Thank you Books 4 Outback!

These 3 men (self-funded organisation, Books 4 Outback) are delivering books to outback communities.

“Mr Lane – a former volunteer for Lifeline – established Books 4 Outback with fellow volunteer, Bill Iceton, who he said was instrumental in transporting the books to the outback.

The two men also teamed with Acrobat Removals owner, Norm Doughty, who gave them a place to store their books.”

Some people just know how to help others. So much respect for these men.

Original article: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4386850/giving-new-life-to-old-books-in-the-outback/

Reblog: Green Sea Turtle Refuge~

There is a folk story about a sea turtle in Japan.
A fisherman, Taro, one day saved a Sea Turtle from a group of naughty children and released it back to the sea.
Some time after, a turtle appeared before Taro, thanked him for saving its life, and wished to invite him to visit an underwater paradise. Turtle took Taro on its back, and it turns into a beautiful woman as they arrived at the paradise. Taro spent some time at the paradise, which was all about pleasure and luxury, however he eventually asked the woman if she would take him back to the shore; that he needed to go home. She gave Taro a box of gift, and made Taro promise never to open the box.

Upon return, Taro realises that he had been gone for hundreds of years and he no longer knew a person in his old fishing village. He desperately looked for any familiarity, and finally, could not resist opening the box . When he opened to look inside the box, all it came out was smoke. And the smoke turned Taro into a very old man.

It feels as though the story is filled with messages. What is it about the paradise, the home, the gift, the good deed, you, the reward, and life?

I remember having to answer a question – what should Taro have done? I do not know if there is one correct answer to this question.  But it certainly gives a lot to think about.

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San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge has a residential group of approximately 60 protected Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles. No one knows how they got here, but it is assumed they were caught many decades ago in Mexico, brought to the bay alive, and escaped from fishing pens, prior to being slaughtered. They settled successfully in the bay due to waters that are artificially warmed by nearby industry.

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This is the only area on the west coast of the US where green sea turtles are known to congregate and thrive.
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These turtles are an endangered species due to habitat destruction, illegal poaching, inadvertent fish netting, boat strikes, and plastic ingestion.
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San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the few safe sanctuaries for these peaceful and VERY large turtles. The largest turtle ever measured here weighed 530 lbs, which is the largest known green turtle in the Eastern Pacific.
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There…

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Eating mindfully

 

 

When I was very little, I did not know where noodles came from. I always found them in a bowl, cooked, I liked them, and that was all I was aware of.

When I was in primary school, we visited a family owned noodle factory. They were noodle makers who inherited noodle making business generation after generation. They educated us how they traditionally made noodles, and how they recently implemented machineries to make their tasks easier. They said that it was less strenuous to their body, and more productive; which meant that they were able to afford their life easier.

That day, I was inspired by the idea of factory-made-noodles. What if we occupied a huge warehouse with noodle making machines? Line the whole building with production line, and let the machines do the job; people won’t have to work hard, but they can make a lot of money. I thought if a wealthy person decided to invest in this project, life could be made a whole lot ‘easier’ for the artisans. I presented this idea to my teacher, who paused a question, “Do you think the ‘wealthy man’ will then share the profit?”

What I did not know was how ‘my innovative idea’ was already out there and flourishing. I also could not comprehend how the ‘wealthy man’ never seemed to share the profit equally. I begun noticing packaged noodles in the supermarket. I used them for convenience. Artisans were going out of work. And the art of noodle making was struggling to find its inheritance. Noodle became just another food, which you buy without much notice; cheaper the better.

When I came across a video on Facebook, I thought of conscious living. When we eat food from people who made those with their hands, food taste different. We know that it took time and effort. We know that they had to negotiate the weather to ensure the whole process would complete as planned. We know that there is a secret recipe behind it, and it involved the magic touch by the experienced. I remember making noodles as a part of a school project, and I recall how impossible it was to make them look like noodles. The noodle maker would then sell his noodle in exchange for money, and then he would buy his daily needs.

I now know why my grandmother used to thank the food she was eating, and how my grandfather used to appreciate the quality of its making. First, there was food on the plate so we could eat. But mostly, the food was there because somebody made it using their hands. Good things go around. And I somehow think that world would be a kinder place if we all had so much to be thankful for.

Can you commit a crime and walk away un-noticed?

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“Can you kill a person and walk away without ever being held accountable?”

My grandfather asked me out of the blue. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and killing was not on my card by any chance – I was somebody who had to be taught it was ok cut cut a piece of paper with the scissors, that it would not have ‘hurt the paper’ if I cut it.  I remember my grandmother almost burst with disapproval, however quietly, but only held herself together with the strong faith in her husband and the intension behind his words.

We were sitting over a pot of green tea. Hot water was poured into the pot, and we were waiting for it to steep. “What do you think?” he asked me. And he went on laying the tea cups on the table before us.

I had to think.

If I killed a person: starting right there, it required a great amount of imagination. If I did, the police man would come and catch me. But what if nobody saw it? Is it possible to commit such an act without ever being seen? What about preparation? What would I need to do to hide everything after the act? Could it be possible to do all of those steps without ever being seen? – remember,  Japan is a collectivist nation with an extremely high context culture. If you planned something deviant, you would not likely pull it off without somebody sensing the change in your mood, life style and routine, and the mannerism that would have come with it. But all that granted, if you did managed to commit the act, never mind how, you would have to clean up the trace behind the act. One might flee overseas, because I was already aware that Japan was not the only country in the world, but police man would have chased you as long as you left a trace behind. So is it possible to commit a crime without leaving a trace?

“I don’t think you can do that. Somebody would have seen it, and if you killed that person too, it means more people would have seen you commit the second act.” I answered.

My grandmother was now gasping for breath beside me, but she still managed to hold her words in. And my grandfather asked me. “And if nobody saw you doing any of that, who saw it?”

Was that a trick question? I knew the green tea was almost ready to serve.

And I realised that there was one person who would have seen the whole event, even nobody saw me commit a crime. “Me.” I said.

“Well done,” said my grandfather. “Well, that was a lesson,” my grandmother said, who finally regained her breath. And with that, grandfather poured the tea, and we never spoke about that again.

Murder was a large theme, but any crime would be the same in essence. Whatever the decision you make, you will live with it for the rest of your life. I learned something important that day, drinking a cup of green tea with my grandparents. Had he used a petty crime as a subject, would I have understood the lesson as well~ that I would never know. But I am glad that he taught me this lesson early in my life. Life lived hiding away from the world would be too hard for me to bear.

Utopia

We use to read stories aloud at school. We would stand up one at a time and read a story to the class; it was one of my favourite things to do.

One day, I was given a story of Utopia. I liked that story, because it had a horse in it. Even better, there was a girl riding the horse.

So, the story started in a small village.

This girl worked for a wealthy man’s manner. And she worked in the stables/ yard and took care of horses. And one day, this horse arrived at the stables. It was a beautiful and prized white horse that everybody envied.

Soon, there was a problem; that nobody seemed to be able to control the horse. It was a nice horse with great talent, but every now and then, it would go out of control and tried to desperately run away from the yard.

The girl was the only one who could handle the situation. She could somehow negotiate, and eventually settle the horse into calmness. So this became her role, to take care of this very special horse.

All went well until come Autumn. The horse went crazy and it decided to jump the fence and run away. This time, the girl did not stop the horse, or tried to slow it down. She wanted to see where the horse would go if she had just let it go. So she stayed on the horse’s back and went along, just as far as the horse wanted to go.

The horse kept running.

The horse was getting tired but it still kept running.

The girl, instead of trying to slow the tired horse, encouraged and helped the horse to keep going.

And the horse kept running.

And then, the girl saw a water fall. It was a great, wide water fall with abundance of water flowing down towards them, and the horse kept running towards the water fall. By then, the girl became almost a part of the horse and did not fear what the horse was going to do.

So the horse jumped into the water through the water fall; and they arrived on a land the girl had never imagined. – so they arrived in the Utopia.

I used to think as a child that the Utopia was the heaven after death. I assumed that they had died for a reason and that they were safely found in heaven. But I now know that they did not die. Utopia is somewhere we can all find, alive, and the girl arrived there on the back of the horse.

And as always, the horse knew the way home.

Blessings of life

It was home time at school.

As child, we used to gather local children and walked to primary school in groups in the morning. On the way home, we travelled in smaller groups; basically whomever available to tag together, making sure that no body was left behind. We learned to look out for one another like that from such young age, just as a part of everyday life.

I was about to leave the school building with two other children that afternoon, both boys from the same grade. We got on well and we often walked together and played together.

So we were changing into outside shoes from what we wore inside through the day while at school. We each had a shoe locker, and I bent over to tend to my shoes when….I saw the boys run past behind me fast and one of them swooped my hat away from my head….the beginning of another scramble.

I was never a champion but I could run fast if I was chasing somebody. So off I went, screaming and shouting all I wanted like any other time. But then I had two boys who knew me well running ahead of me and split left and right, and I seriously did not know which one to chase.

Just on the corner of my eyes,  I could see somebody come out of the teachers room. Sh#t, I thought. I bet they saw me doing something completely un-ladylike. I turned my head to see who the moving figure was and swallowed.

It was the headmaster.

I straightened my back immediately, but it was too late. I saw the man reach for something with one hand and wave me over with another. I decided it was a smart idea to surrender, so I approached, trying to look as innocent as possible.

The headmaster looked at me. And before I could open my mouth to say anything, he waved me over again to approach closer. The headmaster could not possible hit me, I thought. But will he?

Of course he did not hit me. But he did something that would remain for the rest of my life.

He was on one knee, tying his shoelaces, and from this eye hight looked straight into my eyes. And he said, “You are going to be something quite remarkable. I know it.” I was dumb struck. He was supposed to tell me off. I was sure of it. And before I could open my mouth, or remotely recover from the shock, he told me to go home.

I remember saying “good bye schoolmaster” like a well mannered child. And I walked towards my friends who handed my hat back immediately. They thought I was in trouble too.  They thought they behaved like cowards, for not coming after me to receive the punishment together. They asked me. “What did he tell you?”

I looked at my friends and said. “The headmaster told me that I am lucky to have good friends.”

“Is that all?,” my friends asked.  I said yes, and we walked home just like any other day.

Many years later.

I went through my life’s ups and downs like everybody else who lived. And I remember. Even though I don’t always refer to the headmaster, I am affirmed that I would get through whatever the difficulties comes along. Because I know that one day, I am going to be something quite remarkable. I just haven’t got there yet.

It reminds me how, such small moment of blessings could change a child’s outlook for the rest of her life. What a blessing it was.

They are there for us, protecting us.

When I was 6 or 7 years old, our school teacher took us out of the classroom onto the playground, which was a huge open space to the 6-year-old self.

She walked around the edge of the playground with us and showed us those trees, some of which had been there for decades already.

Standing in front of an especially tall ginkgo tree, she asked us to guess how tall the tree was.

“If the tree was to lie down on the ground, how much space do you think it might take?”

And so we all spread far on the playground and stood some length away from the tree, indicating that was how tall each of us thought the tree was. Some of us guessed it better than another, and I admit, we all thought we were all so very clever.

And the teacher said something. “How far do you think the root would go?”

We knew what root was, because we had a small plant growing in a glass jar in the classroom. But we could not see the root of the ginkgo tree because it was in the ground. The teacher said to us, for a tree to stand up strong, there has to be its root 3 times as long as the height of the tree; it means that the root of the tree would be as long as 3 of the trees put together; and that the roots grow in all directions, just like branches do.

Some of us were able to logically follow her words. We imagined how long the root of the tree was and how much of the playground it might cover, undercover and unseen. And we realised that the tree next to the ginkgo tree also had its root extending so far, and the tree next to it. It was a mesmerising experience.

And then the teacher said, those roots are holding together like we hold hands. When there is an earthquake, roots are holding the ground for us. When it is really windy, the roots are holding on so the trees can stay standing. We cannot see them, but they are there for us, protecting us.

It is interesting that I grew to be a person who prefers to live a gentle life, not drawn to those who would cut trees down because there is no immediate monetary value in what is visible on the surface. It is also interesting that I grew never to hesitate for a second to believe that there is always somebody who is watching over us and ready to protect us.