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This is one I had actually written in 2006, but had trashed because no one quite fit the bill. I had NO idea back then that 4 years later, it would all make perfect sense! I surprised myself, re-reading it now. Have edited a few words here and there to suit the “now” better, but the basic content is still the same.

There was something about him I couldn’t quite define

But he did, most certainly, my whole life refine!

Came in not by chance, but by intervention divine,

Swept my feet off the ground though I wasn’t even in line,

Brought a smile to my lips, made my face with joy shine -

He’s more than I could ask for and I believe that he’s mine,

Just as I belong to him and together we’re thine.

For we are the branches and you are the vine;

On the works of our hands you’ve stamped your own sign -

Pruned, crushed, fermented – soon you’ll pour out new wine!

While here on earth, we’ll strive to be as brine

Till that day when we’ll meet you and together we’ll dine.

Yesterday's Buds

Today's Blossoms

Tomorrow's Fruit

The same is true of both blessings and disasters. That’s why, when it comes to the latter, they say, “Nip it in the bud.”

Sparkling Specs

I awoke today & lay gazing in reverie at the ray of light streaming in through the skylight in my loft, when this inspiration struck me.

Have you ever wiped a thick grey-brown layer of dust off a shelf or pile of books with your finger and looked at it in disgust? Have you also gazed, like I did, at a ray of sunshine streaming in through a window or a crack, mesmerized by its beauty as the dancing flecks glistened and gleamed?

Very often, I find that we are like dust. Dull. Dry. Dead. Dirty. Until troubles come and shake things up, cause a stir, kick up the dust… It’s then we begin to rise, resurrected, revived. And as the sun glances in from above, we forget we are dust and dance instead as sparkling specs, basking in the light of His glory.

That, I believe, is the ashes to beauty experience.

LMBO

You know how in the Flatliners, one’s past comes back to haunt them until they make amends? It was sort of like that for me yesterday, but with a twist. Whereas in the movie, the people of the past were back to take revenge, in my case there was grace, and probably more than I deserved. But the effect, if anything, was stronger and more permanent than revenge could ever achieve.

It’s like this… Once upon a time, I had laughed my butt off in the face of someone for something they didn’t quite do well. Let me simply call this person, “Ramona”. Well, Ramona and I both got caught up with life and I had quite forgotten about her altogether. But as it turned out, she went on to excel and become well-known in the very same thing I had laughed at her for. Now, all these years down the line, Ramona was actually being nice to me, even allowing me to witness and be a part of her ‘guts and glory’. I looked for the expected shades of pride and the “ummm-so-you-were-saying?” attitude, but not finding much, I had to take it as genuine.

First of all, it felt like a jab in my guts, a payback that proved I had been wrong back then. Then it made me want to slit my own throat for having been such a jerk in the first place. Most of all, it made me feel ashamed – ashamed that I had to be taught a lesson in grace from someone I had once written off as useless.

I would have liked to soothe my wounds by telling myself that perhaps my ridiculing Ramona is what first angered and thereby motivated her to prove me wrong and get where she is. But that would have been very vain, conceited and irresponsible (not to mention, supremely wretched) of me. So, I found myself actually thankful for an opportunity to set the record straight, as humbling as it was.

Ramona is just one person, but I have been wondering how many others I might have mocked in the past for whatever reason. I know I probably won’t be given an opportunity to identify and make it up to every one of them face to face. But let me take this opportunity to say how sincerely sorry I am to every “Ramona” that has ever been derided, both on behalf of myself and also on behalf of anyone else that was responsible for your hurt. And I really mean this:

I was wrong to discount you or treat you in any way less than you deserved. I should have thought of you more highly than I thought of myself. You are NOT useless or good for nothing, as my words or actions might have led you to believe. And for whatever anger, hurt, fear, disappointment or regret I may have caused you, I sincerely apologize. I assure you that I will think a million times before I ever laugh my butt off at someone else’s expense again. I just hope you can find it in you to forgive me. Thank you!

You might be thinking, big deal, this is nonsense! But for someone out there, it is a big deal. So, for all it’s worth, there, I’ve said it.

And if you’ve ever laughed your butt off at me, chill. You’re forgiven. It’s all good.

Early AM On A Plane

Typed this on my mobile the morning of 19 October 2010, en route to the airport early in the AM.

Early AM on a plane -
Bet I’m gonna go insane
For it’s one thing I disdain -
What an awful, awful pain!

I’d rather take a train
Than loose my precious sleep in vain
‘Cause I stand nothing great to gain
And declare it but a bane!

This here’s written by me, Jane.

 

Jack Bauer

Once there was television… And then there was Jack Bauer. Simply described, badass – the biggest, baddest and best television has ever seen.

Stubbornly pursed lips bent on serving out justice, grim eyes that defiantly stare death in its face, brazen boldness both in stride and word coupled with unequalled brilliance of scheme, weapons in skilled hands that miss no mark no fraction of a second too late – the irrepressible federal agent controlled only by self-will and determination, know for his unmatched courage, resilience and resolve despite losing everything to gain nothing for self – so surreal, yet very real even if only on reel is Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland).

For me, and I believe many more across the world, Bauer and “24” have redefined television forever. Never has a character or TV series been so compelling or convincing, thanks to the ingenious concept, script, direction, performances and cut that went into its making. We, the captive audience, couldn’t help but join Bauer in the longest days of his life by spending the longest days of our lives watching every episode of every series back-to-back if we could help it. What was it that mesmerized us so and still holds us in its grip? The heart-thumping action, no doubt… and like it or not, the dissatisfaction – of never getting enough of Jack Bauer. I, for one, can honestly say that 24 was my “twelve” and I struggle with withdrawal symptoms, now that the series has concluded. Seth Godin was right when he said that great brands (and I say, great TV series/characters) are built on dissatisfaction. You have a prime example of that in 24!

What drew me most to Bauer and what I will no doubt remember him most for, though, is his motto to “do whatever it takes to save them and I mean, whatever it takes.” (Dialogue between Jack Bauer and Renee Walker in my favourite season, Season 7) Sure, there has been a lot of controversy about the torture and violence implied and portrayed throughout the series as a means to the end. However, my fascination is with regards to Bauer’s commitment to protect his country and people no matter what the cost. As a federal agent forced to turn fugitive whose wife was killed, daughter estranged, and his own health seriously jeopardized on more than one occasion, he owed his country nothing, least of all after they abandoned him as prisoner to the Chinese and then decided to sacrifice him in order to meet terrorist demands – all of that despite the great service he had rendered his country. Wouldn’t some recognition be in order? A medal of honour, perhaps? Or a bravery award? At least, a chance at a decent life? But, no!

I find it hard to fathom such unquestioned allegiance and dedication to a cause, harder still to implement it in my own life. Season 7 forced me to think hard and question my own commitment to mission accomplishment. Was I willing to do whatever it took? Or would I turn chicken when the going got tough? Worse still, would I turn into a Tony Almeida, agent turned traitor, disillusioned, distraught? Would my losses, failures, fears and regrets rule me or I would I overrule them?

I learned that the name Jack Bauer is believed to allude to the highest card in the game of Euchre, the “bower” being the jack of the trump suit and the most powerful card in any particular round (via Wikipedia). I sincerely pray that in my mission and commission I will come out the “Jack Bauer” in every trial, know that I have been given a spirit of power, believe that I am more than a conqueror with greater strength in me than is in the world. So help me, God!

Free to Fly

Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center

This should have been posted many Sundays ago, but I was waiting to get the in-flight videos & pictures from my hang gliding experience and still haven’t (if you ever go hang gliding at Eastern Shore I recommend you carry your own pen drive to copy the files onto). Anyway, I felt prompted to post it today, so I guess it’s better late than never. Please note that the hang gliding description below doesn’t quite do justice to the actual experience, but I hope will suffice for purposes of this post. I also recommend you play the audio track while reading.

So… 27 June 2010 was the day I first went hang gliding at the Eastern Shore Hang Gliding Center. Amazing experience, to say the least! If you know me well enough, you will know that right from my early years I have talked about flying, becoming a pilot, dreamt of flying without wings, and claim to have actually done so as well. (Yes, I still do.) So hang gliding, for me, was like a fulfilment of those dreams and desires. And really, the season I have been in has been all about fulfilment, completion and restoration of many things right from my childhood that I desired, lost or totally missed out on (see Glee for more details). It has all been very exciting, with many surprises, both good and bad.

Anyways… that Sunday evening when we got back home, we spent time together as a family just worshipping, praying, listening to what God was saying and sharing it… For a long while I just sat there with nothing running through my head except the excitement of the day. Then, as happens many a time, my eyes were opened to look beyond the experience into the life values it taught me and it brought me to tears. So that’s what I want to share, but in order to understand where I’m going with this, I will have to explain the hang gliding experience itself first.

Taking Off

Most often, hang gliding is done by running off a cliff or a hill with the glider so one has high elevation. However, in my case, we had a tug airplane that the glider was attached to. The pilot and I strapped ourselves into the glider and the tug airplane took off with us in tow. Once we had reached a height of about 2500 feet, we released the line that connected us to the airplane. At that point, the momentum slowed down, but the glider did not drop. It got real quiet up there and we were carried by the wind, the only two creatures up that high in the sky as I learned the basics of how to read the wind, feel it, and make the glider go where I wanted it. I asked the skilled pilot a lot of questions that he patiently answered. I just enjoyed the experience so much and the pilot was one of the best too, so he taught me well.

Airborne

At one point I mentioned that I enjoyed a dip and he thrilled me to bits by doing a series of crazy lifts & drops just for my enjoyment before we landed. The view from up there was just breath-taking, and I felt exactly like a bird. When it was time to say goodbye, I heard the pilot tell my brother that I had been a good pilot and had been fun to fly with, much to my pleasure. Maybe he just said that to everyone, but I knew I did pretty good and sure had not done anything he told me not to do, so I just took it at face value. :)

With all of this running through my head that evening, I began to see that in life many times we are led on by something – whether situations or people, sometimes good, other times bad – just like that tug airplane led the hang glider. We find ourselves going to new a whole new level, achieving great things, feeling “on top of the world”, and just having a great time. We think, this is it, it can’t get any better than this! And it’s easy to just get comfortable with where we are, often disregarding the need for progress and improvement.

However, inevitably there comes that time when we are faced with the choice to release, to let go of whatever has brought you where you are. Believe me, that’s a tough choice to make! There’s the fear of what ifs… reluctance… never wanting to let go or spiral down in despair. The truth is, if you don’t make the decision on your terms while you are given the chance, the tug will release you and leave you to face the consequences all the same. But once you do make the choice to let go, you are surprised that you don’t fall. In fact, it’s only then that you actually have the freedom to fly! It’s at that point that the real fun begins! You no longer are merely being tugged along, following something or someone else “in tow”… you literally have “no strings attached”, and you just soar!

Yes, it does get quiet as the tug plane pulls away, but it’s in that quietness that you can hear the pilot’s instructions loud and clear, with no distractions or noise to drown him out. You begin to really listen, observe, experience for the very first time. You pay attention to what the pilot tells you and follow his direction. You’re careful not to make any mistakes and jeopardise both him and yourself. And when you’re up there, you begin to see the bigger picture, the aerial view. You realize from that perspective, things that would otherwise have seemed massive are really tiny and insignificant, mere mites.

Panic might hit you occasionally, but then you realize you don’t have to do this on your own ‘coz whether you like it or not, you have the pilot strapped in right with you! He’s there to tell you what to do, talking to you, answering everything you ask, teaching you… he’s game for even the little things in life, the thrills and chills that make it more exciting and enjoyable. Sure, there is a time to land as well, and with it comes the, “You did awesome! Good job!” that makes you smile in glee, the turmoil of letting go a long forgotten thing of the past.

An old Pepsi jingle that’s running in my head at this moment kind of sums it up for me: “Freedom to be… Azaadi dil ki!” I can tell you it was no coincidence that my brother checked the mailbox that same day, to find his new truck registration in there. It reads: FR3 2 FLY :)

Lock Breaker

The other day, I got back from Chennai after a wonderful conference. I had done a little shopping, and was mighty pleased with the brand new Samsonite Skywheeler I had gotten at a good discount – that was until I tried opening the number lock and it wouldn’t budge. I had followed instructions and set the code correctly, but for whatever reason, it just would not open. Breaking the “unbreakable” exterior was not an option given how much it cost besides being a virtual impossibility, so my best bet was to try & get the zips out of the lock with minimal damage. It took me quite by surprise when after a few moments of pushing & tugging, one zip came loose without breaking anything, and it wasn’t long before I got the other zip out as well – all with absolutely no damage to the suitcase. Even so, for the record, let me say that I fully intend to use only my TSA baggage locks in future!

The incident made me wonder if Samsonite was really as safe and durable as we imagine it is. When I shared my concerns on Facebook, a friend commented that perhaps I had a special talent, and that took me back to a childhood memory I had of opening a magnetic lock (I solemnly swear that this is true and my sister can verify it if you don’t completely believe it). We used to have a lock that used a particular kind of magnet to open it. Back then it must have been the coolest thing that had taken my Dad’s fancy and it was quite by accident that I discovered I could actually open the lock using my thumb instead of the magnet. Others tried doing the same, but it didn’t quite work. Magic? Yeah, sure! It became a trick I put on for show for everyone and even remember my sister asking me to open the lock once when we wanted to get something out of a meat safe and didn’t have the key. I don’t, however, remember doing that ever again.

As I pondered those bygone years and events, I began to sense something in my spirit. I asked the question I often ask of God, “What are you trying to teach me through this? What do you want me to learn?” The answer was plain and clear to me. I needed to remember that I was a “lock breaker”. Yes. As much as I may have a “talent” for breaking open locks in the physical, the same is truer in the spiritual. I was both challenged and emboldened when I realized that. After all, isn’t that what many of us are commissioned to:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Isaiah 61:1 NLT; Matt. 18:18 NIV, Emphasis added)

Even as I write this, I believe if you are reading this, it is not by accident. So be reminded and challenged to step out in boldness and faith, and go break some locks!

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