Sunday, November 28, 2010

"What we Teach our Children", by Pablo Picasso

Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment
that will never be again.
And what do we teach our children?
We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital
of France.
When will we also teach them what they are?
We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are?
You are a marvel.
You are unique.
In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child
like you.
Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move.
You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven.
You have the capacity for anything.
Yes, you are a marvel.
And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a
You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its

~Pablo Picasso

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tsunami Alarm:

On Monday October 25th October we were sitting in a practically deserted beachside hotel in Polyhena. Polyhena is the resort attached to the Sri Lankan city of Matara, one of the country’s larger towns with a population hovering just under 80,000.
We searched out the hotel because our guest house did not boast an internet connection which is difficult in many parts of the island. Unfortunately they were not able to get the Wi-Fi to work so once again communications with the rest of the world lapsed. I asked the staff to switch on the TV and as we were there it looked a good place to eat. We were about 15 minutes into the BBC news from London which meant the time was approximately 7.45pm. Sri Lanka is an awkward 4 hours and thirty minutes ahead of GMT.
“We interrupt this broadcast with a newsflash. An earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale has hit the western shore of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. A tsunami warning is in force!”
Ranil was local facilitator and driver to the project that brought me to Sri Lanka. His jaw dropped and he sat in stunned silence. He knew all about tsunamis and this news dashed him back to December 26th 2004. He had returned early from Colombo to his family home nestling close to both shore and the river in nearby Matara. It was a full moon day and his wife wanted to attend the temple. He had dropped her off and returned home and was thinking of getting a bite to eat when he heard the sound of lapping water. The river had risen and was now washing against the rocks beside the house. He tried to move his vehicle out onto the road but was blocked by a rapidly rising flood. The water was coming from the river rather than the sea, but he knew he had to get to higher ground. He climbed onto a wall but his view of the ocean was blocked by a small house. The house suddenly collapsed and he could see the sea, eerily silent.
There were four waves that day. In the case of the third and fourth he watched as the seawater drew back in a wall formation revealing the sand and rocks of the seabed. It was the fourth wave that did most of the damage. An earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale with an epi- center off western Sumatra had hit with such force that it constituted the third most powerful earth tremor ever recorded. This wave swept across the Andaman Sea and slammed into the Eastern coast of India and Sri Lanka and propelled onwards to east Africa. Sri Lanka was devastated. A train travelling near Hikkaduwa on the west coast was derailed and the official overall death toll for the country was recorded at 40,000, but many Sri Lankans feel this was an underestimation. Ranil’s house was washed away. All that remained was the concrete outline of the floor. Sadly too, so was his sister in law living next door. Her body has never been found. Ironically, many charities and the government worked to provide housing for the victims. Ranil was never compensated as they said there was no evidence that his home ever existed. It seems a concrete floor did not count!
We spoke to the hotel staff to see if there had been any local alarm, but no, the Sri Lanka media was silent about the earthquake.
“What should we do?”
“We’ll be all right our rooms are on the second floor!” But what about the mini-bus? It’s a long walk to Colombo!”
I decided to phone home to Samui to see if the Thai 10pm News had anything to add to the announcement from the BBC. No there was nothing there either.
“Should we hurry to the hotel, pick up the luggage and head for relative safety inland?"
“No we would wait for a local warning!”
I returned to my guesthouse situated feet from the beach and was told to keep my phone on during the night in case we had to make a fast evacuation. Sitting on the balcony watching the fleet of fishing boats on the horizon was strangely comforting. Dogs barked incessantly during the night, but as the dawn came up we realized the threat had passed. We were lucky. Sri Lanka was spared. The earthquake created a Tsunami that swept onto the Mentani Islands off Sumatra causing heavy loss of life. Because of poor communications help was slow in arriving and Mount Merapi in Java has continued to erupt. A tropical storm has lashed the southern provinces of Thailand for the past week. Samui has experienced severe floods and Songhkla has been devastated with rising water causing some of the ancient walls to collapse. A mini-Tsunami swept across Songkhla Lake dashing away the entire community of houses that nestled on the shoreline. The wave cost three lives and breached the local crocodile farm where 70 big crocs were set free much to the terror of local fishermen. What is going on?

This article by Alister Bredee first appeared in "The Samui Gazette" on 19th November 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

50 one-sentence lessons

You’ve probably seen some of Regina Brett’s “Life Lessons” before, like “When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile,” or “Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger”. They’re from her book God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours. Advice like this never grows old – or unwelcomed – so enjoy these mighty morsels of insight.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
Peace without Comparison and God Never Blinks
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
Candles, Purple and Sex on the Brain.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
Change, Miracles and Second Childhoods.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
Is it Useful, Beautiful or Joyful?
41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
49. Yield.
50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Which is your favorite? Drop us a quick comment and let us know!
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