Posts Tagged ‘togetherness’

Kay was a famous corporate manager. His career started off at a low-profile company but escalated speedily. He hopped from one big corporation to the next, excelling in what he was doing and receiving the rewards he deserved – a good reputation and a decent salary that eventually became exorbitant. He was able to afford the luxuries that he had only seen in the movies until a few years ago.

In a few years however, he was living only for these luxuries. The wealth he had earned became a starting point for more and yet more accumulation. He thought that with his hard work, he could buy anything. Sometimes, stories he had heard in his childhood would flash in Kay’s mind – stories about how people fell into the traps of greed and want, never being able to live a contented life again. But whenever such thoughts came to his mind, he snubbed them out quickly. He was now full-speed ahead in his lifestyle and the mere thought of slowing down made him nervous.

In time, he got a big house and got married. His wife saw him as a really important man at first, but she eventually realized that he was living a life only to provide comforts to his family. In the process, he seemed to have lost the importance of relationships and relaxation. Their two children rarely saw their father who had to leave the house early and return quite late.  He could not be present at any of their school events or to read them bedtime stories. He was too tired and too occupied for all this. He could not go on family vacations as his position in the company was ‘too sensitive for time-off.’

In Kay’s eyes, he was doing his best for his family. He thought that providing them with money and resources was his only job. His family could afford every pleasure because of the wealth Kay earned. His kids had all the latest technology they wanted, his wife shopped for top-brand clothes and accessories, they had luxury cars, maids and servants to help them out, and were able to materialize all of their whims and fancies. Kay felt satisfied thinking, “What more could a man give to his family?”

In his family’s eyes, Kay was the father-who-was-never-there. Initially, his children complained and put up a fight about this, but eventually realized that they did not fit into their father’s packed schedule. They were happy with the cool things that their father let them buy but deep inside their hearts, they were sad that they could not share their joy with him.  Kay, who thought he was doing everything for his children, did not even know that his children actually needed him more than anything else. His wife, whose dream it had always been to live a life of sharing, caring, laughing and enjoying had learnt to be content with
shopping, looking pretty, decorating the house, organizing parties and ensuring everyone knew about their family’s financial status.

There was no doubt that Kay was really good at his professional work. Unfortunately, he was at work for so long and so often, that eventually, it was the only thing that he was good at. Somewhere along the road, Kay had ‘become’ what he did for a living. His identity was his work. Even though he had made a name for himself in the corporate world, he had forgotten to live life as a person, as a human being. His mind was never ready to think about anything except his work.

Never once did Kay pause to think, “Who really am I as a person, as a human being, as a husband, as a father and so on? Is this human life limited to increasing the profits of a corporate company? If I did not have this job, who would I be? Why am I so busy in filling my coffers overlooking the beauties this life and this world have to offer? Have my most meaningful accompaniments – my wife and my children – become reduced to fixtures? Was I born only to earn money?

Such a living style had become his passion, his mission. He took increasing stress for successive steps to his path — the path to glory. But stress is stress and gradually, this stressful life began to take a toll on his health. He did not have time even to see the doctor. Whenever he did go to the doctor, he was advised to re-plan his life, relax and unwind. The advice never worked. He continued to do whatever was required to rise higher and higher in his profession. Eventually, the stress showed up. One day, he had to be rushed to the hospital when he fainted during a heated meeting with a client. His condition was serious. The doctors were not sure if he would survive.

Kay’s life flashed before his eyes. All he saw was meetings with clients, convincing his team members, leading projects, his office and his pending files. Pushing aside everything, he asked to see his wife. She responded quickly and arranged a full-time attendant as she herself was scheduled to attend some meetings.  In the endless race for materialism, Kay had forgotten to show his family what togetherness meant. Everyone had started going by a fixed schedule, with no time for anything or anyone. His children, on hearing about their father’s condition, sent him flowers. They did not show up to look after him or to talk to him as they already had their day chalked out. Kay was responsible for all this. In all his wisdom and sincerity, he had modelled this. In the early years after his marriage, whenever his wife called him in the office to tell him that their child was sick, he would call his secretary to send for a doctor and also arrange for flowers to be delivered. He himself was too occupied to take time off to comfort his family. Now, the ‘standard’ had been set.

A new flash now appeared before Kay’s eyes. All of a sudden, life seemed like such a waste. Accomplishments seemed so superficial. What had once seemed like moments of glory now appeared to have nothing glorious about them. The real glory had been lost. A human life had been lost in meaningless pursuits and now lay helpless on a hospital bed.

~ Nivedita Shori


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Let’s Walk Together

Come my dear, let’s take a walk

Don’t ask ‘where’, don’t ask ‘why’

For all we need is a walk—

By ourselves, hand-in-hand

Saying adieu to the cares of the world.

Come my dear, lest it is too late

To enjoy ‘togetherness’

To consider and celebrate our blessings,

For the fountain of youth will drain one day

Leaving behind scarred memories.

Come my dear, and tell me not

That you have no time

For soon enough, there really will be none.

Time is a tough master

It flies fast and no one can keep up.

Come my dear, let’s walk together

By the riverside, on the street,

Questions of ‘where’ and ‘why’ don’t matter

As long as we are ‘together’.

The rest can all wait for some time.

Let’s sip some joy from the cup of life

Come my dear, let’s walk together,

And on this journey, grow together!

— Nivedita Shori

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Family Stands For Togetherness

Family! This word conjures up an image of a group of people — both young and old — standing next to each other, holding hands and smiling. This is usually what is seen in traditional family portraits and is conventionally considered to be an ideal image of a family.

Taking a step deeper beyond the ‘looks’, let us think about how much togetherness they actually share.

Do the members of a family really stand by each other holding hands? No, we don’t. The fact is that not only in good times, but even in tough times, no one cares about one another. Some might pretend to be present physically or at the most say some comforting words, but when it comes to truly comforting the person – whether it be a parent, grandparent, a sibling or a child – we often fail miserably to do even our duty, let alone doing any selfless service.

How often do we even smile in each other’s company? It is one thing to give a smiling pose for a picture but a totally different thing to share a genuine smile. In fact, we seem to have lesser and lesser time to smile. We enter the house, leave the house and work or sleep inside our house like robots. We do not smile and greet each other in the family any more when someone returns home. Nor do we smile and wave at each other when a family member leaves. Sometimes, when we watch television together or are engaged in other external sources of entertainment as a family, occasionally we smile or laugh. But that pleasantness is not directed towards each other. It is directed towards the idiot box or the media source we are engrossed in.

If we analyze further, we find that as families, we do not live up to our roles at all. We do not show our excitement at family ventures, we do not show our commitment and sincerity to family-time and we do not stand by each other in times of need.

What’s even more unfortunate is that family members are generally looking for chances to pull each other’s leg. We feel that others in the family are standing over us, instead of standing by us. They seem to be watching everything we are doing and are ready with their taunts at the first opportunity they get.  And when it comes to us, we do the same to them.

In households, it is common to hear, “I already knew it!” or “See! Didn’t I tell you? But who listens to me?” and worse still “You are hopeless! No one in the family has ever been like you. I wonder who you take after!”

Amidst such environments, it is hard to feel a sense of belonging, caring and togetherness. One does not feel like going home at the end of a busy day, when such an atmosphere awaits. A home is not a home but just a shelter in such cases. A well-known adage says, “A house is made with bricks but a home is made with hearts”. Sadly, our hearts are not very much in the picture. So, our family portraits are mere appearances, acts of pretence.

We have to understand that we need our families. It is up to each and every member of the family to try to create an atmosphere conducive to peace and joy. Who would understand our true worth, but our family? As a family, we should encourage each other and help bring out each other’s strengths. We can start with simple things like a hearty acknowledgement of the other person’s presence or words, an encouraging remark, a loving gesture or even one simple, genuine smile. If our heart is in the right place, our home will be too!

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Right’s mine, Wrong’s yours

Those who like gardening will know how much joy there is in planting and taking care of a garden and seeing the shoots spring up and turn into fruit-laden trees. The juicy fruits later become a source of pride and satisfaction for the gardener. Every time he looks at them and relishes them, he thinks about the hard work that went into it.

There is an odd time or two, however, when the fruit does not turn out to be according to the expectations of the gardener. What is the gardener supposed to do now? Disown the fruit? Blame the fruit? Yell at the fruit? Advise the fruit to be better next time? To claim to be the producer of the good fruit only? No, that is the moment for the gardener to reflect on ‘what might have gone wrong’. But against this attitude, looking at the good crop, the gardener proudly says, “Look at this bright, shiny, juicy one? I grew it. It is the product of my own garden. I made it turn into such a great thing.”

And when someone asks the gardener, “Sir, what about this other pale, shrivelled fruit lying in the same basket, next to your juicy one?”

The gardener replies, “I have no role to play in the sad state of the fruit. I did all the right things, gave the fruit very good conditions. I cannot be held responsible for every single thing in this garden”.

The listener smiles and thinks to himself, “When things go well, it is because of the gardener, but whenever there is a mistake, he has no role to play in it. How amusing!”

Even though this sounds strange and funny, yet several times, we often behave very much like this gardener. When we do something that brings us laurels, we take credit for it. We bask in the glory of a task well done and readily accept all the praise we receive.

However, when we make a wrong decision – which sooner or later we end up making in the course of our long life, because to err is only human – we consider it to be some divine plan. We look for a source to blame. If, in that situation, we cannot find anyone who we can hold responsible for the mistake, we start blaming God. We try to blame our stars for the wrong things that are happening to us. We try to convince ourselves and others that adversity did not strike because of a mistake that we made. It just happened because of reasons of its own.

In the above situation, we forget that when times had been good, we had considered ourselves responsible for it. At that instant, we had not wasted a moment in declaring that it was our right choices, our right actions, which had made the success possible. And now we are saying, “It just happened because of reasons of its own”. Funny!

To extend the analogy even further, let us take the case of our children. We try to guide our children to the best of our ability. We try and ensure that they always do the right thing. But despite all of our attempts, some mistakes are bound to happen. And when those mistakes occur, we disclaim all responsibility.

When our child stands first in class, we usually give credit to the time we spend in teaching him. When the child is praised by others, we again take pride in our upbringing. It is no wonder that when children shine, parents feel very proud. Well, there seems nothing wrong in doing so. It is, after all, the fruit from the trees of their hard work that has proved to be of a fine quality. The gardener, the nurturer – the parent – certainly feels satisfied and contented when the hard work pays off.

However, when the child ends up making a mistake, the tables are turned. We hand over the responsibility to the child. We consider him to be careless and disobedient. All of a sudden, we leave the child alone to face the music.  We hold him responsible for the wrongs that have occasionally occurred.

Is it fair to claim the ‘rights’ and deny the ‘wrongs’? No human can be totally perfect. However, we need to have the courage to accept responsibility for what our children turn out to be. If we are going to share their glorious actions, then it is very irresponsible of us to abandon them to face the result.

It is true that mistakes are opportunities to learn. As parents, it does fall in our lap to educate them about the incident and to help them analyze what went wrong. However, this should be done with an approach of togetherness. In such situations, think about the good times when you gave yourself credit. Become that same person, courageous enough to own and to take responsibility. If the accomplishments are ours, the failures are too!  Only this way, we can rectify the wrongs.

~ Miles To Go

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A major issue affecting household harmony these days is ego-clash. The word ‘Ego’ has started becoming more and more common. The dictionary defines it as “the ‘I’ or self of any person”. A family is not about ‘I’ however. It is about ‘us’. With people’s lifestyles becoming more self-centred, this concept of togetherness gets shaken. This leads to a lot of power struggles – evident or hidden.

We often hear about disagreements between parents and children, between couples or between siblings due to ego. The clash begins with any one member not accepting the thoughts, opinions or sometimes even the dignity of another member.

People say that we don’t get along because our egos come in the way. It has to be remembered that ego is a developed practice. It is not something that just happens! It is not inherited; nor is it a birth defect. Ego gets cultivated unconsciously over a period of time. It is a gradual process but once developed it becomes a habit hard to shake off.

Like all habits, an unhealthy dominant ego also starts with attitude. If one is conscious of the problem when it occurs and controls one’s thoughts through rational, spiritual and mindful thinking, the battle is won even before being declared. But more often than not, we let our unhealthy thoughts govern our behaviour. We unmindfully nurture and cultivate them to the extent that they start creating havoc for us.

A lot of times, ego surfaces when we wish that the other person should not ‘win’. Even casual conversations become arguments and life a battlefield. For an egoistic person everything is an attack on his self esteem. For him it becomes hard to nod in agreement and he starts leading a pretentious life. A lot of relationships are spoiled, friendships are lost, family ties are severed. Once egoism becomes a habit, it is hard to go back. Damage continues. Emotions or sensitivities hold no place in life. Selfishness ensues!

The following could be some symptoms of egoism and some pointers on what you can do about it :

  • A family member proposes something and you find yourself thinking, “If we do this, people will consider him or her to be wiser than me.” Time to reflect! A family is where every one appreciates each other’s wisdom and qualities.
  • A friend points out a flaw in you, and you get angry and think, “So he considers himself superior?” Time to reflect! Just focus on what you have been told and see if it is worth considering. Don’t jump into an argument right away.
  • A child expresses his thoughts about something and you start to correct him instantly. Time to reflect! Think about the little person’s perspective. You might be more experienced but that does not give you the right to snub someone. Instead you should lovingly discuss the issue.
  • Someone disagrees with you and your temper flares up and your voice becomes louder. Time to reflect! You do not have the right to control others’ decisions and thoughts. Each and every individual has the right and independence to express how and what he feels.
  • You get the impression that every one is targeting and questioning you and your beliefs. Time to reflect! You might be under the impression that you are being attacked even when the speaker is talking very generally. This is a characteristic of a developing ego.

Families perform the role of support networks for all members. Egos become a big problem in the fulfilment of this role. With egoism everyone starts to think only about himself. It becomes a barrier to a happy life. It is a habit that should not be nurtured in oneself and not be encouraged in the family. We need to be aware of our egoistic attitude and have the willingness to negate it with positive vibrations. Healthy family interactions begin with healthy attitudes.

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