There are only as many days in the year as you
make use of.”
– Charles Richards
of my favorite expressions is this: “God has given all of us the same twenty-four
hours in a day. To President Obama, Bill Gates you and me… yes, God has given to
all of us the same twenty-four hours in a day.”
have no time,’ is one of lamest excuses in life. “I have no interest,” or “I have
no motivation,” or ‘I have no discipline’… probably, we might find some takers
for these reasons. But, ‘I have no time”, sorry… No way!
observation is: In life, we, always, find time to do the things we love and feel
excited about. If so, the trick is to discover what we love to do… or learn to
love what we do… feel excited about it… Yes, that’s the only way, perhaps, we
can make the most of those twenty-four hours we are endowed with.
days ago, I heard a speaker asking his audience this question: “How many days
do you think are there in a year?”
stupid question!” Yes, that’s how even I thought when the speaker asked.
365. Or, add one more, if it is a leap year.
obvious about it, my dear friends,” the speaker teased his audience, “What is
obvious is this: There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.
Don’t be fooled by the calendar!”
Richard’s quote, which the speaker had used, had driven home the message, so
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself
what makes you come alive. And then go and do that.
Because, what the world needs is people who have come
— Howard Thurman
“A lot of passion goes into it… A lot of
focus and commitment, a lot of discipline and people-skill and, above all, you
need that fire in your belly to succeed, to excel. Mind you, I haven’t still
said, ‘you need ‘talent’…”
Yes, I told this to a young student of
mine, this morning. Andrew Rieu’s magical piece (video) – ‘Nightingale
Serenade’ was being played on my PC as the young-man walked into my office. .
Apparently, he had not heard of the great composer or his music. So, he asked
me innocently, “Sir who is he?”
“Andrew Rieu,” I said, “Not heard of
“No sir,” the boy said sincerely, “But,
this piece is just amazing.”
“Yes, all his music is amazing; He is
one of my favorites… Can’t have enough of him,” “I said to my student. Then, a pause later, I
asked him, “What, in your view, makes any work – not just music – so amazing,
“Hard work sir and loads of luck,” the
young-man did not wait to reply.
“Anything else?” I probed.
“Maybe, a lot of support from others…
Maybe lots of practice… I am just guessing, sir,” the boy was quite sincere.
“Do you have any dream – some burning
dream – to become somebody in life?” I asked lovingly our young-man, “Are you
aware of any God-given talent… something that you know you are gifted with,
love doing naturally… and love doing it without being coaxed?”
“Well, writing,” the young-boy told me
quickly, “I feel happiest when I express myself through my writings… It comes
to me naturally and, it makes me feel confident and fulfilled.”
“So, if you have to take this talent of
yours further… allow it to unfold to the fullest, the way Andrew Rieu has allowed
his music talent to unfold – yes, in your view, what does it take?”
Before our young-man could answer my
question, I wanted to tell him this: “A lot of passion goes into it… A lot of
focus and commitment, a lot of discipline and people-skill and, above all, you
need that fire in your belly to succeed, to excel. And, I haven’t still said, ‘you
We both watched the video – ‘Nightingale
Serenade’ – one more time. And, like thousands in the audience did, we soaked
in it with mind and heart coming to a standstill!
"If I were to say, 'God, why me?' about the bad things,
then I should have said,
'God, why me?' about the good things that happened in my life.”
Some people can charge you with energy, life. Kannan, who must be
older than I am (I am 57), is one of them. You can feel he is coming from yards
and yards of distance… You can feel his energy. And, he can regale you with his
stories – most of them revolve around his countryside adventures… “When it is
pouring, I get into my car… and drive for miles,” he told us this morning in
our Tai Chi class, “I love the interiors, the rustic landscape… simple life,
simple people and simple pleasures. You shouldn’t plan too much, just get into
your car and go… Let the road take you!”
I loved the last line: “Let
the road take you!”
Kannan had to battle
Prostate cancer. He had started Tai Chi as per his doctor’s advice. Yes, he has
immensely benefited from it, as he himself claims. But then, there is one thing that keeps our sanity when we have to pass through our respective harrowing
times… For Kannan, it could be during cancer; for someone else, it could be during something
else… And that thing is: our attitude of gratitude!
Yes, this one thing is
enough to end all our self-pity and blame-game.
Many years ago, in one of
our Workshops, a middle-aged lady narrated her pain in the class and asked that
familiar question, “Why me?”
“Why not you?”, the teacher
asked the lady…
It took the next one hour
for us to grasp the significance of that counter question: “Why not you?”
You know who Nick Vujicic
is and what he does with his life… “It is not a life without limbs,” he goes
around the world inspiring people, “It is a life without limits.” He keeps
drilling into our hearts this, “Don’t complain about what you don’t have; be
thankful for what you have.”
It is tough, sir. It is
tough. Complaining comes to all of us so easily, so naturally. Gratitude doesn’t
come to us that easily, that naturally. So, someone like Nick or Kannan should
come around us to shake us hard: “Come on, if it is pouring hard outside, don’t
sit and crib…Choose to enjoy the rain… Get into your car and drive… Let the
road take you!”
There is that famous
letter attributed to Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon star of sixties and
seventies. During his second heart surgery, due to the infected blood he had received,
Arthur had contacted AIDS. Those were
the early days of AIDS; the awareness was almost not there. So, in his lonely
days, he received thousands of letters from his fans offering wishes and
prayers. One of them read: “Why did God have to select you for such a bad disease?”
Let me rest my case with
the Legend’s legendary reply:
long as there is life, there is struggle. Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s advice – “Jab tak jeevan hai, tab tak sangarsh hai”
– is not there just to help his two sons hold the fort – hang on... It is there
to see all of us through, too. Believe me, at 5, when I was up, today, the
first voice I heard in my heart was this:
“My son, hold the fort; for, I am coming!”
Who is that? Who is that telling me “I am coming”?
The more I observe life from the ringside, the more I get
convinced that we cannot separate our problems and challenges from our life. Before
one ends, another begins… That’s how life goes, actually. So, it is only
sensible to open our eyes and see the reality… that, if we wish to live well,
live valiantly, we should be willing – gladly – to embrace all the struggles
the life brings forth to us…
There are going to be storms through my voyage…
There are going to be thorns along my path…
There are going to be nasty, heartless people making it
difficult for me…
There are going to be doubts and anxieties: “Will I be able
to make it?”… “When is this battle going to end?”
The ability to endure, a little longer, is what I ask God
each morning. For, I know it is He who promises me:
“My son, hold the fort; for, I am coming!”
hundred and fifty years ago, in the thick of a fierce battle, General William Tecumseh Sherman
had given this order to his soldiers: “Hold the fort (against the enemy at
Allatoona) at all costs; for, I am coming.”
Many of us know, that Gandhi would find strength
and courage to deal with the most challenging times in his life on immersing in
his favorite hymns… ‘Vaishnav Jan to’ and the Christian hymn ‘Abide With Me’
are two most influences in his life.
Martin Luther King Jr. had his favorites…
Tagore had his own…
Yes, you and I have our own…
In the midst of the worst of my moments,
and in the thick of my confusion, often, I go back to some of my favorite hymns…
I do not need to be in a cathedral for it… I do not need an altar or a choir
around me… All that I need is my quiet space… all by myself… with the load of all
my problems and confusion weighing over my head… and, my favorite hymn sung by
one of my favorite singers…
Today, it was ‘Suppertime’… the timeless
hymn sung by legendary bass singer, George Younce. This version, particularly,
moved me to tears… and made me soar with confidence… because, it was so amazingly
performed by him on stage despite his fragile health conditions (heart and kidney)…
Just watch at the playful spirit of the man… Just listen to the might of his
voice, his talent…Just feel the life he puts into his craft… yes, till the last
days of his life!
And, when I saw the young singers around
him – probably half a century younger than he was – going on their knees to
sing along, my heart stopped!
In September, 2004, George Younce made
his final stage appearance. It was as a surprise guest at a Bill Gaither event
in Cleveland. There, he sang his signature song, the magical ‘Suppertime’ –
yes, one for the last time… And, to the spell-bound packed audience, he said: “Should
the Master come tonight, I’m packed and ready to go.”
George Younce, the one of his kind, the
legend, died on April, 11, 2005. He was 75. Over 1,500 people attended his
funeral, where the finest singers sang to pay their tribute to the tallest of
them all. Bill Gaither’s (a legend himself and who held George as his Hero) wife,
Gloria, paid her touching homage:
“He taught us to laugh until you cry,
live until you’re free... and not to save face, but save relationships.”
So, here are the lyrics and here is the
song, the hymn - ‘Suppertime’… and, here is my own tribute… to the man, the talent…
the legend. GEORGE WILSON YOUNCE.
When I was but a boy in days of childhood I used to play till evening shadows come. Then winding down an old familiar pathway I heard my mother call at set of sun
Come home, come home It's supper time The shadows lengthen fast. Come home, come home, It's supper time We're going home at last.
One day beside her bedside I was kneeling, And angel wings were winnowing through the air. She heard her call for supper time in heaven And now I know she's waiting for me there.
Come home, come home
It's supper time The shadows lengthen fast. Come home, come home, It's supper time, We're going home at last.
In visions now I see her standing yonder, And her familiar voice I hear once more. The banquet table's ready up in heaven, It's supper time upon that golden shore.
Come home, come home It's supper time, The shadows lengthen fast. Come home, come home, It's supper time, We're going home at last.
Just a few days
ago, in one of THE DAWN CLUB functions, I heard our dear teacher, and my friend,
Swami Brahmavidananda (we still call him fondly Ram Mohan sir) saying this. He
was imparting a crisp message to all our outgoing students. “My dear young friends,
if you remember these three simple mantras
in life, you can handle any situation in life:
said in my mind – ‘Amen’!
Now, let’s mull
over what sir had said…
The first mantra – THINK CLEARLY:
When the mind is
not cluttered, we are able to think clearly. Any situation in life can be handled
well only if we are able to think clearly… never magnifying the situations or undermining
them… Never driven by our prejudices or by public opinions… What people may say…?
What if this happens or that happens…? What if things go wrong…? Will I make a
fool of myself…? Will I be hounded…? Will people remain trustworthy…? I shouldn’t
have done that… I shouldn’t have helped him… I do not have what it takes… I can
never mach up to him… If alone I had a good family support… If alone I had
self-confidence in me/… If alone I had means to complete my education…
Yes, so long as
the mind is cluttered with these thoughts of regrets or anxiety… so long as it
is stuck in their trap, it is unable to think clearly…. It is difficult for us to
handle situations in life well…
The second mantra - FEEL DEEPLY:
Being sensitive and
being sentimental are as different as chalk and coal. The former comes from a
supple mind and a caring heart. All caring begins first with self-care. If we
are able to care for our own well-being first, if we are able to feel loved
enough in life… then alone we are able to truly care for others, empathize with
them... reach out to them. Others’ problems are not our problems… The moment we
are too preoccupied with solving others’ problems or trying to change the
world, our trouble would begin.
So, by the second
mantra – ‘Feel Deeply’ – what I understand
is that when we have a sensitive mind and a caring heart, we only become
stronger, wiser and richer. On the other hand, when we have a sentimental mind and
a heart which has not cared for itself, it is difficult to handle situations in
The third mantra –
It is our ability
to think clearly and feel deeply – yes, when combined together – would enable
us to act decisively.
To me, it is summarized
in Lord Krishna’s advice to the troubled Arjuna… What an appropriate setting –
the battle ground!
To me, it is, also, summarized in the last hours of Jesus Christ’s life… His mind has become weak,
it is cluttered, and the heart has lost its strength. He is frightened, he is
in pain… He knows what is coming… the humiliation and torture, pain and agony…
So, he goes to Gethsemane Garden, falls on his knees, and prays, all alone, the
greatest prayer of His life – "Father, do away this cup (test) from me; but, if
it is Thy wish, Thy will be done.”
When the prayer
is done, the mind is clear… the heart has rested… Jesus is ready to face the
situation… The ‘cup’… The ‘test’.
Last night, there
was this message in my FB inbox. It was from Sushil Shankar, a dear old student
and friend of mine. He wrote:
“Hi Gerry sir, I read your post on Father’s Day. It inspired me
to write on my father, too. Please read and evaluate.”
daughter wished me “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY”.
It made me go back in my past… I lost
my father to diabetes 32 years ago. He had just crossed 50 years.
He was a Diabetes-Mellitus patient,
with foot ulcers. Later on, he developed kidney failures and died during
dialysis procedure. His body couldn’t bear the dialysis, which already was
suffering the after-effects of medication and diabetes.
When my dad was alive, I don’t
remember celebrating a Father’s Day or any such days which are in vogue now.Only my and my brothers’ birthdays were what we celebrated. We never
celebrated our dad’s birthday. I have one sibling left, and he doesn’t even
know our father’s date of birth!
My father never visited any temple or
place of worship. He never believed in God as a stone… He was against all
religious practices and rituals. He had a heart to help anyone in trouble. An
incident, which is etched in my mind, is about a youth he had helped against
was located near a road and was on the ground floor. Anyone who came in to our building area
encountered our house first. It wasn’t unusual for people passing by to stop
and ask for drinking water.
So, sometime before my father passed
away in March 1985, on a Sunday afternoon, we were eating lunch.Some people came to our house and asked for drinking water. As
usual, we gave a bottle of water. A few minutes later, again more water was
requested. By then, we had finished our lunch. My father asked me to go and
find out who was needing so much of water. I checked outside and saw around a
tree a gathering of people from nearby houses. On reaching the spot, I
found a youth, who seemed to be in his early twenties. He was lying there under
the tree. He was looking sick, tired and very dirty. Bad smell was emanating
when we stood near him. He had a watch with him and he was holding it out for
I went back to my house and recounted
the scene to my father. He wanted to see the situation himself.So, he came to the scene of the incident. People around were
saying that the youth might be a thief, trying to sell a stolen watch etc…
My father inquired with the
boy. The boy told, that he was travelling from Delhi to Miraj. His sister worked
as a nurse in a hospital there. During the journey, the boy suffered diarrhea.
In one of his rounds to the loo, his wallet with money and tickets slipped out
and fell into the train tracks.His father, a retired army person,
was an amputee. He had spent two days in Mumbai for help. Some people had directed
him to our residential area since there was a large Malayalam-speaking
population. The boy was a Keralite born in Delhi… Well, this was what the boy
claimed to us as his story…
Meanwhile, some people had informed
the police. The police came to get the boy. He looked terrified seeing the
police. My father decided to help the boy. He told the inspector, that he would take
the responsibility of the boy. Thus, he went to the police station, gave a
written guarantee to this effect and he brought the boy home.
At home, the boy was made to bathe, given
a set of clean clothes, and served hot food. My father asked me and an uncle to
go with the boy to CST ( It was V.T Station then) and place the boy on a train
to Miraj.We purchased ticket for the boy and saw him off, handing him
some additional money for his expenses during the journey.
What I still remember distinctly is
this: everyone had advised my father not
to trust and help the boy. But my father told them straight: “I have a young
son, who will, also, go out into the world… He can, also, be in a situation
like this boy, one day.”
My father was convinced about the
boy’s story and innocence. Later on, I came to know, that the money which
was given to the boy was a part of our monthly milk allowance!
Some days later, we received a
letter. It was from the boy’s elder sister. She profusely thanked my father for
the timely help to her brother. My father was no more by the time the letter
life, I have struggled at various instances and places. In these situations, I
have received help from many people around me. I truly believe, that the help
which my father did that day, years ago, still helps me – his own son - in
Thank-you father for being the father
you were. I do not know where you are… but, in my heart, I remember you every
“A HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.”
It was 11 in the
night when I read this message… and, it was the first blog post Sushil had
attempted to write. Yes, as he claimed, inspired by my own post… The post had
touched me… because there was ‘heart’ in it… That was my evaluation….
really enough, dear Sushil. Write with your heart, and write regularly. Best wishes
I had promised
Sushil, that I would be sharing his post with my readers, today. I have kept my
P.S. With Sushil’s
permission, I have taken a small liberty to shuffle some words/lines here and