Look up from your ‘busyness’ to see the beauty in each moment

Stand, stare, pause, reflect…slow down and soak in Life. Don’t keep running, with no time to stop and smell the roses, as if Life were a race.
Hari and his friend
Yesterday, on our morning walk we saw a milkman feeding a stray cat. We paused and asked him why he was doing that. He beamed a big smile, said hello, introduced himself as Hari, and explained, “I just found her hanging around this neighborhood everyday as I made my deliveries. One day I offered her some milk. And since then we have become good friends. She comes by whenever I am here. I enjoy seeing her and feeding her. Poor thing, all she needs is some care and milk!”
Hari’s random act of kindness is so inspiring. It made me think. How often do we do something like that – which is to pause and care for someone who does not have anything to offer us in return?
Further down our walking route, my wife Vaani, an ardent lover of nature, birds, flowers and, in fact, of Life itself, pointed to a tall tree and its fall colors. I looked up, Indeed the patterns that the morning light was weaving through the leaves uplifted their colors. Vaani, who schooled at Rishi Valley, where her parents were teachers, said J.Krishnamurti (the philosopher who lived between 1895 and 1986; he founded the Rishi Valley School and The Krishnamurti Foundation) taught her, and her sister, “the value of mindfulness and observation”.
It’s been 28 years since I have known Vaani. Initially, I could never understand why she always got so excited when she saw a tree or a bird or a flower. But over the last decade or so, ever since I was forcibly evicted from the rat race – thankfully, mercifully – I have also learned to pause, observe and reflect. I have learnt to appreciate Life better by slowing down. There’s great beauty in each moment, I realize now, provided you look up from your ‘busyness’!  
Besides, beneath all the chaos and grime that hold a big city in a stranglehold, there are still ordinary folks like Hari who teach us how to be compassionate and there are people like Vaani who remind us that it is possible to find beauty in the most unexpected of places.

The greatest wealth in Life is be able to enjoy the gift of this lifetime. In trying harder to run faster to get to a destination you think is your ultimate one, you are missing out on the scenery and the opportunity that each moment is offering you. I am reminded of W.H.Davies’ (1871 ~ 1940) poem Leisure. What he wrote back then is still so, so, relevant: “A poor Life this if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”
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Learn to give your Life, Time!

All of us wish we had 28 hour days and 3-day weekends. The truth is, surprisingly, this is possible. Provided we are willing to invest ‘time’ in this wish.
Fundamentally, to achieve this, we must learn to drink from Life’s cup, one sip at a time. And not rush through Life. Agreed that despite our earnings having gone up, and technology having simplified much of our lives, we continue to be faced with a deficit of time. We live in a world where traffic’s getting worse, the home-work-home commute is therefore only getting longer and is a drudgery, meetings are both meaningless and never-ending, targets seem even more unreasonable than they used to, the children are demanding more attention despite their having ‘grown older’ and overall, a sense of racing__from event to event, from crisis to crisis, from chore to chore__ prevails over living! And, of course, weekday mornings are still dreadful.
This, however, is the time to pause, to take a deep breath and go through your morning, day and week, mindfully. This may seem like a stupid, impractical suggestion. But consider it. By running faster and faster, by rushing, you are only going to exhaust yourself. Your energy will remain depleted all day and perhaps all week. Which is all the more reason why you need to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness means to focus your attention on whatever you are doing, unmindful of a previous task or an upcoming one. We do just the opposite. While packing the kids away to school, your focus is on your own commute. While on the ride to work, you are already thinking of the 3.30 pm meeting for which you are underprepared. And worry if it will get over in time for you to leave work and get home, because there’s the carpenter coming over at 6.30 pm to fix the wardrobe lock! This prescription, to slow down and yet proceed with focus, isn’t an original one, is definitely not invented by me, nor is it a “cure for our times”. The 12th century Tibetan Buddhist monk, Jetsun Milarepa (1052~1135) had advised thus: “Hasten slowly and ye shall soon arrive.” He championed nimbleness and un-distractedness over rushing, even in those times.
The simple truth about time is that you can have as much time as you want, available to you, provided you are ready to work for and on it. Many of us are armchair wish-makers. We want more time, but we don’t want to make changes to our lifestyles and schedules. We don’t want to analyze our workdays and weeks and decide what’s core and what’s non-core. Without investing time in understanding what’s important and worthy of our time, we can’t expect to find more time in our daily lives!
Get this straight. And know that this aspect about managing your time is non-negotiable. When you do work on time diligently, your Life will become meaningful and an endless experience of ‘leisure’. It was the super-tramp poet William Henry Davies (1871-1940) who wrote in his 1911 poem, ‘Leisure’: “What is this Life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare!” Imagine, if in a packed week, on a crazy  morning, you could just ‘stand and stare’ at people rushing to work! It really is possible. All you have to do is to understand that if you want to have the time of your Life, you must be willing to give your Life, time!