Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore wrote:
“My world that flourishes carries my worlds that have failed.”
You say, “Well, I know something about worlds that have failed.”
Don’t we all. To be human is to fail. We’ve never met anyone who hasn’t failed.
Failure won’t kill us. But the way we think about and handle failure might.
We could, for example, try to sweep failure under the rug, pretend it’s not there.
Problem is, that might turn us into Hot Air Balloons who pretend to be bigger than they are. And Hot Air Balloons have a way of getting punctured sooner or later.
We could spend our life fighting failure. Maybe trying to figure out what’s wrong with us. But that’s, ultimately, a frustrating, discouraging and losing proposition.
Neither one of these is a good way to carry failure. The load will ultimately weigh us down.
I like Tagore’s approach. Let your world that flourishes carry your worlds that have failed.
Did you know you have a world that flourishes? You do.
You carry it inside—the potential for joy, exuberance, laughter, creativity (even if just creating a new meal for dinner). The ability to forgive and give freely without expectations, to care deeply, to stay curious, to revive your spirit of wonder.
Quite a flourishing world we have in there!
This way of carrying failure will help keep us from being too weighed down…help keep our hearts light.
We may need to go a little deeper and get a little more skilled at being quiet and accessing that world once in a while.
But I believe it’s true: your world that flourishes can carry your worlds that have failed.
How long has it been since someone listened—really listened—to you?
How long has it been since you truly, deeply listened to someone?
“Listen completely. Most people never listen.”
(Now we know one of the things that made him such a good writer!)
It’s true, isn’t it? Good listeners are rare. And it’s not easy. We often find ourselves half-listening rather than “listening completely”.
To listen completely is to not only listen to what the other person is saying. It also means to listen to what’s not said, to the thoughts behind the words or between the lines, to the tone of voice or special emphasis that clues us in.
True, deep listening may be one of the best investments we can make in our relationships. But there’s more.
Taylor Caldwell reflected on the further importance of listening in The Listener:
“Man does not need to go to the moon or other solar systems. He doesn’t require bigger and better bombs and missiles. And he will not die if he does not get better housing or more vitamins. His basic needs are few. And it takes little to acquire them, in spite of the advertisers. He can survive on a small amount of bread and meager shelter. His real need, his most terrible need, is for someone to listen to him.”
We sometimes wonder, how can I make a difference in this complicated world?
Perhaps today we could begin to make a difference…by becoming a better listener.
As a verse in the Bible says:
“Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
In times like these, we need the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“The wise man, in the storm, prays not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.”
When a new year begins, you hear lots of predictions about what’s going to happen in the coming year. But they’re usually wrong.
The truth is, we don’t know what the future holds. As my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Davis, frequently reminded us, “Only two things are certain: death and taxes.”
So what do we do with a fact like that? There are at least two possibilities.
One, we can live in fear of what might happen. We can walk around like a juggler who is juggling sharp knives, afraid that one is going to fall and slice him up. But that leaves us vulnerable to “the storm within.”
Or we can get the upper hand on fear by living for something that is bigger than failure, bigger than disappointments, bigger than tragedy, bigger than fear.
Not love as only an emotion, but love as a way of life, a way of being, a commitment to do no harm and seek the good of all, without conditions or expectations.
The Bible says:
“Perfect love casts out fear.”
Genuine love is the one thing fear can’t handle. It’s the one thing we can focus on when the storms rage.
And, strange as it may sound, living a life of love equips us to stand tall in the storms.
When love and fear get in the ring it’s no contest. Love wins every time—by a knockout!
I love the sense of newness and possibility we often feel on the first day of the year. It’s a wonderful moment for making new plans.
Of course, we know what the real challenge is, don’t we? The follow-through!
It’s about what happens to our plans and dreams and resolutions when daily life rushes in with all its demands and distractions.
We probably shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves here. We’re probably doing better than we think we are.
But it does raise an interesting question:
What does it take to translate my plans and ideas and dreams into everyday life?
What keeps me going? What is the fuel of my plans and dreams? And when I run out of gas…how do I refuel?
Here’s a “refueling thought” from Dr. Samuel Johnson:
“The love of life is necessary to the vigorous prosecution of any undertaking.”
What if you thought of the “love of life” as the prerequisite for anything you want to do this year.
What if you saw all of your undertakings as expressions of something quieter and deeper—your commitment to love life.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be dark times. It’s a quiet affirmation to say yes, to open up, to care deeply—not in spite of problems and disappointments but because problems and disappointments are going to be there.
A Jewish man who had been horribly tortured in the concentration camps of World War II, disabled for life, joined together with other concentration camp survivors after the war to start an organization devoted to helping the less fortunate.
An interviewer asked him, “You’ve suffered so much yourself; why have you decided to spend your life helping others?”
He thought for a moment, then answered, “Ultimately, it is because we love life.”