Daily Prompt: Relieved 

This may sound very simplistic, but it is quite true: when I am stressed out, all I need is some alone time (not necessarily a quiet place, but a place where I don’t have to talk to anybody) and a bit of nature to to look at — flowers, trees, lake — and then I can recover. My problems may not be solved, but at least I’d have the energy and the clarity of mind to face them.


When people are unhappy about things, they want to cure themselves of this unhappiness as quickly as possible, and do things that most often just add to their unhappiness. I think we ought to embrace this unhappiness first before we let it go. And then we can look to nature to remind ourselves that everything is being taken care of.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” –Luke 12:27

I believe nature can help heal our unhappiness. We just need to spend time with it and be relieved of our worries by it.

Nature loves patience: always remember that. It is a law given her of God Himself, who has blessed all those who are strong to endure.” –– Gogol, Dead Souls

May you find relief from all your troubles. 💕
T.


Daily Prompt: Relieved

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Thoughts on Passions, Boredom, and Kindness from Gogol’s “Dead Souls” 


It took me a while to finish reading Nikolai Gogol’s Dead Souls. I have to be honest and say, I did not enjoy reading it as much as I did Dostoevsky’s novels. This is bias on my part, perhaps, because I am a Dostoevsky fan. It was an almost an effort reading this novel to the end.

Still I am glad I finished reading it even though the novel itself ends in mid-sentence.

Here I would like to share some of the lines that I highlighted and why they struck me.

“For human passions are as numberless as is the sand of the seashore, and go on to become his most insistent of masters. Happy, therefore, the man who may choose from among the gamut of human passions one which is noble!” 

The mistake of Paul Ivanovitch Chichikov, the main character, is choosing the ignoble passion of greed, of wanting much more than what he has, and doing everything he can, even if it is wrong, just to get ahead.

Yes, it is human nature to desire, but not everything we desire can be ours. This is the reason it is most often not a good idea to just  do “whatever makes you happy.” If every single one of us just does whatever makes us happy, will we all be happy? Someone is bound to cry.

This is not to say that one cannot be happy without consequently hurting other people. Rather, there are many things that can make one happy that won’t hurt others at all, but there are a few things that will surely hurt the others that one cares about if one selfishly follows the desires of one’s heart. I think every human being has been through this kind of dilemma.

“Weariness of everything is a modern invention. Once upon a time one never heard of it.”

Platon Mikhalitch is a young and rich landowner who is weary of life. He finds life and work boring. He visits his neighbor, Peter Petrovich Pietukh, whom he finds annoying because the latter is always cheerful thinking of what to eat next, while he, Platon, is always gloomy.

I can understand weariness of life, and if I have a choice between a long or short life, I’d choose the latter (just until my son can live on his own). However as I still have life and the ability to move, I can think of so many things to do. The problem is not having enough time to do all the things I want to do. So I do not understand boredom when I am doing something.

Maybe it’s because people are made to think that their work has to be fun or exciting or interesting that has caused them to get bored with their jobs. WORK is work. In the past, people worked the land to put food on the table. I don’t think they considered whether it was fun to do or not. They just did it.

Now people don’t have to work so hard to put food on the table, and they get bored. Easily.

So I agree with the author: Weariness of everything is a modern invention. 

“Therefore, if it really be that you have no genuine love for doing good, do good by FORCING yourself to do so. Thus you will benefit yourself even more than you will benefit him for whose sake the act is performed.” 

Murazov spoke these words to Chichikov after the latter confessed to his lack of real love for what is good and only wants acquisition of property.

Murazov is a wise man. He knows how habits are formed. Even doing good deeds can be made into a habit. In the same way, forcing ourselves to be kind to people we don’t particularly like will benefit us even more than it will benefit them. How?

Eventually we will forget why we didn’t like them in the first place. And if we do not dislike anyone, then our minds are more at peace. Nobody’s living rent-free in our heads. (The irony is the more we dislike someone, the more often we think about them. And nothing is more annoying!)

*****

Published in 1842, Dead Souls is supposedly “widely regarded as an exemplar of 19th-century Russian literature.” But for some reason, I do not find it as interesting, as thought-provoking or as moving as The Brothers Karamazov or The Idiot or Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky’s novels, their characters and their stories are somehow more memorable. But as I’ve spent time on it, I made sure I learned something.

Have a peaceful week! 💕

 

T.

To a Wonderful Father 

You dreamt dreams
Bigger than mine were
Before he was born.
They grew even bigger
Weeks and months
After he was born.
Then we were told
Something was wrong.
It would take a while
For him to start talking.
Our friends told us
He may never go to college.
And we were crushed.
You, with the bigger dreams,
Devastated.
But you bounced back.
You fought
And continue to fight
For this little boy
We brought to this world.
You changed
From a dreamer
To a realist.

No more dreaming.
Just doing everything that is best

For your son.

Happy Father’s Day to all wonderful fathers! 

Daily Prompt: Create 


Create. I pondered on this word and realized this should make any creative, thinking human feel humble. We try to “create” beautiful things, useful things, amazing things, but what we create can never surpass nature. 

Nature’s beauty and design are beyond amazing. 


Have an amazing Saturday!
T. 💕
Daily Prompt: Create

Film Review: Me Before You 


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I heard about Me Before You from my friend who thinks the romantic moments in the movie are “right up your alley.” I’m glad my friend thinks I am the romantic type instead of cold-hearted, but the most touching moments of the movie for me, have nothing to do with the love story but the ones in the background. I watched this movie while on a 2-hour flight, and my eyes were red by the time we landed.

There are only two areas on which I would limit my review: character and themes.

(Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then stop reading.) 

Character:

I find the character of Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) too nice, meaning not very credible. She is too likable. The audience are meant to like her, and I did like her and if she were a real person, I’d wish her infinite happiness. But a part of me is conscious of the manner in which her character is so contrived as to make viewers instantly like her. So, that’s one of the few things that didn’t impress me.

Her boyfriend, Patrick, is just as flat: self-absorbed to the end. There is nothing about the boyfriend that will make us like him even just a little bit. As a minor character, he serves a foil to the thoughtful character of Will.

The parents of Louisa and those of Will (Sam Claflin) on the other hand, though minor characters seem more real than the previous two mentioned.

As one of the two main characters, Will Traynor is fully developed as a character: from a fun-loving, adventurous, successful young man to an unhappy, helpless, hopeless quadriplegic, who finds a reason to smile in Clarke’s quirkiness.

Themes:

Selfishness/Selflessness 

As people we swing between the selfishness/selflessness pendulum. Louisa selflessly decided to keep a job in her hometown to help her parents. But later she selfishly asked Will to forego his plan to end his life in Switzerland, telling him confidently (to me, it’s more like overconfidently) that she could make her happy.

People may not view her offer as selfishness especially when she is willing to take care of him, but I do. She’s thinking of her own happiness, not his pain, not his daily struggle. I believe no one outside ourselves can truly make us happy or comfort us in our deepest sorrows. Sure, there are those who can make us smile for a while, but at the end of the day we deal with our own thoughts and feelings.

Choice

When told that it’s Will’s choice to end his life in Dignitas in Switzerland, Mrs. Clark says, “Some choices you don’t get to make. He [Will] is not in his right mind.” But Will is in his right mind; he made a choice after careful thought. He knows he’s never going to get better. He is in pain every single day. He cannot do anything by himself.

While I admire people with disability who are optimistic about life and fight to live despite all the pain and difficulties that come with it, I also respect those who choose to leave this world and end the pain that they have to bear daily, and no longer see how much those who love them suffer as much as they do in caring for them.

Louisa is confident that she’ll never regret being with Will and taking care of him, but Will is more realistic and says, “You don’t know that.” It is not easy to care for someone who is in terrible pain and who is never going to get better because they themselves do not find it the least bit easy to live on a daily basis.

Will Traynor’s parents at first don’t want to let him go. He is their son. Their only child. The natural cycle is for children to bury their parents, not the parents burying their child. But in the end they have to give in to his wish and let him die, with them by his side. That takes a lot of courage. This is the most touching moment in the movie for me –the parents being there for their son.

As a mother, I almost feel physical pain when I see my son in pain. When he cries because he’s hurt, it’s painful to watch. So I can only imagine how painful it must be for parents to watch their son/daughter in pain on a daily basis, and worse, to watch him die.

Me Before You is a romantic drama, and romantic souls will like this movie. However, the romance part didn’t move me at all. It’s the idea of having the right to end one’s life and parental love that made me think.

Have a relaxing weekend!
T 💕

P.S. One other thing I like about this movie is the soundtrack. I especially love Imagine Dragon’s “Not Today.” Click here for a link to the video.

Focus on the Ephemeral 


Just like I don’t have the confidence to call myself a writer, I cannot ever call myself a photographer. But I enjoy writing and taking pictures among other things that introverts like myself enjoy doing.

When I take photos, I try to make them look the same way I see them with my own eyes. And to me it can be very difficult sometimes because first, my hands aren’t very steady; second, I do not know much about lighting and that kind of stuff; and third, I just use either my iPhone or my iPad to take pictures.

One time while I was walking with a friend, I stopped to take pictures of flowers, and he shook his head and asked, “Why do you take pictures?”

Good question. That time I only said because I like doing so. But having thought about it, I think I now know the answer.

Perhaps subconsciously it is an attempt on my part to capture moments that are simply that — moments, ephemeral, temporary. There may be flowers and leaves and trees everywhere, but as Robert Burns said, “And this same flower that smiles today, / Tomorrow will be dying.”

They may look the same, but it’s not the same flower, not the same moment, not the same minute.

Every photograph is a record not only of the subject (flower, leaf, sunset, or ocean) but also of a certain ME, at a certain time, at a certain place with a certain person. Everything we do leads us somewhere. We are always changing. Everything around us changes. As Heraclitus famously said, “No man can ever step in the same river twice.”

You can’t record every minute of your life. But you can keep photographs of certain moments of it.

Have a lovely week!
T.💕

Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus