Erenlai - 按日期過濾項目: 週四, 18 十月 2007
週五, 19 十月 2007 01:16

The twisting and not so narrow road

Life is sometimes depicted as a road, which implies that we are all travelers. If it is a real road then it should have a direction and if we are really travelers then we should all have destinations.

The truth is, however, that many people don’t really know where they want to go and/or have no idea where the road they are now on is actually heading. Some, on the other hand, know where they should be going, but put off going that way or they are distracted by the attractions of side trips that lead them astray. Then there are those who seem to change direction every time something new appeals to them.

If contentment with one’s life depends upon the knowledge that one’s life has a valued purpose and that in one way or another one is on the way to its realization, then many of life’s travelers today are wandering about disoriented, discontented and quite unhappy.

It has been said that the road to hell or to destruction is paved with good intentions, such as “I mean to do the right thing, but later.” “I intend to pay my debt, but next year.” “Let me sow my wild oats first and then I’ll tow the line.” If we are lucky that later time comes, but often enough it is too late.

Actually it is just as true to say that the road to heaven or to success is also paved with good intentions, but in this case not postponed.

In the Christian Bible, Jesus is quoted by Matthew (7:13) as saying “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it.”

Keeping to “the straight and narrow” is often depicted as the proper way of doing good and avoiding evil. So long as you don’t deviate from the right path you’ll end up in heaven. But beware, the road is not wide. Be very careful how you step. There are many temptations and it is easy to be misled.

That is true, but in reality, the roads of life are seldom straight, but full of twists and turns and obstacles and detours. Neither are the roads of life so narrow that there is no leeway for personal freedom and individuality. And there is not one single road traveled by everyone. There are as many roads as there are individuals. Everyone has his or her particular abilities and aspirations to develop and a personal mission to accomplish, if possible.

Perhaps we could even say that heaven (as well as hell for that matter) has as many gates as there are people traveling different roads. But in any case all these entrances, as Jesus said, are narrow. It is as difficult to get into hell if you were trying to be good as it is difficult to get into heaven if you chose to be bad.

The question is not which road you are traveling, but whether you are going in the right direction. If you don’t know what to do with your life or how to reach your cherished goal, now is the time get a map and consult a trustworthy travel guide for advice and planning or rely on an enlightened guru. Travelers with strong religious faiths and convictions and those with strong philosophies of life have a great advantage because they know what the destination is at the end of their roads and carry with them directions how to get there.

The lyrics of the famous Scottish Ballad “Loch Lomond” have a refrain that says

“O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak’ the low road,
and I’ll be in Scotland afore ye.”

The high road and the low road go their own ways and take their own time, but they both end up in Scotland. That is all that matters.

So, whether you are on a new road charting your own course or following in the footsteps of others, it is your road and you are the one responsible for it.

(Photo: Roy Berman)

週四, 18 十月 2007 23:34

On Living With Problems You Cannot Escape

One of the best things that ever happened to me was getting polio. Not because polio was a pleasant experience, but because due to polio my life took a new direction which has brought me many blessings I might otherwise have never had.

We all have disabilities we have to live with. Since they won’t go away, then we just have to do the best we can to live with them in such a way they don’t prevent us from having a good time.

One of the worst things that prevents us from having a good time is wishing things were better or easier than they are now or feeling sorry we aren’t doing something else. Some people go through life so regretful of what they can no longer do, they have no energy left to enjoy the things they still can do.

Everyone wants to spend happy meaningful lives. The trouble is we try to imitate the lives of others we envy rather than develop our own. We pine for the grass on the other side of the fence instead of watering the grass under our own feet. We feel so sorry we don’t have the whole pie, we fail to enjoy the piece we have. We sit patiently waiting in vain for our ship to come in, instead of going out to find it.

Not all of us have the good fortune of being born with silver spoons in our mouths, a symbol of health and prosperity and success. But there is not a one of us whose iron spoon cannot be silver-plated.

Have you ever seen a diamond in the rough? Once many years ago, a man went into the desert to collect rocks he could sell to tourists. One day he found a big dirty rock. It was ugly, but looked so unusual he picked it up anyway. He was very pleased when a man who came into his shop purchased it right away for ten dollars. That ugly stone turned out to be a big raw diamond, which when cleaned and polished was worth about half a million dollars.

Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Only a broken down person with disabilities and limitations? If that is all you see, then you are blind or misled by appearances. If you see someone sad, it is because you look sad and that makes you sadder. You better look away. If you see someone relatively happy and content, it is because you look that way and that makes you feel even better. We need to train ourselves to see the diamonds that are in us.

When you look at yourself in a mirror, don’t see only your flaws or your limitations or disabilities. You are a person who has flaws, but you are not the flaws. Think of yourself as a diamond in disguise.

A diamond covered with dirt does not shine. A diamond in the dark does not sparkle. An uncut diamond is a worthless rock to the untrained eye, but it is still a diamond. The measure of the value of a package is its contents not the wrappings. Train yourself to see the diamond in you. If others don’t see it, it’s their misfortune.

Always listen to what others have to say and take advantage of their advice when it helps, but don’t let yourself get upset when they say something that doesn’t ring true. It is their mistake not yours.

Don’t look so hard at what you admire in others that you fail to see what there is to admire in your self.

I have some friends who don’t like themselves. They wish they were someone else. They wish they were somewhere else. They wish they were stronger or had more brains or more money or more success. They are so anxious about what they wish they had, they have no energy left to do anything worthwhile with what they still have.

One of the happiest persons I know is mentally retarded. There is very little that he can do, but he knows how to enjoy each moment without envy or regret. Since he grew up in a family that loves and respects him, he respects himself. He is at peace with himself.

The unhappiest person I know is also mentally retarded. She despises herself because she grew up in a family that was ashamed of her and rejected her for being defective. To be unhappy with her self is all she ever learned. She is not at peace with herself.

So, what kind of a person are you?

Some people are always thinking of what might go wrong. “I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’m afraid. I’m hurting and it might get worse. I’m declining and don’t know when it is going to stop. I have to depend on others to do for me things others can do for themselves. Oh woe is me!!”

Some people concentrate on what is still right. “Look, I’m still here. I hurt, but it could be worse. There are still things I can do. I have someone to help me do what I can’t do by myself. How lucky I am!!”

Sometimes our lives get blown off course. We discover a bridge blown down or a barrier across the road, or we run up against a stone wall. We can either knock it down, crash into it, tunnel through it, detour around it, stop and wait for it to disappear, or turn around and go somewhere else.

When a sailor is knocked off course, he either has to adjust the rudder to get back on course or set another course.

I only have one life. The experiences I will have today are the only ones I will have. So I must do my best to make these experiences worth while and to enjoy as best I can whatever happens. It may not be the experience I wanted, but it’s my experience. I either find some way to live with it, get some good out of it or my life is hell.

There is peace in knowing my hand is still on the rudder. I may be passively being tossed about, but I still have a hand in determining how I react. I refuse to surrender to the winds or the waves of life like a dead piece of driftwood or drifting cloud.

Once when I was small I looked up at the sky and noticed the first whiffs of a new cloud appearing on the horizon. “Look, Mommy,” I said, “there’s a cloud being born.” How exciting it was to watch it change size and shape right there before my very eyes.

I thought it was a miracle, but in reality, of course, it was just a giant glob of vapor adrift at the mercy of wind currents, air pressure, and temperature. It may have looked peaceful, but it didn’t feel any peace, because it didn’t know or feel anything.

Sometimes we feel tempted to just sit back and surrender like clouds when our lives are blown about by events that throw us off course. But that would be a mistake because we aren’t clouds. We are much more like ships at sea tossed about by winds, waves, and currents, because like ships, we have rudders and motor power. We can react to the winds and the waves. We can resist the pressures or adjust to them. We can accept or reject the opportunities and changes we encounter in life.

Unfortunately, being the captains of our ships doesn’t make us captains of the waves. Standing at the helm doesn’t prevent storms, but every time we turn the wheel, shift sails, or change speed, we alter our ship’s course. These tiny changes may be insignificant by themselves, but they will always manage by the storm’s end to have positioned and oriented our ships differently from where they would have been had we done nothing.

We are not just passive playthings in the hands of fate. When we finally enter harbor at the end of a storm, we have had a hand in reaching it. For better or for worse, our decisions and efforts determine the course of our lives more than the fortuitous or calamitous events.

Eventually some time in the future I will go down with my ship when the winds and waves of life finally overwhelm it. But I will go down peacefully and proudly knowing that I kept my hand on the helm as long as I could. The best way to die is to keep on living as well as you can.


週四, 18 十月 2007 23:19

Overcoming Handicaps

Which one of us has no handicap? Which one of us can say that he or she enjoys the full potential that nature has allotted to us? We all have to recognize limitations in what we can accomplish, and recognizing our limitations is part of the process of growing and maturing as a person.
At the same time, it is true that some of us are more severely impaired and that the rest of us recognize that these people are “handicapped”, that they cannot live a normal existence such as organized by social rules and conditions. Social progress is recognized by the way laws, regulations and norms take special care of handicapped, show respect for their special burden, provide them with special assistance and care. Of course, laws are not enough: sometimes, social conditions are very much advanced but overall coldness and indifference make handicapped people’s life hard. In other contexts, the law system may not be so developed, but family, friends and neighbors surround handicapped people with affection and comfort. Social protection and personal care must progress together!
This issue has for main feature the testimony of Bob Ronald. He is a special person in Taiwan, as he is established here since fifty years and has been instrumental in founding one of the prominent association dedicated to handicapped people, “Deshandicap.” Here he tells us his life story in simple and moving words, and reflects upon it with much wisdom and sense of humor. His testimony is furthered by the other interviews and features that we reproduce here.
The central point of our issue is very clear: by sharing stories about how they deal with their problems, handicapped people have much to tell us about ourselves: they tell us what are our difficulties and successes in dealing with other peoples; they help us to recognize our own handicaps and to accept them; they tell us how we can live life to the fullest within the limitations that are ours. They tell each of us and the society in general how to grow in humaneness.
For helping us in such a way, they deserve our admiration and gratitude. Or, to put it in a better way: when each one of us is honest about his or hew own handicaps as well as on his or her reasons for loving life , we have to mutually express one to another our admiration and our gratitude…

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