Why don’t I set a target?

books

I know you are surprised and curious! I know you are thinking that targets or goals form an imperative part of our lives and without them we may seem like a rudderless boat, which would never reach anywhere.

There are some targets, which seem inevitable, which are like milestones and refuse to move till we accept them as realities. I know! I too had to honor them but I would call them compulsive cahoots, gnawing at our minds everyday, challenging our abilities and pushing us closer to the curve of compliance.

Setting goals for reading? Really?

What confounds me is setting targets for joy, happiness, travel, leisure and above all reading! I have heard many times…‘this year I am going to focus on happiness’…as if our focus on this fleeting emotion ever wavers!

Setting targets for pleasure trivializes the term ‘goal,’ which inspires vision and success in the chosen field. Unconditional commitments do make us determined but isn’t it better to reserve them for more important achievements?

I have always encouraged my students to set academic goals to reach the pinnacle of glorious pedestal they would like to perch on and many of them have accomplished them.

I have never set a target of reading books, as I believe we read for pleasure, not for meeting goals and invite unnecessary stress. There are many other triggers around us to cause stress.

I have never kept a count of books I have read for all these years. Completing a book and starting another one is as normal for me as changing an outfit.

While Goodreads keeps nudging me to set a target, I remind myself …’If you take a book like a medicine, it loses its charm.’ I had learnt this lesson long ago when I could not read the specified number of books for my Literature discussions! The more I tried to keep up the pace; my concentration grew less and less.

Pledging to read a book within a specified time is like a noose hanging before me, depriving me of all the joy connected with the style of the author and language of a book.

Is it all about numbers?

Reading is not just about numbers and being able to say… ‘I have read 25 books this year.’ It is more about absorbing the thoughts, savoring the words, imagining and connecting with the places. It is a breezy journey to enjoy, not a whirlwind to escape! Quality of reading enriches our experiences, not the quantity.

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adlerreading-quote

It is more rewarding to read a book slowly so that we can absorb the virtuousness of our favorite character…to drench in the feelings of people around us…so that we can become a part of their world.

Is it about emotions?

Some people don’t get emotionally engaged in a book, they read it very fast, without actually stepping into the realm of fantasy, without identifying with the characters and their thoughts.

One of my friends had this habit of reading the books very fast. Whenever we would mention a book or share it, she would come out with this reply… ‘Oh! I have read that!’ At that juncture of life, as a young and immature reader, I would envy her speed. I even tried to read in her manner but honestly speaking, I could hardly enjoy the book and felt guilty too.

Shallow reading seems to be the norm of the day just to complete the resolution of reading a specified number of pages during the day. If the book is a cheap romance or a thrilling mystery, delving deep into it may be inconceivable but we get out of such books quite early in life.

Reading without any distractions around us – another challenge of modern times!

The other day I happened to be at a hospital, waiting for a procedure of a dear one to be over and to keep my thoughts positive, I had taken my kindle along with me.

I tried very hard to concentrate with chit chat going all around, two ladies talking continuously, exchanging their views on every possible topic from hair styling to cooking!

I had read 20% of the book but I want to start it again for the pure pleasure of soaking in the beautiful words, which got lost in the crescendo around me.

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

Do you set targets for reading? Do you read faster to reach those targets? I am waiting eagerly for your perspective on commercialization of reading for pleasure.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

 

Wishes For You…

Wishes for New Year

If you are a writer
May words twirl around your place
If you are a dreamer,
May visions placate your days with solace

If you are a lover
May fragrant freedom grace your days
If you are a visionary
May the hues of rainbow seep into your ways

If you are intuitive
May your inner voice fathom all
If you are sensitive
May tender vibes caress your emotional fall

If you are reflective
May your ideas sparkle and soar
If you have indomitable spirit
May success knock at your door

If you are a pessimist
May hope glow in your heart
If you are agitated
May patience bloom in your backyard

If you are a brooder
May your hours of distress decrease
If you are fun-loving
Savor each moment of joy with ease

Let happiness, harmony, humility
Let acceptance, compassion, calmness
Permeate through your persona
This year, to dispel all the darkness.

© Balroop Singh
All rights reserved.

You can click on Sublime Shadows Of Life  by Balroop Singh to read more such poems.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

When Grief Transports You Back…

friendsLast week I received shocking news, which transported me back into time…those pleasant days of sitting for hours in the company of friends, those carefree moments that seemed to suggest life is blissful. We basked in its glory, oblivious of the fact that we would go our own way, get busy with the nuances of life only to meet occasionally and that too if we made special efforts to synchronize our visits to our home city.

Time is ephemeral, but we keep drifting back into it whenever it exhibits its tyranny!

This tyrant snatched away those insouciant moments we still treasure. Ironically… it brings back those whiffs of friendly fragrance more at such times of bereavement.

Happier times pass by complacently, with the thoughts that all is well and we have all the time in the world to meet.

Could we ever imagine that a day will come when we would be far away from each other, yearning to be together in the grief of one of us?

Could we ever reflect that we would be placed thousands of miles away and the word ‘friendship’ would stand before us in a questioning mode?

Could we ever think that one of our most effervescent and vivacious friends would be the first one to face the biggest setback of life…losing her husband and that too at such a stage when life starts afresh?

I always thought that I have become impervious to setbacks, having the experience of facing them since childhood but each one brings new emotions and memories. This one jolted me out of my illusionary world of thinking ‘everyone has to go and so must I.’

I often say I am ready to go, unmindful of the sentiments of my dear ones. I preach selflessness but in the process forget certain emotions that are vital to heart despite detachment. Today these emotions are hitting me hard from a new angle. They remind me that detachment is a mere word…a delusion to keep us occupied to deal with the struggles and realities of this world.

friends

Real detachment is painful and the laceration never heals as it is eternal…it is like amputating one part of the body.

Recently I came across an interesting perspective about time – “Time does not heal, it just teaches us how to live with the pain.” This outlook appealed to me and as I look back, I nod to myself how true it is as time has blurred my agony and hurts and I have learnt to live with them.

I know my wishful thinking can never put us in the same boat of blissful friendship we shared but we can provide solace with our words. We cannot bridge the distances but we can be with each other in spirit.

As I grieve over the loss and loneliness of my dear friend, the words of a famous poet come to my mind: “If moments were birds, I could have caged them, nurtured them with care, fed them with pearls and kept them close to my heart…”

Moments do get entrapped in our hearts and we can revisit them through our “inward eye.”

“A friend is what the heart needs all the time.” Henry Van Dyke

‘The greatest gift of life is friendship’…Have you received it?

Thank you for reading this amalgamation of emotions. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

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Balroop Singh.

 

Emotional Realities Of Life

Emotional Realities Of Life

I have just returned from a wonderful retreat, some lovely emotional moments with my niece who graduated this month, spent some superb days of togetherness with my younger daughter and then soaked in the leisurely hours in the charmingly captivating home of my nephew whose warm welcoming vibes keep the emotional bonds alive.

These few days were a living dream, a lifetime of bonding and love, which reminds us how beautiful life is!

‘Life is but a dream…’almost everyday I sing this rhyme with my little grand daughter.

Now that she is so observant and pertinent with her questions, she says: what is a dream grandma?

I keep singing, moving the little boat in my hand more vigorously to distract her but her question gets more persistent.

I realize how inarticulate I am! How do I define a dream to a two-year-old child?

As I search for the right words, another question crops up…why is it a dream, grandma!

All the analogies that are associated with life swiftly cross my mind but none is simple enough to answer an innocent question, which ignites various thoughts.

An idea strikes me instantly. I must write about it!

Life has been compared to the glowing sun as well as the moon, it has been equated with flowing water, it can be darker than the threatening clouds, it can be as colorful as the rainbow but it can never be the same.

The transient nature of life makes it real. The emotional attachments make it worth living.

Despite stormy tribulations, we all love life.

There was a time when life was very dear to me. Attachments were deeper, emotions more intense and the worries most prominent. Mental ease – a far cry!

When I was told that I wouldn’t live a long life, my only worry was my children especially the younger one who was just a little baby. What will they do without a mother…who will take care of them…I approached a dear sibling and got a promise that she would take care of my little baby.

And then the prophecy became almost true!

When I was face to face with death, strangely my mind was numb. It couldn’t think beyond the present moment. The only thought that crossed my mind at that minuscule moment was…it’s all over!

The next moment I found myself alive! I was wonderstruck at the miraculous escape I had! I thanked my stars, my God, whom I was always questioning, whose existence I always doubted, who stepped forward to carry me like flower petals and return to my dear ones!

Then there were many such moments when I told myself – I want to live, I have unfulfilled tasks.

I am happy I could complete all of them.

Life flew by. I know I have lived a happy and fulfilling life.

Was it a dream? I try to probe deeper – probably it refers to ‘letting go,’ the so-called philosophical interpretation.

However, a self-enforced detachment keeps nudging me and reminding me… ‘Life is but an illusion.’

Life is beautiful

I often wonder…is it true? How can life be an illusion when we live it, savoring each moment, directing it according to our own wishes?

Then I look up the meaning of the word – illusion… ‘something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.’…‘a false mental image produced by misinterpretation of things that actually exist.’

And I analyze it further…life doesn’t deceive. People do, circumstances may be such that we feel betrayed, our own efforts cause disappointments but we refuse to own the responsibility for all this.

We pass on the buck to life, saying ‘it is unfair.’

Life is beautiful, it is worth living, and it is very much real if we approach it with a positive mind.

If you want to fathom the beauty of life, look at a newborn child.

If you want to understand how meaningful and playful life can be, learn it from a child. Now I can truly appreciate the observation of Wordsworth: ‘Child is the father of man.’

If you want to distinguish between the reality and dreams, ask an adolescent.

If you want to savor life, get connected with your emotional ties.

Emotions rule us however hard we may try to rebuff them.

Realities of life hit us after we have lived our dreams, accomplished them or failed them.

Sometimes I feel detachment is an illusion, a self-created snare we want to walk into unwillingly.

Life is a choice for some and a burden for others, it promises hope if we are ready to wait, it offers opportunities if we approach it with an open mind.

It is a mystery if we have the patience to explore it.

“What is life but the angle of vision? A man is measured by the angle at which he looks at objects. What is life but what a man is thinking of all day? This is his fate and his employer. Knowing is the measure of the man. By how much we know, so much we are.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are the emotional realities of your life? Do they add some sunshine to your life? I would love to hear your views.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh

Are Memories Timeless Treasures Or Learning Experiences?

Memories

Memories are those endless treasures, which we can keep exploring till eternity and bask in their glory like a slow swinging hammock!

Like Ellen Hopkins, let me ‘open that bottle of memories they’re pouring out like wine, crimson and bittersweet.’

We can completely get immersed the moment they start pouring out!

Heartwarming memories, some sweet, some bitter and vivid, long-lasting and precious…unforgettable fond memories, haunt us if we happen to be sensitive as they have a profound connection with our emotions.

Some memories stand before us with extended arms, ready to embrace us lovingly…the first crush, those hands ensconced into each other’s, those amorous glances…that walk in the rain, huddling together…the touch of your new born child, the most precious possession…myriad such moments are stored effortlessly in the mind’s eye.

Happy memories yearn for those times to return, resist and resent change.

Unhappy memories are tenacious, they get entrenched in our minds retaining their ghost like exterior… they can tear us apart with their piercing, menacing eyes.

Repressed memories get embedded in the subconscious mind despite our best efforts to shove them out.

Sometimes I have to close that inward eye to stop the reel of memories so that they bounce back into the subconscious mind.

Sometimes I hear those loud voices…let go…forget the past…detach, I dump all those memories and choose only joyous ones yet they keep returning whenever the connection emerges.

One of my colleagues had a magical eraser, which didn’t leave any mark on the sheet. Sometimes I wish such an eraser could be invented to expunge unwanted memories from our memory bank!

Have you ever thought why certain memories keep coming back?

Have you ever wondered why certain facts, songs, statements or situations can be recalled without any effort whereas important information or textual details have to be read again and again to recollect them?

Psychologists have called the former as implicit memory and the latter as explicit memory

It is this memory, which is called implicit that holds our moments…moments of delight, of exhilaration, of accomplishment, of pride and countless such emotional instants.

We hold them in high esteem, clutch them as if they were the only possessions worthmemories keeping and derive pleasure out of them during our hours of solitude. We keep interacting with them till we realize their material nature.

They come with a large baggage, which we refuse to give up!

“Forgetting isn’t enough. You can paddle away from the memories and think they are gone. But they will keep floating back, again and again and again. They circle you, like sharks.” – Sara Zarr

They also come with some profound lessons if we are ready to discern and digest:

  • Childhood memories are the strongest reminders of love and affection. Handle children with care.
  • Don’t invest all your emotions in one person. Memories of such a person can drain you.
  • Attachments are aching reminders of fond memories.
  • Dwelling in the past is futile as it retrieves painful memories.
  • All people we meet leave an impact on our life. Avoid negative people as much as you can.
  • Memorable people affect us deeply with their qualities. They give us good memories.
  • Earliest happy memories convey life-lessons of happiness and relaxation, which are picked up from parents and siblings.

Memories are like roses of various hues in their raw form, thorns are the natural attachments unless we scratch them away. I have embraced all the shades and tones and learnt from each one of them. I had no choice.

During the prime of our life we keep gathering them, unaware of the thistles, which start piercing us as we mature.

I have a very vivid childhood memory of a thorn, which pricked me, broke and got embedded in my finger. I came running to my mom, crying and wondering whether she could lessen my pain. She pulled the thorn out mercilessly, without caring to be soft.

I wish this memory too could have been pulled out as harmlessly as that thorn!

But memories are etched permanently on the canvas of our mind.

Do you have such memories? Have they been your learning experiences? I would love to hear your views.

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Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.