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.

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.

Forgiveness once again.

Forgivenes it is.

Corresponding post here.

May be I just don’t agree with the general idea of ‘forgiveness’ that is out there. Or may be I am such a know it all, and I just think that I can describe it better….whatever message I am trying to convey.

Some say that forgiveness is about letting go.

Some say it is about laying down the burden to have more light in life.

Some explain that it is not about saying it is ok that things happened, but forgiveness is about making a decision to no longer be drugged down by your unpleasant experience.

“Forgiveness gives you wings” is a line from Dr Robert Holden. He teaches that it is about setting yourself free.

There are phrases like ‘forgive and forget.’

And people say that you must first forgive yourself, and then you can forgive another.

And then I hear myself say, there is more to it.

If forgiveness was all about leaving the unpleasant behind and begin looking for more beauty in life, you will never learn anything. There are people who do wrong things, and you will always find one or two of those wherever you go in life. No matter how far you travel, you will always find the unpleasant catch up. And if you keep smiling and moving away from it, you will probably have a very restless life.

If forgiveness was about understanding the wrong and unconditionally accepting them as a part of life, what is wrong will find its own place and keep feeding off your supply. You just taught the wrong-doer that it is ok to behave like that.

If you forgive and forget, then you will most probably walk into the same problem again in the future. You can’t just forget about it.

If you understand the situation in which something had gone wrong, it makes just one of you. The source of the problem is so often oblivious to your injury and guess what, the problem will repeat.

In the process of forgiveness, you need to be heard that ‘it hurt’. You need to say ‘never again’. You need to know what it was that had hurt you. You need to know if it was a genuine mistake or the one that was only waiting to happen. You need to draw a line. If you have not yet learned to draw a line, then you can start learning right there. And every now and then, you realise that it is a group of wrongs not an individual standing in your way. If that ever happens, you just shoot out a few curse words and get ready to draw a more visible line; thicker, brighter and possibly with a hint of purple in it.

Forgiveness does not turn your back to your enemy. It is the power that glows out of your gut, so strong that you can square at your enemy and make him shrink to bits. You don’t need to raise your arm. You just need to go get yourself together.

Forgiveness is something that teaches you strength. It is not about some fancy weapons you carry, but the real strength as a person and what is in your core. You often see such strength through another’s eyes, or it sometimes look like they are walking around wearing a layer of bright light. People will talk whatever they will, but they can no longer mess with you in your face. And when you realise that your bully has turned into a mere coward, you are no longer the injured. Sometimes it is on the other side of an emotion. Some of us need to get angry enough to say the magic word, ‘enough’. Some of us need to feel the sadness to find a ground. However it may come, on the other side of the storm, there it is; the stillness where you are not fearful nor afraid.

What is missing in a scene of injury is so often that each person has forgotten that the other is also a living creature. The oppressor does not remember that the other person has his own life, belief, dream, and an ability to get hurt. The injured did not remember that his opponent is also an imperfect human and so he too has a moment, sometime a very loooooong moment, of wrong; which could very well go for the rest of his life.

We are so often living our life in some kind of automatic mode or another. We have our eyes open and we can see, but we are not really looking. We can hear but we are not listening. We sense that something is out of order but we have learned to not take care of such small things; because we are busy and committed to ‘succeed’.

But here is a slightly brighter side to it. When we are living in the moment, we recognise others that are not.

I don’t think many of us can harm another while being in the moment. It just doesn’t happen. You can almost literally see a life in another when you are well dignified within. And that life is the same as what is in you. Human or not, all living creatures have a life each, and that is just how it is.

If we managed to figured out how to get the oppressors to experience what is really in front of them, I optimistically suspect that we will eliminate crimes. Theory is always the easiest part. And I don’t have a slightest clue as in how this is supposed to happen. But the thing is, we each can chose to spend more of our time with mindfulness. A peaceful heart does affect another at the level of electromagnetic field. And if we could each influence just one person a day with our peace, somethings may change, just may be.