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Being Zen: When in doubt, flash that Smile. You know you want to.

This is what happened one day many summers ago…

Your afternoon siesta is disturbed by a phone call.

Its a courier guy asking where you would like to receive a package in your name. You ask him to drop it in at the office on the first working day (which is two days away). He insists on dropping it at your current location (your apartment). When you relate the address he sounds clueless about the area. You really want to help the guy (and it wouldn’t hurt to receive the package soon enough), but you admit not being the best with directions to a place you’ve been in for all of two months. You give the best leads you have and then both of you laugh over your mutual lack of knowledge.

You disconnect the call after he assures you he’ll manage a way out. He tells you to be by the side of that telephone. Who knows how lost he can get. Sure enough, he calls again and confirms your location. Now you’ve spoken with this guy long enough to start talking with his accent (which you can’t quite place on a world map).

Few minutes later the door bell rings. You open the door and its the man behind the last few calls on your phone. The fact that he looks like the sweetest thing on two feet really completes the picture of the pleasant stranger. Both of you can’t help blurting out “Finally” and giving your best smile . You almost apologise for having made the man run around (actually doing his job). He says it was interesting because now at least he knows the place and he wanted to complete his deliveries before the weekend. Then you sign off (literally sign for the package delivery) and you wish each other a good day.

That neat little interaction right there was pleasanter than several others with supposed non-strangers, which is why I still remember it after nearly six years.

That the smile of the day should come from such unlikely quarters is what made it all the more special.

Perhaps that smile was just a courier guy doing his job.

Or (and I have reasons to believe this one) it was a genuine man about town who made receiving a courier a pleasanter activity than signing for packages can possibly be.

This could happen to you too. So always be armed. With a SMILE.

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The (L)imitless Light of Life

The light shines into the act of life for only the briefest moment-perhaps only a matter of seconds. Once it is gone and one has failed to grasp its offered revelation, there is no second chance. One may have to live the rest of one’s life in hopeless depths of loneliness and remorse. In that twilight world, one can no longer look forward to anything. All that such a person holds in his hands is the withered corpse of what should have been.

– ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle’ by Haruki Murakami

As much as I love this book, I can’t help but disagree with this passage, even if it is a poignant reminder of fleeting moments and squandered opportunities.

I think the light that shines into our lives is limited only by our notions of what is possible. Yesterday, a gentleman shared the story of a woman who was diagnosed with a tumor of the spine which was going to render her paralysed from the waist down. What may have left most people shattered made this woman react with enough strength to face her reality head-on. Doctors had informed her of the gradual onset of paralysis and she spent the intervening time preparing for her life ahead in practical terms. After a few years her young daughter was also diagnosed as having the same condition.  And they found a way to lead fulfilled lives on their terms.

There are countless stories of people not being limited by their circumstances. And yet, more often than not happiness is equated with requiring a certain set of attributes that fit into earmarked boxes. These include models of success, physical beauty, mental acumen, all defined by the external world.

If only we could save ourselves a whole lot of heartburn and be reminded each day of one simple fact: Happiness is simply a celebration of the limitless light we hold inside.

Easier said than done, but worth fighting with ourselves for, no?