If

“If you can..”, it begins and lines out an entire persona of an individual who has conquered life. A life that death feels sad when taking away – such is the life I desire. Here’s the poem by Rudyard Kipling –

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look to good, or talk to wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up again with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings;
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none to much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And which is more-you’ll be a Man, my son!

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Thoughts on friendship

“I’ll get by with a little help from my friends”

Pensive, withdrawn, lonely. The life of the world can be teeming around us, the high decibel sounds can be dinning in our ears and still we can be lonely. It is possible to be lonely in a crowd. Loneliness haunts the places where crowds gather. It is not the presence or absence of people that makes the difference because a person need not be lonely even if he/she is alone. Sometimes it is good to be alone. But that does not make us lonely. It is not a matter of being present with someone. It is a matter of being present to someone. This calls for special communication, special human interaction, special acceptance and understanding. If these are lacking, all we have is lonely people, each encased within his/her own impenetrable shell. No one wants to be lonely. People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.

To dissolve loneliness we need friends. A friend gives warmth, understanding, time, love oneself. A friend stands up to my anger, my selfishness, my short-comings. A faithful friend is a sure shelter. Whoever finds one has found a treasure. In his inimitable way, I suppose Snoopy would cut through the core and say, “Happiness is a friend who lets you be yourself and still loves you.” We need friends because we are social beings, not by choice, but by nature.

“I spent one morning with a friend and wished the day would never end…”

 

You had better be running!

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“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion,
Or it will be killed”

“Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle
Or it will starve to death”

It does not matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion,
When the sun comes up in the morning,
You had better be running!

– Anonymous

Criticism – Give as little as possible

Recently, I stumbled upon a site – BrainPickings – which publishes highly thought-provoking articles in the writing, philosophy, history, art and creativity space. (I recommend bookmarking or subscribing if any of these topics interest you).

I know I have been away from my blog for quite a while – almost close to two years. And it already shows in how sluggish are the thoughts that are forming in my head. So many ideas, thoughts and drafts get lost in the wind before they can become words… but before you criticize me for being away for so long, read below. 🙂

Criticism is one such “commodity” that people are always most generous when giving. Nobody likes to take it. Therefore, more often than not, people spend a lot of time and energy to criticize, which goes to a waste (even if their intentions are in the right place).

Maria wrote about Daniel Dennet‘s views on criticizing with kindness on BrainPickings. Dennet says, to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

While these are excellent points, I presume there needs be another “guideline” – the zero-th rule:

0. You should try to find out if you have a reputation strong enough with the subject that allows for your criticism to be taken constructively. If not, whatever you say will be added as noise to the already-noisy world we live in.

Thus, when criticizing, give as little as possible; or none at all.