Saturday, November 29, 2014

Parenting - a balancing act

Today morning, the second last day of November, was a cold and frosty morning. Dressed in warm clothing and supplemented by a warm cap, I went to drop my daughter to school. She did not want to wear any coat saying that she does not get cold in school. I tried to persuade her to carry a coat but despite my attempts she flatly declined to take anything with her.

And there lies a dilemma that I sometimes encounter. Where do I draw the line in parenting? I know she should dress warmly, and that prevention is better than cure. But if she does not want to do so, despite knowing the advantages and disadvantages, shouldn’t she have the final say for herself?
Parenting, I have realized, is a balancing act.
We need to try and ensure that we protect our child and take care of them. On the other hand we also need for them to be able to experiment with life, to face challenges and to grow from them. If we always impose our will on them, where is the scope for them to grow and learn?

When my daughter was about 10 months old, she attempted to walk. Wobbly and uncertain, she took little steps – and I was there constantly trying to move aside anything that may hurt her. I watched her walk, laughed as her little steps reached the destination. I watched – with my heart in my mouth - as she fell, time and again – and each time she would get up and try again. And she would eventually succeed.

And what joy there was for us all.

We cannot walk for our children but we try and create a safe environment for them to learn, for them to make mistakes and to fall till they succeed eventually.
It has been said that “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”

And an important learning, for me, is that it is necessary for children to learn through their own experiences. Let them sometimes face some difficulties and challenges. Let us not always try and ascertain what is right and wrong for them. For it is through challenging experiences, that they most often learn the bigger lessons of life.
My little girl returned from school today. It was cold, she said. Henceforth she would wear her coat to school.

Sometimes they only just need to experience the cold themselves.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Making a difference

We live a brief span of time on this earth and during this time I am sure that we would like to meaningfully touch the lives of the people around us. We would each want to make a difference.
I used to think - I am only just one person, what can I do? When there are millions of people suffering around the world and thousands around us with little to eat or clothes to wear – what difference can I, as one individual, make?

Then I think about the quote by Helen Keller:
“I am only one
but still I am one
I cannot do everything
but still I can do something
I will not refuse to do
something I can do.”

We have the potential to make a difference in the lives of people around us. One of the biggest mistakes is to do nothing because you think you cannot make a difference. We can do big things or little things – sometimes even as little as a smile or a listening ear to a person in need. And while we cannot help everyone, we can help that one person – and our lives become more significant because of it.
I am also reminded of a beautiful story, I once read:-

A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.
“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”
“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it! You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.”

I hope that you are as inspired by this story as I am and that you will think of it the next time you feel that you cannot do much. Because you can really make a difference – to this one starfish – or to this one person – and that is all that truly matters.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


A human life seems like a long time.
If one lives to a good old age which now seems to be in the 70 years, we are talking about 900 months or 27,000 days or 648,000 hours or so. That seems like a long time. And as we go through it day by day, it appears that it is going slowly.
However, the minutes are ticking and our life is quickly passing us by - though often we don’t realize it. We look forward to our birthdays and new year – with joy and anticipation. We don’t think that with every birthday and every new year, we are moving quickly to middle age and old age and towards the inevitable.

That is not to say that it is a bad thing.
With age comes knowledge and wisdom. With age comes scrapbooks and photo albums filled with a lifetime of memories. And hopefully they are good memories. Hopefully we can look back, during the last leg of our lives, and say that ‘I am happy, my life has been well lived.’
We don’t often see the changes that take place, some small and some big, but changes nevertheless. In living our lives we sometimes get caught up in the small things and often forget about the larger picture. We often take for granted those who matter to us, assuming that they will always be there. It is only when children leave the homes to spread their wings and fly or new babies are born or people die that we realize that change is happening.

And that is fine – because change is inevitable.
The important thing is for us to realize that change is happening all the time and that life really is impermanent. It is important for us to sometimes take stock of our values, our expectations, of the people we hold dear, of the choices we make daily – and to see how we want to go from there. It is necessary to look to each day and see how we can make it worthwhile so that at the very end, we can truly say that our life has been worthwhile.
It has been a happy and well lived life.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lost and Found

In continuing my thought from the last post – I just realised that if we lose or find things in Thimphu, there really is no place where we can contact the other person and return the item. The police seems to be the most likely Lost of Found place of contact. But we all know that the Police have a lot of other work and challenges. And if we lose a key (not stolen), we would not really go to the police to find it. The only other option I see is an announcement in the BBS or Kuzu FM. But for a lost key or a small bag, that does seem quite a tedious and expensive way of making contact.

It may be an interesting idea to explore for our youth. Someone could set up a place (even a website – or phone number) so that if someone has lost something or found something they could call a specific number and get connected with the other person.
Just sharing my thoughts with some possible ideas for our young people to explore.

Would love to hear some of your ideas as well….

Friday, November 7, 2014

The good Samaritan

Are people inherent good or inherent bad? That is a debate that many people down the centuries have been engaged in. Much of people’s thoughts and ideologies have been shaped by their personal experiences in their day to day lives.
I am not here to engage in this debate. Sometimes I feel that people are inherently good, and then there are times when I do see the dark side of human beings, that I am inclined to believe otherwise.
Regardless, I recently had an experience which I thought to share. I had parked my car near the hospital. When stepping outside, in my hurry, I had dropped my car keys and left without noticing it. When eventually I found it missing, I searched everywhere for it – looking under the car, around the car and generally tracing and retracing my steps everywhere.
Eventually with the key nowhere in sight, I got my spare key and started driving home, feeling rather unhappy and disgruntled. I drove slowly, a lot of things weighing on my mind. Two minutes later as I swerved around a roundabout, I suddenly heard the sound of something falling on the roadside.
I couldn’t believe it but with hope in my heart, I quickly stepped out to take a look. There right in the middle of the road was my car key – smooth and shiny. I can tell you, the sight of the key filled me with such warmth and gladness.
I had looked all over, but never thought to look on top of the car. Some good Samaritan had found my key near the car, and not knowing where to keep it or to find me, he/she had kept it on the top thinking it a logical place for me to look.
How grateful I am to that good person, who saved me so much work in making a spare key and in also filling me with hope. There are good people there, who are kind and ready to help. And it is these people who make the world a joyful place to live in.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Resolutions are important ingredients to success. Without them to guide or drive you, one may sometimes become complacent, relaxed and not so inclined to see them though. Often, the thought that something needs to be done may just flit though your mind like a breeze rippling through the leaves. Without something to retain that thought, it may breeze through and leave without a trace – the thought forgotten, the task undone.

However, upon capturing that thought, if you note it in your mind and say, “I will do this by ‘so and so’ day’ and you resolve to have it done, more often than not you will get it done.
In the month of September, I had resolved to write a number of blog entries – and with this resolution in mind, I actually succeeded in writing 8 blog posts (lesser than I had aspired to do but more than I had ever done – so an achievement nevertheless). I made no such resolution in October and hence, with the number of other competing priorities in my life, I am sad to say that I have not written a single post.

Hence I realize the importance of resolution to guide our mind, to manage our time – until one day that it becomes a habit and one doesn’t need resolutions to see them through.
Resolutions are an important life skill for our children to learn as they get older. They should learn to make their own resolutions, initially starting with small and simple ones. This will teach them how to manage their mind and control their ‘will power’ and this in the long run is a critical element of success.

With children let it start small – doable things, nothing ambitious to start with. Let them relish their small successes and in time they can make it work for them so that they can achieve the heights that they want to reach. There is a quote by Ann Landers, “It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings” – and learning to make and keep resolutions is an important life skill that all children need to learn to become happy and successful individuals.

Saturday, September 27, 2014