The good, the bad, & the ugly!

I’ve been reminded of late that I’ve been taking the “art of perfection” to an unhealthy extreme. No, it’s not a colleague or a friend who was kind enough to do the prompting, but rather a still small voice in me cautioning my obsession. Doing things really well has been an inculcated discipline of mine ever since I started my working career. I’ve since realized that taking this too far in expecting everyone else to live up to my high expectations can be unhealthy to myself and the people around me. It can cause undue stress of the negative kind and strain a few relationships along the way!

A story is told about a kid whose mum would regularly struggle to cook dinner after a long, hard day at work. One evening, his mum placed a plate of vegetables, omelette and extremely burnt rice in front of his dad, who without a word reached out for it, smiled warmly and started eating. He finished his meal as if there wasn’t anything amiss with his wife’s cooking.

When the boy got up from the table that evening, he heard his mum apologizing to his dad for burning the rice, to which his father replied – “Honey, I love burnt rice!” Later that night, as the boy went to kiss his daddy good night, he enquired whether the statement was indeed true.
His father wrapped the kid in his arms and said, “Your Mum put in a hard day’s work today and she’s is really tired. And besides – burnt rice never hurt anyone!”

You know friends – life is full of imperfect things…and imperfect people. I’m sure you will agree with me that we are not the best at everything. We all forget birthdays and anniversaries like everyone else. We lose track of time, miss deadlines, and turn up late for appointments. The key to coming up tops despite all these misgivings is to learn to accept each other’s faults and choose to celebrate each other’s differences. This is one of the best ways to create healthy, growing and lasting relationships.

In life, it is unrealistic to only want the positives and not accept any of the negatives. Our all-encompassing journey is packaged with a full suite of experiences and associations. To ensure a healthy existence, we must learn to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Questions, questions, questions!

When I was contemplating this column, my first thought was to come up with another thought-provoking motivationally-oriented piece which has been the staple of my regular editorial deliveries. However, I was reminded by a friend that it’s okay to take a “break” sometimes times and write about something else other than what I’ve been consistently dishing out!

In this day and age where knowledge is available so readily, especially with the likes of Google and Yahoo granting us the benefits of instant and contextual search, there isn’t any excuse anymore for us to be less than informed.

So when someone asked me a question last week which stumped me, I told him that I will get him an answer shortly. True to myself, I dived straight into my favourite search engine and whipped up the answer in a jiffy. But not before stumbling upon a whole slew of other intriguing questions that I had no immediate answers for.

So I’ve decided to take a break this week and throw some questions your way to get you contemplating as well. Check these out! “Why is it that people say the ‘slept like a baby’ when babies wake up like every two hours?” “Why are you IN a movie, but you’re ON television?” “Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride, he sticks his head out of the window?” “Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are getting dead?” “Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down and give the vacuum one more chance?”

The English language sure has its fair share of idiosyncrasies and perhaps this is what makes it interesting, especially if you can look past its more serious front and take in the lighter side of things. For example, “What disease did cured ham actually have?” Or “How important does a person have to be before they are considered assassinated instead of just murdered?” Or “Why is ‘bra’ singular and ‘panties’ plural?”
Tongue-in-cheek wise, why not have a bit of fun today and ask your office colleagues a few questions to get them thinking – for example, “Why does a round pizza come in a square box”, or “If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?”, or “If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?”

Or if you are feeling a little facetious, then try asking this – “If electricity comes from electrons, does morality come from morons?”

My favourite question that is so obviously true to life and I am sure you can well relate to is “When we are in a supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart, then apologizes for doing so, why do we say ‘It’s alright’ when really it isn’t. Why don’t we say, ‘That really hurt, why don’t you watch where you’re going?”

I don’t have any answers for you this week I’m afraid. But I hope I’ve played a small part to awaken you from the complacency of the English language and get your noodles crunching. A parting shot – “Now why do they call it an asteroid when it’s outside the hemisphere, but call it a hemmorhoid when it’s in your butt?”

If I were you, I won’t arse, I mean ask!

The People Who Matter Most

Have you ever wondered as you go through life and get to know thousands of people across your “live, work, and play” environments, how many of these characters really matter to you eventually? And in the hectic world we live in these days, it is even more difficult to keep up with the who’s who? With the exponential growth of digital and the intrusive dominance of social media, the question I would really like to ask Lady Gaga is “How many of your 39 million Facebook fans are really your friends, and how many of these friends really mean something to you?”

One of my office colleagues recently sent me an email about the philosophy of Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schulz, an American cartoonist whose highly popular comic strip “Peanuts” proved to be one of the most influential in the history of the medium and is still widely reprinted on a daily basis.

In the course of illustrating his take on life, he was said to have posed these questions: 1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world; 2. Name the last five winners of Miss America; 3. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize; 4. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress; 5. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

I would presume that even if you are a true blue American, you’d probably be stumped for the answers. Charles Schulz goes on to make the point that “none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.”

He followed this through by proposing another quiz comprising five questions: 1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school; 2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time; 3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile; 4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special; 5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

I’m sure you must found these a lot easier to answer as compared to the earlier ones! The point that Charles wanted to make was that the people who make a difference in your life are not necessarily the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

The predominant content in many of my blog pieces has been about the reality checks I place upon my life through stories which my friends, colleagues, associates, even readers of My Paper, have shared with me over time. My role has been to amplify these so that the larger community out there can benefit from such anecdotes.

Charlie Brown from the “Peanuts” cartoon strip was quoted to say, “In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.” For this and many more pertinent quips, together with the soft spot and fondness I’ve always had for Snoopy, Woodstock, Linus and Lucy, thank you Charles for being a part of my life!