Never, ever give up!

Posted by Freddy on Sep-24-2011

As I have mentioned in my previous blog, I am a person who is so very much inspired by Sir Winston Churchill. Colossal men like him write and re write history. All that we, ordinary mortals can do is to derive inspiration from their lives for our own personal betterment. Here is a very powerful instance where he inspired, perhaps a whole generation.

Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises.

He arrived with his usual props – a cigar, a cane and a top hat. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!”

Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: “NEVER GIVE UP!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform.

His commencement address was over!

Get Up

Posted by Freddy on Sep-17-2011

Bringing a giraffe into the world is a tall order. A baby giraffe falls 10 feet from its mother’s womb and usually lands on its back. Within seconds it rolls over and tucks its legs under its body. From this position it considers the world for the first time and shakes off the last vestiges of the birthing fluid from its eyes and ears. Then the mother giraffe rudely introduces its offspring to the reality of life.

In his book, “A View from the Zoo”, Gary Richmond describes how a newborn giraffe learns its first lesson.

The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to take a quick look. Then she positions herself directly over her calf. She waits for about a minute, and then she does the most unreasonable thing. She swings her long, pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, so that it is sent sprawling head over heels.

When it doesn’t get up, the violent process is repeated over and over again. The struggle to rise is momentous. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts. Finally, the calf stands for the first time on its wobbly legs.

Then the mother giraffe does the most remarkable thing. She kicks it off its feet again. Why? She wants it to remember how it got up. In the wild, baby giraffes must be able to get up as quickly as possible to stay with the herd, where there is safety. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild hunting dogs all enjoy young giraffes, and they’d get it too, if the mother didn’t teach her calf to get up quickly and get with it.

The late Irving Stone understood this. He spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing novelized biographies of such men as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin.

Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that runs through the lives of all these exceptional people. He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished and they go to work.

“They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified, and for years they get nowhere. But every time they’re knocked down they stand up. You cannot destroy these people. And at the end of their lives they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.”

The Touchstone

Posted by Freddy on Sep-10-2011

When the great library of Alexandria burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.The book wasn’t very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the “Touchstone”!

The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold.

So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.

He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold – throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.

The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about mid afternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away.

So it is with opportunity. Unless we are vigilant, it’s easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it’s just as easy to throw it away.

The Adventures with a Paint Brush

Posted by Freddy on Sep-3-2011

I have always admired Sir Winston Churchill’s writings and I am quite contended to say I have read a considerable quantity of his works. Certain lines of his leave an indelible mark in the heart, that it becomes a part of all that, which are credited with the building up of one’s character. I was going through the book : “Amid these Storms” and decided to share with you all my gracious readers, the way in which Winston Churchill took to painting and what he felt about it.

“To have reached the age of forty without ever handling a brush, to have regarded the painting of pictures as a mystery, and then suddenly to find oneself plunged into the middle of a new interest with paints and palettes and canvases- and not to be discouraged by results- is an astonishing and enriching experience. I hope it may be shared by others.

For to be really happy and to avoid worry and mental over-strain we ought all to have hobbies, and they must all be real. Best of all, and the easiest to take up, are sketching and painting. They came to my rescue late in life, at a most trying time.

When I left admiralty at the end of 1915, I still remained a member of the cabinet and of the War Council. In this position I knew everything and could do nothing. I had vehement convictions and no power to give effect to them; I had enforced leisure at a moment when every fiber of my being was inflamed to action. And then it was, one Sunday in the country that the children’s paint box came to my aid. My first experiments with their toy watercolours led me to secure, next morning, a complete outfit for painting in oils. The next step was to begin. The Palette gleamed with beads of colour; fair and white rose the canvas; the empty brush hung poised, heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. Very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint with a very small brush, and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a small bean upon the affronted snow white shield. At that moment a motorcar was heard on the drive and from it there stepped none other than the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery, the distinguished portrait painter. “Painting! But what are you hesitating about? Let me have a brush a big one.” Splash into the turpentine, a wallop into the blue and white, frantic flourish on my palette, and then several large, fierce strokes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas. The Spell was broken. My Sticky ambition rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since.

This beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting. We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a simple joyride in a paint box. And for this, audacity is the only ticket.

Try it, if you have not done so –BEFORE YOU DIE.”

The Wonder that this World Is !

Posted by Freddy on Aug-28-2011

I am a very happy person. Jovial and jolly all the time. I think I got this character right from my childhood days when I started wondering at each and every thing I observed. This world is such a beautiful place, with miracles happening right before our eyes in each and every object surrounding us. All that we need is an eye to see the wonders and a mind to read and understand the miracles. When we do it each time, the child in us is invoked.

One of the unanswered questions of life is: “When is old age?” My answer would be: When we have ceased to wonder. Harold Nicholson, English biographer and historian, says that his grandmother lived in a state of “incandescent amazement.” She not only remembered the first steam packet but lived to hear of M. Bleriot flying the Channel. The amazement with which this remarkable old lady exulted in the surprises of our astonishing world kept her young. If the young people around her became blasé, she would rap up her ebony stick and demand that they greet the surprises of this Jules Verne world with something of the excitement which she felt herself. She lived to be ninety-nine.

Those who wonder, are always exultingly asking, “What next?” They have a child like eagerness. Nor will they be disappointed at death. To them, death itself may seem the most exciting adventure of all! Isn’t that exciting in itself?

Make a mistake!!!

Posted by Freddy on Aug-20-2011

How often we intend one thing and it turns out into another! We tend to make mistakes but surprisingly some turn out to be good and give an entirely new dimension to life.

Some mistakes turn out to be fun filled and interesting, at times humorous too. For example a wrong book comes home from the library and opens a whole new field of interest or a wrongly added ingredient, gives a new savor to the dish. The list is endless… Similarly, I know of a student, who wandered into the wrong classroom and became so interested in the subject being discussed there that he pursued it and made it his career. I need scarcely add that, being so absent minded, he became a famous professor.

Mistakes, usually becomes the catalyst for most of the good things that happen in life. It should take the edge off disappointment to remember that half the things that go wrong surprise us by turning out all right!

A tale from the Japanese

Posted by Freddy on Aug-13-2011

Now that I am back to sailing, the occupation that I was designed for, I am in the best of spirits. With the fever gone, good food, weather and fresh air, I can’t but feel so elated. This makes me want to share with my readers’ anecdotes that have stuck my mind with their deep penetrating effect. The fact that the source is forgotten is hardly important with respect to the content. Here is one such.

The Japanese have always loved fresh fish. But the waters close to Japan have not held many fish for decades. So to feed the Japanese population, fishing boats got bigger and went farther than ever. The farther the fishermen went, the longer it took to bring in the fish. If the return trip took more than a few days, the fish were not fresh.
The Japanese did not like the taste of stale fish. To solve this problem, fishing companies installed freezers on their boats. They would catch the fish and freeze them at sea. Freezers allowed the boats to go farther and stay longer. However, the Japanese could taste the difference between fresh and frozen and they did not like frozen fish. The frozen fish brought a lower price. So fishing companies installed fish tanks. They would catch the fish and stuff them in the tanks, fin to fin. After a little thrashing around, the fish stopped moving. They were tired and dull, but alive. Unfortunately, the Japanese could still taste the difference. Because the fish did not move for days, they lost their fresh-fish taste. The Japanese preferred the lively taste of fresh fish, not sluggish fish.

So how did Japanese fishing companies solve this problem?

Here’s what they did:
The Japanese fishing companies still put the fish in the tanks. But now they added a small shark to each tank. The shark eats a few fish, but most of the fish arrive in a very lively state. The fish are active and challenged.

Have you realized that some of us are also living in a pond but most of the time tired & dull, so we need a Shark in our life to keep us awake and moving? Basically in our lives Sharks are new challenges to keep us active and taste better…

Two Great Painters

Posted by Freddy on Aug-6-2011

Sometimes it takes a brilliant stroke of action by someone very wise to control successful yet boastful people. This happens mostly when these stalwarts of success challenge the world in a bid to establish their sole proprietorship to greatness in the chosen area. It is when they are met with someone very humble and ordinary with extraordinary capabilities.

There was once a painter whose name was Zeuxis. He could paint pictures so life-like that they were mistaken for the real things which they represented. At one time he painted the picture of some fruit which was so real that the birds flew down and pecked at it. This made him very proud of his skill. “I am the only man in the world who can paint a picture so true to life,” he said.

There was another famous artist whose name was Parrhasius. When he heard of the boast which Zeuxis had made, he said to himself, “I will see what I can do.” So he painted a beautiful picture which seemed to be covered with a curtain. Then he invited Zeuxis to come and see it. Zeuxis looked at it closely. “Draw the curtain aside and show us the picture,” he said. Parrhasius laughed and answered, “THE CURTAIN IS THE PICTURE.” “Well,” said Zeuxis, “you have beaten me this time, and I shall boast no more. I deceived only the birds, but you have deceived me, a painter.”

Sometime after this, Zeuxis painted another wonderful picture. It was that of a boy carrying a basket of ripe red cherries. When he hung this painting outside of his door, some birds flew down and tried to carry the cherries away. “Ah! This picture is a failure,” he said. “For, if the boy had been as well painted as the cherries, the birds would have been afraid to come near him.”

Prejudice

Posted by Freddy on Jul-30-2011

There are times when people, especially the haughty ones, find themselves deflated of that huge bloated balloon of ego and self importance, and falling from the high heavens above, nose down to where they actually belong – the floor. This happens most of the times with people of that part of the world that boasts of the power of the money, which they acquired during the times of imperialism. Money without a tradition. And this is a sample of the blooper:

At the final dinner of an International Marine Conference, an American delegate turned to the Chinese delegate sitting next to him, pointed to the soup and asked somewhat condescendingly, ‘Likeee soupeee?’

The Chinese gentlemen nodded eagerly.

A little later, it was ‘Likeee fisheee?’ and ‘Likeee meateee?’ and ‘Likeee fruiteee?’ and always the response was an affable nod.

At the end of the dinner the chairman of the conference introduced the guest speaker of the evening: none other than the Chinese gentleman who delivered a penetrating, witty discourse in impeccable English, much to the astonishment of his American neighbour.

When the speech was over, the speaker turned to his neighbour and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye and asked, ‘Likeee speecheee?’

The Descent

Posted by Freddy on Jul-23-2011

My fever has left me for good, or at least has taken a break and decided to visit other fine people of the neighborhood, leaving me where I was, merry and full of mirth. It was a fine season and the weather these days are perfect for a refreshing sojourn. I have taken up my favourite books once again, and decided to amuse myself with the creativity of some of the writers whom I consider are simply out of the world. I would like to share with you some of the things that leave me smiling or chuckling, for I consider it the noblest quality to make people around you smile.

“One uses the verb ‘descend’ advisedly, for what is required is some word suggesting instant activity. About his progress from the second floor to the first there was nothing halting or hesitating. He, so to speak, did it now. Planting his foot firmly on a golf-ball which some honourable person who had been practising putting in the corridor before retiring to bed, had left in his casual fashion just where the steps began, he took the entire staircase in one majestic, volplaning sweep. There were eleven stairs in all separating his landing from the landing below, and the only ones he hit were the third and tenth. He came to rest with a squattering thud on the lower landing, and for a moment or two the fever of the chase left him.”

So goes the description of a dreadful fall that a certain person experienced while descending the staircase, in the style of the inimitable genius of Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, who is capable of transforming any infernal situation into a side cracking hilarious anecdote, worth remembering again and again. I would share with you all, my friends, some of these gems, to brighten up your day as well as to introduce you to pieces of very fine literature that has come from the pen!