Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour a day to drain the fluids from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed next to the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed would live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man had said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band, he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should hehave all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn't seem fair. As the thought fermented, the man felt ashamed at first. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window - and that thought now controlled his life.
Late one night, as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running. In less than five minutes, the coughing and choking stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now, there was only silence--deathly silence.
The following morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendant to take it away--no words, no fuss. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall.
Moral of the story:
The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice...it is a positive attitude we consciously choose to express. It is not a gift that gets delivered to our doorstep each morning, nor does it come through the window. And I am certain that our circumstances are just a small part of what makes us joyful. If we wait for them to get just right, we will never find lasting joy.
The pursuit of happiness is an inward journey. Our minds are like programs, awaiting the code that will determine behaviors; like bank vaults awaiting our deposits. If we regularly deposit positive, encouraging, and uplifting thoughts, if we continue to bite our lips just before we begin to grumble and complain, if we shoot down that seemingly harmless negative thought as it germinates, we will find that there is much to rejoice about.
Monday, 14 March 2011
In 1883, a creative engineer named John Roebling was inspired by an idea to build a spectacular bridge connecting New York with the Long Island. However bridge building experts throughout the world thought that this was an impossible feat and told Roebling to forget the idea. It just could not be done. It was not practical. It had never been done before.
Roebling could not ignore the vision he had in his mind of this bridge. He thought about it all the time and he knew deep in his heart that it could be done. He just had to share the dream with someone else. After much discussion and persuasion he managed to convince his son Washington, an up and coming engineer, that the bridge in fact could be built.
Working together for the first time, the father and son developed concepts of how it could be accomplished and how the obstacles could be overcome. With great excitement and inspiration, and the headiness of a wild challenge before them, they hired their crew and began to build their dream bridge.
The project started well, but when it was only a few months underway a tragic accident on the site took the life of John Roebling. Washington was injured and left with a certain amount of brain damage, which resulted in him not being able to walk or talk or even move.
"We told them so."
"Crazy men and their crazy dreams."
"It`s foolish to chase wild visions."
"Crazy men and their crazy dreams."
"It`s foolish to chase wild visions."
Everyone had a negative comment to make and felt that the project should be scrapped since the Roeblings were the only ones who knew how the bridge could be built. In spite of his handicap Washington was never discouraged and still had a burning desire to complete the bridge and his mind was still as sharp as ever.
He tried to inspire and pass on his enthusiasm to some of his friends, but they were too daunted by the task. As he lay on his bed in his hospital room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows, a gentle breeze blew the flimsy white curtains apart and he was able to see the sky and the tops of the trees outside for just a moment.
It seemed that there was a message for him not to give up. Suddenly an idea hit him. All he could do was move one finger and he decided to make the best use of it. By moving this, he slowly developed a code of communication with his wife.
He touched his wife's arm with that finger, indicating to her that he wanted her to call the engineers again. Then he used the same method of tapping her arm to tell the engineers what to do. It seemed foolish but the project was under way again.
For 13 years Washington tapped out his instructions with his finger on his wife's arm, until the bridge was finally completed. Today the spectacular Brooklyn Bridge stands in all its glory as a tribute to the triumph of one man's indomitable spirit and his determination not to be defeated by circumstances. It is also a tribute to the engineers and their team work, and to their faith in a man who was considered mad by half the world. It stands too as a tangible monument to the love and devotion of his wife who for 13 long years patiently decoded the messages of her husband and told the engineers what to do.
Perhaps this is one of the best examples of a never-say-die attitude that overcomes a terrible physical handicap and achieves an impossible goal.
Often when we face obstacles in our day-to-day life, our hurdles seem very small in comparison to what many others have to face. The Brooklyn Bridge shows us that dreams that seem impossible can be realised with determination and persistence, no matter what the odds are.Even the most distant dream can be realized with determination and persistence.
Mae’s Diary, October 1, 1972
Dear diary, from the dark ashes of a cold winter, spring brings love. And from a steamy summer the new found feeling peaks. Then comes fall and with it, the demise of love. These are nature’s seasons, but for me they represent stages of my heartbreak.
After a year of my relationship with John, things took a turn for the worst and he left me. He became selfish and fighting for the survival of himself. Gone was the beautiful spirit I had fallen in love with, and now I see the arrogant person all those around me always saw. I remembered how I ignored the warnings from the guys in his band. They told me John was self-centered, and incapable of loving anyone but himself. I also, disregarded all the broken hearts he left lying about without concern.
Looking back on the day we were no more, it was like any other ordinary day. John said he was going out for awhile, and promised he would be back later. At this stage in our relationship we had been living together for over a year. We had seen the best of times, but also the worst of it. Despite all of this, we were still together, and I thought we had a love that could withstand all the negativity and his estranged love affairs.
How wrong I was, minutes turned into hours and then daybreak finally arrived and he never came back. At least for him it was simple, we were over. To this day, he has never given me a reason or explanation. He never came for his things, cowardly he sent two of friends to pack him up.
Occasionally, I run into to him on the touring circuit, I pretend everything is going great for me. Little does he know, right after he left I was unable to get out of bed. There wasn’t anything anyone could tell me to make me try again, to try at life once more. The only thing I wanted to do was allow my silent tears to wet my pillow. I constantly questioned myself on what I had done wrong for him to alienate me. During that time I had also convinced myself my affair with love was over. Never again, would I love someone as I did John.
I wondered sometime was I being punished for being a disobedient child. I ran away in pursuant of a fantasy, threw away stability and safety of a loving family. Was I finally reaping the harvest of the bad seeds I had sown? Was my father’s prediction of this fast living becoming a reality? Arthur Lee always said the devil’s music would bring me nothing but heartache and failure, not the success I longed for. Maybe he was right, because at this point I had only racked up a broken heart, not the accolades of stardom I was convinced would find me.
For weeks I walked through life in a fog, I was missing rehearsals, and barely showing up for performances. There was talk in the band of searching for a new singer if I didn’t pull out of my funk. The reality of taking my music away from me sent a shock wave through my body, and awakened me. I had to fight back, and decide to live again. Slowly, I begun to allow the bitterness of this heartache to melt. I am taking it one day at a time, in hopes the next day will be much better than the next. Everyone says I should be over this by now, but no one understands how hard it is to get over someone you knew deep down was yours for life. I am now faced with waiting on the winds of change, and with it will bring time to heal me.
One of the guys in my band comes by every night to see how I am doing. He asked me why I am taking all the responsibility of failure. He said when I was ready, and as painful as it would be I needed to travel back to the relationship. Once I relived the memories, I would see it was John who gave up, and didn’t truly love me. He also said John was the one who couldn’t commit, and didn’t understand how precious it was to have love. It was a lesson in heartbreak, but I would survive, he assured me.
Five months have passed, and with each day I grow stronger. We were lucky to get a gig in New York, and when we are not performing, I take long walks through Central Park. One golden autumn afternoon during my stroll through the park, I suddenly realized nature was in the mist of change. Gone was all the greenery, the smell of fresh flowers and birds singing in unison. It was replaced with a rustic scene of life’s realities, and the nakedness of truth could no longer hide in spring’s innocence. I stooped down to pick up a large brown leaf. I took the leaf and crushed it in my hand, and allowed the rusty pieces to fall to the ground. With blurred vision, I stared at this metamorphous of nature. It was reminiscent of my heart that was once so full of love, now broken into tiny pieces.
I stood up and realized it was to let go, time to take the journey to the past. During my journey I would forgive myself, and love myself more than I had loved this man. Once I return from this difficult passage I will try again for another season, with the hopes that this time I will not have to live through a fall.