Enjoy And Appreciate The Roses — Despite The Thorns

“You have to believe that who you are is okay now but also that you are capable and deserving of being something more, different, and better. You have to believe that even when others don’t believe in you and your ambitions and your perspective, that their opinions do not have to be your reality. And you have to believe that you have more good days than bad days if you’d just count your blessings more. Your perspective is everything so choose it wisely. “

Thought Catalog

Perspective. It’s a word that gets thrown around quite a bit. And I am probably one of the worst offenders. But I am unapologetic about it, because I believe that people as a whole, need better perspective. Life isn’t a bed of roses, and even if it were, roses still have thorns; thorns that could potentially hurt you. But perspective is being able to enjoy and appreciate the roses in one’s life, despite the thorns.

I have never met a person who didn’t have disappointments. I have also never met a person who hasn’t failed at something. I’d go as far as saying some of the people who I look up to the most – including my parents and siblings – have failed terribly. But the reason why I look up to certain people over others is that they don’t allow their failures to define them or make them bitter…

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damn it, you’ve got to be kind

I nearly cried the first time I saw the video. I heard the song was when I was having a miserable time at work, the beautiful melody caught my ear and I was hooked. There’s a genuine sense of vulnerability that a lot of songs nowadays lack. You can tell that the lyrics meant something to whomever wrote the song. It wasn’t just some mass produced hit meant to sell records. It’s a bit gut wrenching when you think about the meaning behind the video. Seeing the video put things in perspective, and made me realize that every one is fighting a hard battle not just me. We’re all just trying to get by while trying to make a semblance of meaning of all the struggles along the way.

It’s truly making me appreciate my parents. Despite the rough patches we’ve been through, there’s still love underneath it all. My father may not be the first person I think of when I think of my hero, but he does what he can to provide for the family.  The New York Times recently delved into varying definitions of the word hero. I don’t know what your definition may be, it may be completely different from mine,  but I don’t think heroes merely exist in the pages of comic books or in summer blockbusters. I think heroes are people who have the courage and the moral perseverance to do something for the greater good of the people around them. It need not be a herculean task, it can be standing up for someone being talked down upon, or voicing out the wrongs seen.

I’ve had many heroes in my life and I use them as beacons of who I aspire to be. I think that the most admirable thing about my heroes is that despite the strife they face, they’re motivated by love and faith in humanity. I do not want to live a life seeking revenge for all those that wronged me or worse: to be propelled by hatred. It’s easy to be hardened by the trying times. Every morning when I wake up to NPR, I hear of the civil unrest in Syria, or the dire state of the American economy, or some other atrocities here or overseas. It’s really hard not to grow bitter and cold, it’s much easier to be pessimistic and lose faith in people’s capacity for good. However, when I see an everyday act of heroism from coworkers, friends or bystanders I remember that the world isn’t all bad after all. There are still people out there willing to break their passivity to make a stand. It might seem naive, but I’d like to think that its not fame or money that propels them to act, but love. I still believe in the inherent goodness and altruism in people. It’s still a beautiful place despite the seeming bleakness of the times. I’ve quoted it time and time again, but I too need a reminder from one of my heroes:

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”- Kurt Vonnegut

It’s 2:45am now and I have to get to lab in a few hours. When inspiration strikes, I just go with it. If you made it this far, I hope all is well and thank you for sparing your time gracing your eyes on my random rambles.

On Seeing The 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning

by Haruki Murakami

One beautiful April morning, on a narrow side street in Tokyo’s fashionable Harujuku neighborhood, I walked past the 100% perfect girl.

Tell you the truth, she’s not that good-looking. She doesn’t stand out in any way. Her clothes are nothing special. The back of her hair is still bent out of shape from sleep. She isn’t young, either – must be near thirty, not even close to a “girl,” properly speaking. But still, I know from fifty yards away: She’s the 100% perfect girl for me. The moment I see her, there’s a rumbling in my chest, and my mouth is as dry as a desert.

Maybe you have your own particular favorite type of girl – one with slim ankles, say, or big eyes, or graceful fingers, or you’re drawn for no good reason to girls who take their time with every meal. I have my own preferences, of course. Sometimes in a restaurant I’ll catch myself staring at the girl at the next table to mine because I like the shape of her nose.

But no one can insist that his 100% perfect girl correspond to some preconceived type. Much as I like noses, I can’t recall the shape of hers – or even if she had one. All I can remember for sure is that she was no great beauty. It’s weird.

“Yesterday on the street I passed the 100% girl,” I tell someone.

“Yeah?” he says. “Good-looking?”

“Not really.”

“Your favorite type, then?”

“I don’t know. I can’t seem to remember anything about her – the shape of her eyes or the size of her breasts.”

“Strange.”

“Yeah. Strange.”

“So anyhow,” he says, already bored, “what did you do? Talk to her? Follow her?”

“Nah. Just passed her on the street.”

She’s walking east to west, and I west to east. It’s a really nice April morning.

Wish I could talk to her. Half an hour would be plenty: just ask her about herself, tell her about myself, and – what I’d really like to do – explain to her the complexities of fate that have led to our passing each other on a side street in Harajuku on a beautiful April morning in 1981. This was something sure to be crammed full of warm secrets, like an antique clock build when peace filled the world.

After talking, we’d have lunch somewhere, maybe see a Woody Allen movie, stop by a hotel bar for cocktails. With any kind of luck, we might end up in bed.

Potentiality knocks on the door of my heart.

Now the distance between us has narrowed to fifteen yards.

How can I approach her? What should I say?

“Good morning, miss. Do you think you could spare half an hour for a little conversation?”

Ridiculous. I’d sound like an insurance salesman.

“Pardon me, but would you happen to know if there is an all-night cleaners in the neighborhood?”

No, this is just as ridiculous. I’m not carrying any laundry, for one thing. Who’s going to buy a line like that?

Maybe the simple truth would do. “Good morning. You are the 100% perfect girl for me.”

No, she wouldn’t believe it. Or even if she did, she might not want to talk to me. Sorry, she could say, I might be the 100% perfect girl for you, but you’re not the 100% boy for me. It could happen. And if I found myself in that situation, I’d probably go to pieces. I’d never recover from the shock. I’m thirty-two, and that’s what growing older is all about.

We pass in front of a flower shop. A small, warm air mass touches my skin. The asphalt is damp, and I catch the scent of roses. I can’t bring myself to speak to her. She wears a white sweater, and in her right hand she holds a crisp white envelope lacking only a stamp. So: She’s written somebody a letter, maybe spent the whole night writing, to judge from the sleepy look in her eyes. The envelope could contain every secret she’s ever had.

I take a few more strides and turn: She’s lost in the crowd.

Now, of course, I know exactly what I should have said to her. It would have been a long speech, though, far too long for me to have delivered it properly. The ideas I come up with are never very practical.

Oh, well. It would have started “Once upon a time” and ended “A sad story, don’t you think?”

Once upon a time, there lived a boy and a girl. The boy was eighteen and the girl sixteen. He was not unusually handsome, and she was not especially beautiful. They were just an ordinary lonely boy and an ordinary lonely girl, like all the others. But they believed with their whole hearts that somewhere in the world there lived the 100% perfect boy and the 100% perfect girl for them. Yes, they believed in a miracle. And that miracle actually happened.

One day the two came upon each other on the corner of a street.

“This is amazing,” he said. “I’ve been looking for you all my life. You may not believe this, but you’re the 100% perfect girl for me.”

“And you,” she said to him, “are the 100% perfect boy for me, exactly as I’d pictured you in every detail. It’s like a dream.”

They sat on a park bench, held hands, and told each other their stories hour after hour. They were not lonely anymore. They had found and been found by their 100% perfect other. What a wonderful thing it is to find and be found by your 100% perfect other. It’s a miracle, a cosmic miracle.

As they sat and talked, however, a tiny, tiny sliver of doubt took root in their hearts: Was it really all right for one’s dreams to come true so easily?

And so, when there came a momentary lull in their conversation, the boy said to the girl, “Let’s test ourselves – just once. If we really are each other’s 100% perfect lovers, then sometime, somewhere, we will meet again without fail. And when that happens, and we know that we are the 100% perfect ones, we’ll marry then and there. What do you think?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is exactly what we should do.”

And so they parted, she to the east, and he to the west.

The test they had agreed upon, however, was utterly unnecessary. They should never have undertaken it, because they really and truly were each other’s 100% perfect lovers, and it was a miracle that they had ever met. But it was impossible for them to know this, young as they were. The cold, indifferent waves of fate proceeded to toss them unmercifully.

One winter, both the boy and the girl came down with the season’s terrible inluenza, and after drifting for weeks between life and death they lost all memory of their earlier years. When they awoke, their heads were as empty as the young D. H. Lawrence’s piggy bank.

They were two bright, determined young people, however, and through their unremitting efforts they were able to acquire once again the knowledge and feeling that qualified them to return as full-fledged members of society. Heaven be praised, they became truly upstanding citizens who knew how to transfer from one subway line to another, who were fully capable of sending a special-delivery letter at the post office. Indeed, they even experienced love again, sometimes as much as 75% or even 85% love.

Time passed with shocking swiftness, and soon the boy was thirty-two, the girl thirty.

One beautiful April morning, in search of a cup of coffee to start the day, the boy was walking from west to east, while the girl, intending to send a special-delivery letter, was walking from east to west, but along the same narrow street in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo. They passed each other in the very center of the street. The faintest gleam of their lost memories glimmered for the briefest moment in their hearts. Each felt a rumbling in their chest. And they knew:

She is the 100% perfect girl for me.

He is the 100% perfect boy for me.

But the glow of their memories was far too weak, and their thoughts no longer had the clarity of fouteen years earlier. Without a word, they passed each other, disappearing into the crowd. Forever.

A sad story, don’t you think?

Yes, that’s it, that is what I should have said to her.

Lightly child, lightly

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.

Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.

Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.

Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.

I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.

Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me.

When it comes to dying even. Nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic.

No rhetoric, no tremolos,

no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of Christ or Little Nell.

And of course, no theology, no metaphysics.

Just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.

So throw away your baggage and go forward.

There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet,

trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair.

That’s why you must walk so lightly.

Lightly my darling,

on tiptoes and no luggage,

not even a sponge bag,

completely unencumbered.”

― Aldous Huxley, Island

Simplest of Words

Geographer- Verona

You call me all the right words but the right words sound so wrong
You say that I am changing, I guess I will before too long
Will you give me a way out or a past to live down?
Either way it co couldn’t be worse than it is now

I’m watching while a wild doorway circles round and round
Is every single whisper a life that we should know by now or is it just a sound?
Something keeps a river from sinking into the ground
Was I ever any different?
It’s the simplest ones, the simplest ones

White lies in the night
If I could be yours and you could be mine
As long as it rhymes, it’s all that I’ll ever need
I hear white lies in the night
If I could be yours and you could be mine
We keep what we hide and you told such simple lies…

Can’t decipher why I feel such a deep connection to this song. I suppose that’s the beauty of music, it fills the missing gaps when words fail to encompass how we feel. The lyrics, along with the melody, and Micheal Deni’s beautiful voice come together in harmony to produce a sense of heartache and longing.

Have a listen or two…or twenty…

The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.