages on your phone.

For anyone crossing any of the streets in the city or walking on the pavement, the motorcycle taxis- boda boda,  carrying or dropping off passengers, is the biggest threat to your life. The motorcycles seem to come from any direction and like the elephants in a national park; they have the right of the way. I am training myself to watch out carefully for them and wait patiently for them as they pass by.

Local problems demand for locally tailored solutions so I have come to learn that apart from learning to be patient and humble, one has to find other appropriate and effective solutions to accessing the basic services like shopping for the groceries.

Careful planning and knowing when to leave or stay in a place, removes the stress out of moving within the city to a remarkable degree. But identifying a centre near where you live that has most of the basic services you need, will save you time, money and mental annoyance. This centre then becomes your One-stop centre. It has to have:  a branch of your Bank, a forex bureau, a super market with a large parking area- where you park then  buy all your groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables, a good family doctor’s clinic, a dentist’s clinic and a small animal clinic- to take care of your pets. There has to be a well stocked pharmacy run by a pharmacist, a gym preferably with some physiotherapy services. For the ladies; a good hairdressing salon is a basic requirement. You will also need a place where you can eat a snack or sit down with a friend and watch the world go round.

You may have to look around for a nearby Police station in case you lose your valuables , a good lawyer and a good mechanic for your type of car. Over time, you can add on other service provider as the need arises.

As Charles Darwin said:It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent that survive. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

I am slowly but surely getting there. I must admit that it is not for the faint -hearted.

Thank you for making time to visit my blog. I shall be very grateful if you left a comment about this post. Please keep coming back.

 

BEING ‘ME’

Many Times in my childhood , I would find myself wishing that I was like so and so; this usually depended on the situation I found myself in. Over time I realised that I performed best when  I acted as my true self.

Now I know for sure that each one of us is loaded and equipped with the gifts and talents to be able to work and function as the unique individual you are created to be. As that unique individual, I have something to offer to the world that I alone can give to make the world a better place.

A few of us know their calling by  adolescence, the majority know by their late twenties and a small number never get to know  it until mid-life.

We all start off by going out to explore-seeking for new ideas and experiences in the world around us and beyond. Through those experiences we learn our strengths and flaws and struggle for some time to change them where we can.

There are some little things that express  your uniqueness: I remember donkey years ago how our primary school teachers tried to change left-handed students to writing with their right hands with little success. It is now common knowledge that about 15% humans  are left –handed.

Parents, family, friends wants us to conform to society’s standards and when we do not, we are labelled rebels.

Most adolescents conform to please family and friends or conform just to fit in among their peers.

By the age of thirty, most of us have found out who we really are: our strengths and flaws and accepted it and live comfortably with it. We start to enjoy asserting and making ourselves visible wherever we are. For we have learned that being “me” is the most natural thing to be- spontaneous, and costs little.

As they say: The hunt is n’t over until both the heart and your belly are full. The yearning in your heart ceases as the soul soars and the two are unified.

The psychologist would tell you that your Ego and Soul are dancing in complete harmony.  You feel whole and connected .There is joy and spontaneity in your life. You feel you are in charge of your life.

This is your Paradise created through your own efforts. Your duty is now to protect and enjoy it for as long as you can. It will cushion you against whatever life throws at you. As both your heart and soul are unified; when you work at what you love, it is no longer work but fun. You have found spiritual depth and authenticity. You are terribly productive and at the same time happy and content.

Then mid-life sails in and docks, many of us reassess our accomplishments relative to the aspirations of our youth. Suddenly the career becomes unrewarding, the job is not satisfying or you feel you are in the wrong place. A few may feel confined or empty and like adolescents, they go out once again to explore. They will not stop seeking until they find something new that makes them feel more connected and whole. This opens them up to doing things with more pleasure and ease.

This explains why some people change jobs or careers or migrate or scale bigger mountains during mid-life than before. They want to live their lives for themselves. The nagging realisation that mortality is not far away makes the search for something better an urgent one.

Andrew Sachs’ quote comes to my mind:  “Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.”

Two other quotes about living life fully have just floated in. They are quotes by one of America’s leading motivational speaker and author Leslie Calvin “ Les Brown”

“ Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.’’

And “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here you find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take the first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.’’

If you are reading this post now, take heart: it is never too late to find your calling. May you have the courage and self-confidence to follow your dreams.

You cannot live life fully until you have known who you are deep down and embraced yourself lovingly. Then you go out to engage effectively with the world around you: doing what you enjoy and love otherwise you just exist or keep wandering through life.

Thank you for making time to read my blog. In case this post helps you or fires you to pick up something you had pushed to the back burner, I would be very happy to learn about it.

 

WAITING

Indeed everybody waits.  Everybody is always advised to wait patiently and to wait with hope- easier said than done.

What a coincidence! I have just returned home after accompanying my octogenarian  mother  to an Imaging Centre close to the city centre, for some tests. I waited with her for more than three hours simply seated and waiting. My mother has suffered from knee and ankle joint pains for almost two years  but of late , the pains have become too excruciating to steal her zest for life.

At the same time, the country is recording the hottest temperatures in years: yesterday it was 32 degrees Celsius  around here while some areas in the country side recorded temperatures as high as 38 . Today does not look to be any cooler.

We started off early so as to beat the heavy traffic into the city. We arrived fifteen minutes late for the 12 noon appointment. I was relieved to find only four other patients: two middle-aged men and two elderly females waiting at the reception.

I greeted the receptionist and apologized for our coming in late. “ We ‘re sorry we’re late but we did the best we could,’’ I said gently.

“ Do n’t worry ; the patient you’re supposed to follow has n’t come out yet,’’ she said,smiling.

I heaved a sigh of relief and settled my mother down . I picked the day’s newspaper from the coffee table and browsed through it. To our great relief , another assistant called us inside. I glanced at my watch ; we had only waited for fifteen minutes at the reception. Lady luck must have been smiling at us.

We sat in the waiting room with the assistant who then took some time to make us comfortable and to explain to my mother  what was going to be done and what was expected of her. She gave her time to ask any questions and she answered them to the best of her ability; deliberately making my mother feel at ease.

“I’ve had these tests before; I’m willing and ready to go in there,”she said as she pointed to the procedure room.

I could see the relief on the assistant’s face as she asked my mother to remove all jewellery on any other metallic item  on her then change into a clean theatre gown and wear a cap over her head.

“ You should be going in  shortly,’’ she said looking at her watch. “ Probably in the next twenty minutes.’’

She was called to the reception ; leaving us to ourselves. I distracted my mother from the tests by talking about her grandchildren. Her eyes lit up as I let her do most of the talking. I kept glancing at the clock on the wall. Twenty minutes of waiting turned into thirty then forty then …….

The assistant came back to sit down with us. “ I’m sorry, you’ll have to wait a little longer. The radiologist has had to do some other tests on the patient after completing the first one,’’ she explained.

I picked the newspaper that I was reading earlier on from the reception and two cups of drinking water one for my mother and one for me. I thought to myself: We should have been left to wait at the reception. Here was my mother already changed into the gown and the only thing we had to do was simply sit and wait.

As if reading my mind , my mother smiled and said, “I’ve never enjoyed waiting but in my state, I can’t grow  tired of waiting. I need these tests done for I’m hopeful that the results will help the doctor to find something more effective  to relieve the joint pains.’’

I nodded in approval for I understood why she had remained so calm and relaxed. Probably time or the chronic pain or a combination of the two  had taught her to wait patiently. Someday, I will get there too.

At that precise moment, I remembered the old adage that says that Patience is a virtue. An hour passed without being called inside. I even walked through the open back door to explore the outside under the pretext of stretching my legs. My stomach started growling reminding me of the lunch hour.

I wondered whether if it had been my mother inside and she required some additional tests after the one she was booked for, what would I have done.

I realised that I had no control of the situation so I decided to make it easy for both myself and my mother. I set the newspaper aside, stopped looking at my watch but instead fell into an animated conversation with my mother. I asked her to tell me about her most exciting moments during her career as a midwife. She talked excitedly while I listened with both mind and heart.

By the time the radiologist himself came over to apologise to us about the delay and usher my mother into the procedure room, we had waited for another one hour and fifteen minutes without us noticing it!

The experience in itself had taught me to be a little more patient and understanding. It reminded me of what I had read years back that: over time we all learn that so much of living is about waiting and thinking.

I tried to remember who had said that : “It is very strange that years teach us patience-the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” But I could not.

Amazingly, waiting for my mother as the tests were being performed on her was more or less child play. I was confident and relaxed trusting that things will fall in place at the right time.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this post. Please leave a comment: this blog is as good as it is yours as it is mine.