To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child , a garden patch, or a redeemed condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Awesome things...

Came across a website (read about it in the paper first - it's apparently featured widely in media and has won an award of some kind) called '1000 Awesome Things'.  Here, one Mr. Pasricha started writing about the everyday, mundane things that he finds awesome.  Things like the smell of shampoo, a road-blocking slow car moving out of the way, food in a potluck, and so on.

At one level, writing about such things can look like self-aggrandizing: who cares whether or not you found a summer midnight walk enchanting, for instance.  On thinking it through, though, it struck me as an exercise in developing at 'attitude of gratitude', or even humility.

First, how many of us really, deliberately take time out of our 'busy' lives (esp. those of us in urban settings, with long commutes) to 'smell the flowers' on the way.  We've become so engrossed in 'making a life' that we've forgotten how to enjoy life (while we still can!), even the little pleasures that are available to us in plenty.  And this is even when we do find (or make) a bit of time from our grinding schedules.  We'd rather sit in darkened halls, munching on (unhealthy!) snacks, supposedly 'enjoying' a movie with reputedly breathtaking scenes, but we wouldn't look up from our car window to take in the unfolding magic of a monsoon sky.

Second (perhaps more important) aspect is that we hardly appreciate what we have, while constantly running after things we think we 'should have'.  We take it for granted that we'd have (and always continue to have) the ability to talk, walk, speak and even breathe.  But do we ever realize what huge blessings these, apparently 'normal' things, are?  And I'm not even talking of other people who are physically or mentally challenged, deprived of these faculties.  I'm talking of people walking among us whose condition or circumstances hinder them from enjoying these things as a 'normal' person would.  Ask someone with arthritis what a blessing it'd be to just be able to walk without excruciating pain!  Ask someone with asthma what utter relief and pleasure it'd be to just breathe normally all the time without fear that the wind would be sucked out of their lungs at times!  Even, for a person who has to live apart from his/her family due to work or other reasons, ask him/her the joys of just being able to hold his/her infant child in his hands!

So, coming back to the 'awesome things', it seems to do no harm to remember, once in a while, the blessings and bounties that nature or our circumstances bestow on us, and thus (directly or indirectly) show our gratitude for the same.  This attitude may also have two indirect effects: (a) Negating the 'entitlement' syndrome, where people (usually those with means) get set in the belief that they are 'entitled' to all that they have (and some that they don't have but crave!), not realizing that many of those things are not only not earned by their own hard work, but are actually a 'tax' on the society in some cases (think about lighting up your house with extensive decorations, in places with perennial energy shortages).  (b) Inculcating humility, once we realize that we are just a speck in the larger scheme of things (whether worldly or cosmic).

With this in mind, I've decided to 'pen' down here, every once in a while, the things that I find 'awesome' and to be grateful for.  It'd perhaps be presumptuous to call this something like a 'list of things in which I see God', so I'll leave it to the best judgment of the readers.

I've already thought about the thing that's #1 awesome on my list - the one above.  That is, a monsoon sky in India, showing but a small part of the works of the gigantic paintbrush of nature! Really awe-inspiring, what say?