Your Children Are Not Your Children

When I first read these lines in the ‘Road Less Travelled’ by M.Scott Peck, quoted from the original writings of Khalil Gibran, I was confused. What are you saying? My children are my children, I gave birth to them and I did what it takes to grow them in to purposeful adults. However, after listening to it and reflecting on it, I realised how profound these words were. I have created a video with these words of wisdom as you see embedded in this blog. I recommend you watch and listen to the words in the video, reflect on it and then read the rest of the blog.

I believe the impact this video creates is different from person to person. I also believe the impact this video creates for you is determined by the journey of your life so far, where you are in your life now and your aspirations for the journey ahead. Therefore I feel the best contribution I can make is to write about what this poem means to me. Perhaps that might give you another perspective for you to reflect on, perhaps nourish your perspective and move you on to further reflection.

Let me reflect on the verse in two parts;

“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts for they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward not tarries with yesterday.

As I saw my three daughters growing in to become beautiful, graceful, intelligent, confident, loving and caring young ladies, I realised that they were all unique and had amazing lives they were longing to live. The three of them had their own passion and purpose in the areas of political science, fashion and culinary respectively. What an amazing contrast. Thankfully I had read these words when my daughters were very young and had been a student of the notion of purpose. These helped me to let them to grow into the life they were born to live, not to make them follow my profession or do what I believed was best for them.

I realised they belong to the process of life and came through me and not from me. They are miracles that cannot be created by me. It was my responsibility to provide them a secure and nourishing environment to grow, but not to give them my thoughts. They had their own unique ways of thinking. Parenting them was educating for me and my wife, learning how they think and learn. We only housed their bodies as their souls belonged to a higher energy force.

I realised that I was trying to be like them as they were much more talented than I was and it was a joy learning from them many times more than they would have learnt from me. In the middle of writing this I paused to play a card game with my youngest daughter while watching a talent show going on TV. It was amazing how much she knew about types of dances, musical instruments, methods of singing, names of coaches and the best coach/performer fit etc., that I did not know.

The other part of the verse is;

You are the bow from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with his might that his arrow may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; for even as he loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.

My life experience confirms that I am the bow that is responsible to send my children, the arrows in to the future. The more the bow bends the further the arrows travel. Me as the bending bow is synonymous with the ‘stretching’ I had to do to give the best grounding for my daughters. It was about stretching in the areas of learning, balancing demands, dealing with challenges, working, earning and teaching to ensure they, the arrows go far and wide. And as in the last line of verse I realised that the ‘archer’, the God Almighty, loves me as much she loves my children.

I hope this helps you to reflect and make sense of your life.

Wish you purposeful living.

Who Are You?

Do you really know who you are? Well, I am still discovering who I am and I am not sure if I will ever find the answer. However, everyday I live with this question in my mind, I see a little bit more of who I am.

So, how do we find who we are? Each of us might have our own way of defining ourselves, starting with basic aspects such as our gender, nationality, race, etc. and going on to more complex areas such as relationships, sexual orientation, spiritual beliefs, attitudes, beliefs, political aspirations, fears, struggles, intelligences, epistemology, ontology, world views, relationships etc. The aspects are much larger and this is only a few of them.

The quote from José Ortega Y Gasset; “Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are”, gives us an interesting method of finding out who we are. Take a journey of your day, from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. What are the things you pay attention to? What do you notice? Do you pay attention to your health, spirituality, relationships (which relationships?), social concerns, type of news, beneficial to self or others (who?), positivity or negativity, mutuality, aspirations, hobbies, habits etc. This will show you what your ‘values’ are.

Therefore ‘our values’ would be an interesting way of knowing who we are. I recommend you reflect on this question to figure out who you are and perhaps that can lead you to the next two questions; ‘who you want to be’ and ‘how do you get there’. I hope these questions will engage you and give you direction to improve the quality of your life, contributing to a better world.

Wish you purposeful living.

Taking a Break – Is it Purposeful Behaviour?

Image Credits: Humanperformancepsychology.com

I decided to take a break from social media, blogging, tweeting and newsletter writing during October. This is partly to allow my mind to settle down and rest after the extensive online work done in the past 6 months from April to September. It is also due to my calendar getting filled with corporate sessions for clients in UAE, Africa, Solomon Islands. Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.  

On the personal side, it was my second daughter’s wedding which gave us a lot of joy and I needed to release myself from work for this important life event.  We also had two other wedding anniversaries and four birthdays in the family during the month. It looks like October (my birth month) is becoming a month of family celebrations and this perhaps would be the month I take time off from work in the years to come. 

When We Judge a Book by the Cover!

I Dreamed A Dream by Susan Boyle

An amazing perforce that stunned the audience and judges at Britains Got Talent.

Reflection Guide:

As you watch this video, think of the times that you have pre-judged someone by your initial perception. How many time have they surprised you with the real substance in them. Reflect on times that you had been in the receiving end. What learnings do you take from the reflection and what steps would you take to change your attitude and help other change their attitude.

Songs for Growth

Attitude of Gratitude For Those Who Raised You Up

You Raised Me Up by Westlife

Reflection Guide:

As you listen to this song, reflect on those who raised you up so that you can stand on mountains and walk on stormy seas, specially during times of troubles and heart burn with an attitude of gratitude.

Lyrics

When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I…

Songs for Growth

Let the Daffodils Heal You

Daffodils – William Wordsworth

As you listen to this poem, reflect on the wonders of nature and let it heal your pensive mood or broken heart.

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

About the poet — William Wordsworth (1770 — 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature. He was born in Cockermouth, England. His poetry was mainly focused on the nature, children, the poor, common people. Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850.

Where Great Men Are Made

The place which developed thousands of boys to be men of stature for over 165 year, the place I had the good fortune of being nurtured, St Anthony’s Collage in Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka. The picture speaks of the nurturing location on the banks of the Mahaweli river, the space provided for sports signifying the importance of the development of the body in addition to the mind. To write about the great men produced by St Anthony’s will take a few books. All I have is gratitude for my alma mater.

The Pandemic and Temporal Aspect of Purposefulness

Image Credit: Nationalpost.com

In the last 8 blog posts in the ‘purpose quest series’, we explored how the pandemic impacted eight important pillars for purposeful living; spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, physical (health), financial, environmental and societal. Let’s explore the ninth pillar, the ‘temporal’ aspect in this blog post. As in the past eight blog posts let me attempt to describe my personal experience during the pandemic. 

The word ‘Temporal’ has two broad applications; relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs (secular) and relating to time. I use the word in relation to the use of time. The temporal aspect of purposeful relates to the use of limited time. The purposeful person attempts to utilise most of the time for purposeful activity, which requires letting go of non-purposeful activity.

The last eight weekly blog posts in the ‘purposeful quest’ series illustrated how my time was allocated to purposeful activity in spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, physical (health), financial, ecological and temporal areas. These activities took most of my waking time and there was rarely any time remaining for non-purposeful activity during the approximately 16 hours of waking time.

The sense I make from this reflection is that the pandemic gave me so much opportunities to be purposeful, that it left me with almost no time for non-purposeful activities. This way of life has kept me occupied in meaningful and energising activity, giving me inner success, happiness and peace. My purpose is to inspire others to live a purposeful life and I hope this series of blog posts will inspire you too to live a purposeful life and find Success happiness and peace.

How You Lived Will Epitomise Your Death

How Did You Die? – Edmund Vance Cooke

Reflect on the deeper meaning of this poem as you listen to it and read the lyrics below. How did you respond to trouble times? What did you do when you fell down? What is real success & failure? How would you face life’s challenges from now onwards?

Read by Shane Morris – Full Poem:

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way

With a resolute heart and cheerful?

Or hide your face from the light of day

With a craven soul and fearful? 

Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,

Or a trouble is what you make it,

And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,

But only how did you take it? 

You are beaten to earth?

Well, well, what’s that!Come up with a smiling face.

It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,

But to lie there-that’s disgrace. 

The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce

Be proud of your blackened eye!

It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts;

It’s how did you fight-and why? 

And though you be done to the death, what then?

If you battled the best you could,

If you played your part in the world of men,

Why, the Critic will call it good. 

Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,

And whether he’s slow or spry,

It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,

But only how did you die?