Cure for Self-Absorption

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So why a picture of the sea? When I stand on the shore and look at the vastness of the sea and the horizon, I become very conscious of how tiny I am in this universe. And I am filled with emotions that I can’t really describe. Is that what happens when the soul is praying?

A sudden downpour, and for reasons I don’t really know, I remember days I spent at the convent (when I tried to become a nun.)

One of the things I liked about being there was doing the evening prayers with the Sisters. We read from the Breviary and then there was a part for personal intentions, where the Sisters (and later I, myself, having learned from them) prayed for other people we did not really know – the ones in hospitals, those who were traveling, the lonely, etc.

Looking back, I find when we think of those who are suffering and try to feel what they are going through, then we not only realize that other people are suffering so much more than we are, but also we become less self-absorbed and consequently avoid magnifying our troubles.

Right now I’m hearing someone complain about his job, and I think of those who are desperate for a job.

I pray (to God if there is one) for the people of India suffering from the heat wave, that their suffering will come to an end.

(Now I know the reason for remembering: a friend texted me about cloudburst, to which I replied “better than heat wave in India”, then I remembered days I spent in the convent.)

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The Yellow Flower

gladiolus

Rain falls on the yellow gladiolus.
Like gentle kisses on its petals,
Glistening in the light,
Droplets of rain
Draw its beauty out.

Alone among the reeds,
It blooms and opens
And looks up to the sky
And welcomes the rain
That gives it beauty, life.

Somewhere else
There’s a white gladiolus
But for now, alone among the reeds,
The yellow gladiolus is happy to be yellow
And to be kissed by the rain.

********

It was drizzling when I walked to work today. I stopped by the wooden bridge to have a closer look at this yellow gladiolus that stood alone among the reeds by the lake. Beautiful. I thought it looked even more beautiful with the raindrops on its petals.

And then…

Rain must fall…

It rained the other day, and I unhappily walked to work. The sky was gray, the roads were wet, and it was a little chilly. Then I saw the plants and how green they seemed in the rain, and I stopped to look at one tiny plant with droplets of rain on its leaves. It was beautiful. I took a picture of it, and later showed it to a friend who reminded me that without water there’d be no life or growth.

rain

Though I agree with it, I still find walking in the rain in the morning depressing. Somehow it’s different from walking in the rain at night when you don’t really see anything but just hear the sound of the rain on your umbrella, and the smell of dry earth as the rain touches it. And that’s nice.

Looking at the picture of that tiny plant I saw yesterday, these lines came to mind:

“Into each life some rain must fall,/ Some days must be dark and dreary.”

Must. 

Who wants sadness? “Normal” people will say nobody. But some people actually like sadness as it brings them closer to themselves, makes them see the world and its people from a different perspective, and consequently helps them gain confidence in themselves.

The Chinese often wish their friends “happy everyday”. I would like to be happy everyday, but I am all too aware that it is impossible; so, my awareness of its impossibility makes me savor every second of that moment of happiness when it comes.  Its ephemerality is what actually makes it worth experiencing.

Imagine if you were happy everyday: you do whatever you like, and nobody makes you feel guilty for doing so;  no one that you dislike bothers you; no one upsets you (especially your boss or spouse  or boss/spouse); everyday you have only happiness. I’m almost certain you will get bored with happiness, and you will say to yourself, “There must be more to this life than just being happy.”

We appreciate the sunshine more after the rain. And we appreciate the rain after the drought.

When I look back at my life, I find that all those times I suffered, wept, and felt like it was better to put an end to my life were the times I came to know myself better and to love myself a little more, and it gave me the confidence that I could survive whatever came my way.

Without water there would be no growth. Without rain in our lives, without sad and dreary days, we would never grow stronger, never learn to cherish the little happiness we experience every now and then.

Thank God for the rain (but not for the typhoon!)