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November 15th, 2010

The Path We Have Taken

Originally published on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008.

From the book, The Gifts of Life and Love by Ben Zion Bokser.

The Path We Have Taken

An innate conservatism often holds us back from embarking on new adventures. Sometimes this is a brake on progress. Yet in its own way it makes a contribution to our happiness.

The world is rich in endless possibilities. Each is a path that might be pursued, that would offer many fulfillment to one who will embark on it. But if we followed the call of every possibility, we would be forever on the go. We would dissipate our strength by trying the impossible, to go in many directions at the same time, or to continue shifting from direction to direction.

Life demands that we concentrate on a given path, that we pursue it till we reach its final end. We cannot know what a given path has to offer unless we pursue it for some time, resisting the call to embark on new adventures as a diversion from the task before us.

There are times when the path we have chosen has disclosed its defects, and it becomes necessary to leave it in favor of a new path. Then it is time to abandon the promptings of a conservative disposition with its call to caution. But it is good that human nature tends to surround what we have with an aura of love, and to defend it against the disrupting pressures of a changing world.

Life is full of possibilities. Often, we face the dilemma to choose which direction to take and to be happy and content with the choices we have made. If we could only split ourselves, live different realities at the same time and could somehow go back where we have started, it would be easier and life would be a life without regret. But to live life, we are only given a one-way ticket, one chance. There is no going back and time is forever lost.

In the road of life, a light illuminates but only a part of the way. With religion, tradition, custom of society or laws of the land, or with whatever that tells us what is right and what direction to follow, the course will still be walked with uncertain steps. For all this is only a partial light and it does not clearly indicate what path that must be taken. It is for this reason that every choices made based on certain facts and circumstances are fallible and short-sighted. Thus, our mind must be open to new knowledge and wisdom which time will hopefully bring. In light of the new knowledge and wisdom, we must continually, carefully review and reassess the choices we have made.

However, our innate conservatism prevents us from taking new direction even when the path we have taken is in its dead-end or deviates from our life’s goals, happiness or betterment of living. This conservative disposition calls upon caution as its main reason. It also asserts fondness towards familiarity and resistance to the pressure of change. But sometimes, it is a mask of fear – fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of another possibility of dead-end and failure.

But whatever is behind our conservative disposition, do not lose sight of the goal. With faculties intact, knowledge, wisdom and a dose of courage, it is important to move forward following the direction of our life’s goals and to be not held at a stand still, for in the road of life, we move backwards by standing still in this fast moving world.

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January 8th, 2008

Old Blanket

From the book, The Gifts of Life and Love by Ben Zion Bokser.

Old Blanket

A child will clutch an old blanket or an old and battered toy, and will not let it go. He takes it with him to bed, as though it were his most priceless possession. Parents are occasionally baffled, but the child is only affirming a principle that dominates all life. He is attached to the familiar.

Amidst the shifting things which make up the world of common experience, it is comforting to hold on to something which does not change. It gives us a feeling of stability and permanence. The blanket is precious precisely because it is old and worn, because around it cluster many sweet memories of being tucked into it by the tender and loving hands of mother, night after night. The blanket is an anchor that holds the tiny ship to the shore, while yet permitting it to venture a little way in slow motions of discovery and exploration.

We all clutch old blanket of one kind to another. We feel a special attachment to objects, and places, and people, because they carry happy memories for us. We hold on to ideas and persist in habits because they carry the compulsion of the familiar.

This compulsion of the familiar maybe injurious. It makes it difficult for us to grow up, to change, to respond to the call of new ideas. Yet we could not meet life’s demands without it. For this is the source of our loyalty to all that we have and to all that we are. It gives us a feeling of security and permanence, amidst the anarchy of change which we see all about us.

The attachments to the familiar is a device that God has put into our nature, to make sure that we shall live in the three dimensions of time. We are moving from the present into the future, and we are meant to take our past with us.

What is your old blanket?

I have not one but too many old blankets – stuffs that I clutch on because they have been with me for a long time and I couldn’t get myself to throw them away. They hold very special sentiments. They are reminders of who I was, where I have been and friendships that came with it. They hold both good and bad memories, that sometimes they uplift my soul and sometimes they drag me down to sadness.

With these stuffs, uncluttering is especially hard. But in time, I have learned to be selective in what to keep and to let go of some of them. Sometimes in order to move on it is important to recognize that some stuffs are just stuffs.  There are those in our past that has forever left an imprint in our lives and we just have ourselves, the person we have become, as the ultimate reminder.

November 4th, 2007

The Way to Happiness

This is from the book “The Gifts of Life and Love” by Ben Zion Bokser.

‘Live a day at a time.’ We have often heard this bit of wisdom, but it represents a partial truth. Life has continuity and we cannot live from day to day, without planning ahead. The future is being formed in the womb of the present, and unless we weigh today’s actions in terms of tomorrow’s consequences we shall exposed our lives to anarchy and improvisation. No significant result will ever reward our work, because any important enterprise requires time and planning for its proper conception and execution.

It is however true that for the enjoyment of life, long stretches of time must be broken up into smaller units. From every day’s labor, we must extract some measure of joy. We cannot defer our happiness to some spectacular fulfillment lying far away in time.

Life is a journey towards a constantly receding goal. We may succeed in grasping that for which we have reached, but we soon discover that something else beckons to us from the far horizon. We never reach a point where we may say: ‘Now the race is run. I have found the heart’s desire.’ They who wait for these spectacular moments of realization are doomed to unending frustration. And as the span of life is limited, we dare not put off a far-away hour the rewards which we have a right to seek for our labors.

We must find life’s fulfillment day by day. Every day has its own destination. Every day has its own struggles and attainments. Every day has its opportunities to taste from the sweet wine of life – by creative endeavor in work and play, by giving and receiving love, by serving God and man, by seeking after goodness and truth. Taste the wine when the cup is near. Who knows what tomorrow may bring.

Today’s sunset will never again appear on the horizon. Today’s opportunities for happiness will be gone when the day is done, and they will be gone beyond recall. Plan for tomorrow but do not forget to reap the harvest of the day.

June 13th, 2007

I Have Heard the Song

One of my favorite books is ‘The Gifts of Life and Love’ by Ben Zion Bokser. My copy is one which is copyright 1975, so worn out and the pages turned reddish brown. I got it after a general cleaning in my parent’s house. It was piled along with stuffs that nobody cared about. I just loved it that I took it with me in college, Japan and where I am now (still in Japan). It just a treasury of inspiration!

One of the contents is more true to me now than ever, especially after giving birth to my son Matthew.

I Have Heard the Song

By Ben Zion Bokser

I have not seen the robin but I know he is there
because I heard him singing through my window from the treetop outside
I have not seen God. But I have looked at my child’s eyes
and have been overwhelmed by the miracle of unfolding life.

I have watched the trees bedeck themselves
with new garb of green in the spring,
and have been stirred by the miracle of continual rebirth.

I have looked at the stars, and have been overcome
by the miracle of the grandeur and majesty of the universe.

I know that God exist, because I have heard the song
of His presence from all the tree-tops of creation.

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