Tag Archives: perspective

Lenses For Life

We view the world around us – and the people in it – through lenses.

Our focus is often limited to a tiny part of the whole. We see snippets and tidbits of other people’s lives.

We don’t know – let alone understand – the rest.

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Enemies

Enemies

“I drift about without rudder or compass, a wreck on the sea of life; I have no memories to cheer me, no pleasant illusions of the future to comfort me, or about myself to satisfy my vanity. I have no family to furnish the only kind of survival that concerns us, no friends for the wholesome development of my affections, or enemies for my malice– Alfred Bernhard Nobel

Enemies have a purpose.

Looking back over my interactions with people over the years, I’m reminded about some folks who fit the role of my enemies…

  • The childish poseur punk, who mistakes basking in someone else’s glory for fame in its own right, and attacks colleagues and contemporaries in language and tone that speaks volumes of his background and upbringing.
  • The cynical wanna-be who gets petty thrills by putting down members of an online community of which he was (once upon a time) moderator – and now is seething with impotent rage as his ‘super-powers’ have been stripped away.
  • The social media maven whose “lectures from the Mount” she expects the rest of the universe to bow to, obey and accept unquestioningly as their lot in ‘online social’ life.
  • The Fortune 500 consultant who barges into cozy, polite gatherings like a bull into a china shop, taking pleasure in disrupting the social fabric of a happy little community just for the sake of making a trivial point.
  • The “oh so smart” writer who should know better than to glance at my deeper messages and then draw superficial – and silly – conclusions, which he then proceeds to share with hundreds of my peers.

And there are the ‘lesser’ enemies – minor irritants who make daily life on the digital Web that wee bit less fun, that tiny bit more annoying… like mosquito bites on your unprotected hands!

I should harbor, nurse, and cherish that enmity, for the “wholesome development of my malice”.

But somehow, in hindsight, I realize the things they’ve done to attract my ire aren’t worthy of being kept in mind.

In my younger days, I’ve lived by phrases like “Revenge is a dish best tasted cold”, and enjoyed tales of them like “The Godfather” and “The Count of Monte Christo”.

Today, as I work with tiny tots who have been dealt a bad hand by Life, and do what I can to help them beat the odds and survive, a lot else pales in contrast.

Things which I may have obsessed over seem trivial, incidental, insignificant.

Pediatric heart surgery has made me a better grounded person.

Suffering has a cleansing effect – even on observers.

Try this the next time you feel uncontrollable anger, or irrepressible rage, or deep burning hatred against your enemies.

Walk into a children’s hospital. Visit the cancer wing, or the surgical ward.

Look around. Connect with the kids. And then, think again about the enmity.

Does it really matter so much any more?

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Hungry – Reflective

Hungry to Reflective

Contrasting when I was in my thirties against being 40+ years old now, there’s a significant shift in my attitude, perspective and thinking.

Maybe it is similar for many others, too. (Including you?)

Typically, the first 3 decades of our life is spent growing up, and acquiring skills or knowledge. By the time we’re 30, it’s time to put it all into action.

If one word could describe how I felt around that age, it would be “hungry”.

Hungry for fame. Hungry for success. Hungry for wealth.

And for achievement, making dreams come true, and reaching for the stars.

Like a heavyweight boxer who knows every punch he lands in the ring carries the terrible impact of hundreds of hours of training, I knew that my actions will also pack a powerful punch. Behind that lies the force of all the learning and practice that went earlier.

And I was eager to get in as many as I could on target.

Turning forty added one significant shift. Knowing the power that’s available on tap, the question arose of whether or not to use it, and when.

The word that now took precedence over “hungry” was – “reflective“.

No, the ambitions didn’t weaken. The dream didn’t fade. The vision wasn’t growing dim.

But alongside it, another presence grew stronger – and it kept asking “Why?”

There was a time when I wouldn’t think twice about staying up all night working on something important, just to get it done. Today I wonder if that’s really necessary.

There were occasions where I would happily plot the downfall of someone – a competitior, a rival, a critic – who got in the way of my eager enthusiasm to work towards a challenging goal. These days, I don’t think it matters so much as getting things done in another way, bypassing him (or her).

There used to be circumstances when I’d place my fiery desire for a worthy result ahead of everything else in my life. Now, the passion still burns strong – but isn’t a constant, roaring, all-consuming flame.

I have grown reflective.

Because my philosophy has changed.

With wider experience, more reading, intimate interaction with more people, and a deeper empathy with cross-sections of humanity I’ve never known (or cared much for) earlier, there are many more and variegated threads in the rich tapestry of my life.

As I ponder these changes at the end of the first decade of a new century, I can’t help but wonder how much more will evolve at each succeeding landmark – fifty, sixty, seventy, and beyond.

I can’t wait to see!

(If you’re older – or even younger – and would care to give it a thought, tell me what YOUR word is for the decade that’s gone, and the one that is. Tweet me @drmani on Twitter!)

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Cremation

Cremation

Recently, I attended a funeral.

Indian custom dictates a long series of ‘last rites’. When the seemingly endless sequence of rituals ended after nearly an hour, the mortal remains were ceremonially consecrated to electric heat of the modern crematorium.

We waited outside for an hour, chatting aimlessly about various things – subliminally aware, all the while, about the event we were soon about to experience.

Finally, the time came.

A young man, bent a little with the weight of his burden, came out carrying a metal box by it’s handles. Each side of the square box measured about 18 inches, and it was 3 inches deep.

It contained all that was left of the man we once knew, respected and loved.

Cremation shifts many paradigms about what we value in life.

Everyone, no matter how great or small, rich or poor, young or old, powerful or weak, influential or ignored – everyone will be reduced to a box full of ash… literally!

Isn’t that a great perspective from which to focus on more than the merely physical?

Think outside the “box”!

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Perspective!

For years, I have operated on little children born with heart defects.

The surgery is complex, risky, even life threatening at times. Families are stressed to breaking point, but they weather that storm with courage and fortitude.

While I thought that I intuitively understood what they were going through, I’m not sure that I really ‘got’ it emotionally… until today.

Because today, I took my nieces for a blood test.

And they went ballistic at the thought of being stuck with a needle!

Cajoling, convincing and coercing them to undergo a test which took barely a minute left me haggard and worn out.

And then, I saw my patients’ families in new light!

Appreciated them more for what they endure, deal with and overcome.

They are heroes – in a very real sense.

And just by walking in their shoes, albeit in a very small way, gave me the perspective to really FEEL their pain.

Do you walk in anyone else’s shoes? For just a little while, at least?

Did it help you feel differently about them?

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