Calm Objectivity

Calm Objectivity

Calmness Enables Clear Thinking

Bob Hoover, a famous test pilot and frequent performer at air shows, was returning to his home in Los Angeles from an air show in San Diego. As described in the magazine Flight Operations, at three hundred feet in the air, both engines suddenly stopped. By deft maneuvering he managed to land the plane, but it was badly damaged although nobody was hurt.

Hoover’s first act after the emergency landing was to inspect the airplane’s fuel. Just as he suspected, the World War II propeller plane he had been flying had been fueled with jet fuel rather than gasoline.

Upon returning to the airport, he asked to see the mechanic who had serviced his airplane. The young man was sick with the agony of his mistake . Tears streamed down his face as Hoover approached. He had just caused the loss of a very expensive plane and could have caused the loss of three lives as well.

You can imagine Hoover’s anger. One could anticipate the tongue-lashing that this proud and precise pilot would unleash  for that carelessness. But Hoover didn’t scold the mechanic; he didn’t even criticize him. Instead, he put his big arm around the man’s shoulder and said, ‘To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.’“*

By calmly and objectively assessing the situation, undistorted by emotion, Hoover is clearly able to perceive the sincerity of the mechanic’s remorse, therefore he forgives him. The mechanic’s burden is lifted and Hoover wins for himself a most loyal mechanic for the rest of his flying days. Objectivity and peaceful circumspection enable clear thinking, thus allowing for the appropriate response in most situations.

*Carnegie, Dale. How to win friends & influence people. Simon & Schuster, 2009. Print

Train of Thought

Train of Thought

As you think, you Travel

In the midst of a crowd jockeying for space to get on board an orange line train on a chilly spring morning in Boston, Kaylor spots a familiar face. Nico, his college roommate, smiles at the sight of his old friend and moves toward him. In their conversation it comes to light that Nico was laid off a year ago and is having a difficult time coping. “This whole system is messed up, man. A third of the jobs in my department were moved to India, do you believe that? Profit permeates all decision making,” Nico says to his friend.

Sensing the deep frustration in Nico’s words, Kaylor encourages his friend to avoid pessimism. “Imagine a man who is heading to Forest Hills but takes the train going the opposite direction to Oak Grove. Upon exiting the train at Oak Grove, does this man blame the train driver or the longstanding train routes?”

“No … but what does this have to do with me?” replies Nico.

“You have the choice to hop on any of the many trains at the train station but you are then subject to its routes and schedule, you cannot get on the Oak Grove train and somehow expect it to get you to Forest Hills. As with the trains so is it with a man’s thoughts. Avoid the train of pessimism if you wish to get to peace.”

“Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are”

James Allen

Ever-Present Guidance

A week before Rupiah Sata left for the United States, she visited her dear friend Chanda in a final attempt to persuade her to apply for the American Visa Lottery. To appease the unrelenting Rupiah, Chanda promised to apply before the November 24th deadline. “I have no intention of leaving Zambia and my application will not even be selected, but if it makes you happy I will apply,” she said smiling.

A few months later Chanda, who had completely forgotten about her application, received a letter at work informing her that of the 13 million applications received by the U.S. Department of State, hers was among the 55,000 randomly chosen. She sat on the information for weeks and told no one about it, not even Rupiah. What would she do in America?  Her home, friends and family were all in Zambia. She enjoyed her job and was well compensated as a senior manager in a technology company in the hearth of the capital city, Lusaka. There was no reason to leave all this behind only to start afresh in a new country she knew very little about.

In quiet moments, she sometimes heard a subtle but clear voice within reminding her that her selection for the American visa was no accident. She ignored the voice as best she could for she was comfortable in Lusaka. For affirmation on her decision to remain in Lusaka, she confided in her father who to her surprise encouraged her to seek guidance prayerfully. “This is a big decision that should not be taken lightly, let us be guided by the wisdom of creation and not by our own short-sighted thinking,” he said lovingly. Chanda prayed for clarity for weeks and would sometimes hear that same subtle voice admonishing her to move to America but she needed more ‘proof’ that this was indeed the right move. “What if my inner voice is wrong, what if I am unable to get a good job there, what if…”  With her intellectual pondering and fears, she forgot her father’s advice.

Deep in sleep one night, she was awoken by loud shouts and cries. Armed robbers had gotten past security and broken into the house demanding money. They headed straight to the master bedroom with their guns and found Chanda hiding inside her closet. “Where is the man of the house, where is the money,” they shouted impatiently. Chanda, in shock, pointed to her jewelry case by the mirror and to her bag on the floor beside the bed. “Take the money, take everything,” she pleaded.  They grabbed all they could hurriedly and escaped as they heard distant sounds of police sirens. From that day onward, she could no longer sleep at night for more than a couple of hours. Her performance at work suffered due largely in part to her lack of sleep, anxiety and restlessness. Life in Lusaka very quickly became unbearable and she knew it was time to move to the United States.

In the United States, she reconnected with Rupiah and for the first time in weeks felt like herself again . After the traumatizing event of the robbery and the sleepless nights that followed, Chanda was ready for a new beginning and was prepared to face any challenge.  Her educational qualifications were not recognized in the U.S. so she, a senior manager at one of the premier companies in Zambia, had to go back to school while working as a cashier at a local grocery store in order to support herself. She was always interested in medicine and decided to use this opportunity to begin a new career. For nine years, she took on the rigors of medical school along with two part time jobs. Not once did she feel that her work at the grocery store was beneath her, not once did she reminisce of her days as a senior manager, not once did she complain. Her experience with the robbery gave her CONVICTION in the rightness of her new path. She persevered with the trust of a child confident of its parent’s protection and guidance. She would later go on to find her calling as a naturopathic doctor and unearth great medicinal benefits of plants that ameliorate effects of mental illnesses.

A deep reflection of past experiences will reveal the loving guidance which surrounds us even in the most challenging of times. The acknowledgment of this high guidance gives one the strength to persevere through any difficulty with victorious confidence.

Fakira’s Mirror

“Does she see herself, how can she leave her house wearing those tight shorts,” Fakira said to her friend Sodiq after seeing their fellow classmate, Aisha who is only 5 feet tall but is easily over 220 pounds. “You would think that losing some weight would be a priority but she is not even bothered, does she not realize how easier her life would be if she freed herself from some of that weight?” She added.

“We all have our lives to live. Let her be,” Sodiq said in response.

As with Aisha, imagine all the unnecessary weight we carry around in the form of excessive anxieties and worries. We carry this ignoble burden around and are oblivious to our spiritual obesity because no time is taken in the middle of the haste for reflection. Could we but throw off this excess weight, how much easier life would then become.

With the right perception, Fakira could have gained much from her encounter with Aisha for she was being shown a picture of her inner state in the form of Aisha. She could not see this and thereby missed the opportunity presented for spiritual growth. Not for nothing do we encounter various experiences in the course of the day; we just need to make the effort to draw the right lessons from each experience.

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

The Hypocrisy of Finding Faults in Another While Ignoring One’s Own

Watching the six o’clock news as a celebrity’s struggle with alcoholism and infidelity is being expounded and dissected, Julius shakes his head disapprovingly.

“This guy is a dog, man” he says  in the presence of his wife, Simone.

“Are you sure you are any better?” She replied gently.

“Come on now Simone, how can you say that to me?”

“Before you criticize this man, can you say with certainty that you would act differently if you had his celebrity status and all the temptations that come with it?” Julius smiled and said no more.

In some cases, a disgraced “role model” is far ahead of many so called “respectable” people. The public exposure of his vices forces him to honestly assess himself divorced of the delusion that he is better than he actually is. It brings him down from the artificial podium given to him by the very people who now delight in his downfall. With his feet firmly on the ground, he can then begin to build himself up again on a sound foundation.

As superbly demonstrated in the below scenes from the movie, “Flight,” It took a plane crash and jail time to expose Pilot Whip Whitaker’s addiction to alcoholism and thus free him of his false sense of pride.

On the other hand, the man who condemns others often has similar or even greater vices slumbering with him. Imagine the irony of a  pot, thoroughly covered in black soot, calling a kettle black. Simply because he has managed to keep his vices hidden from the public, he thinks he has the right to pass judgement on others. Better yet, he could learn from the mistakes of others to ensure he avoids them.

What Next?

Car on Highway
What Next?

Service is Joy

“What next?” These words escaped from Sandra Wilson on her drive back from the University of Wisconsin. Suddenly overcome by sadness and heaviness of heart, she parked on the side of the road to regain her composure.

Her last child, Nathan, is now off to college and although she had been preparing for this day for months, it only now became a reality. “What next?” Since her divorce a decade earlier, all she did revolved around her three children. She loved them and was happy at their progress into adulthood but she also felt an overwhelming feeling of abandonment, a loneliness that ate her up. As she watched the cars zoom by with tears dripping slowly down her face, she entertained the thought of joining her beloved mother in the afterlife. “What next, what do I have to look forward to?” It was not that long ago she graduated from college with great hopes of a future with a loving family and a fulfilling career. All that is behind her now. How quickly the years go by, she mused.

Suddenly, her day dreaming was interrupted by an old green Isuzu pick-up truck which barely made it off the road and was parked just ahead of her. Something was obviously wrong so she wiped away her tears and proceeded to find out if the stranded gentleman needed any help. His truck had run out of gas and he was extremely grateful to Ms. Wilson for her help in driving him to a gas station to procure gas and bringing him back to his vehicle.

Her service to the stranger erased her previous anxiety of living alone without her children. She had found the answer to her question, “What next?” Daily, every single human being is given the opportunity to find true joy through service. This simple realization was helpful to Ms. Wilson because it was the absence of joy which she feared with Nathan’s departure and she now knows that joy is ever-present through genuine service.

Every charm of life passes, only love remains because it is the very essence of life. Where love is absent there is no life, just mere existence. Where love is present, however, there is also service and thus joy.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” 

~Rabindranath Tagore

Tell me what you want

Help Cannot Approach A Complainer

Many centuries ago in the Middle East, a man in simple garb walked the streets as the shining light and staff for all those who yearned to be true human beings.

One day a woman condemned by the society as a harlot and thus treated with the utmost disrespect came to the end of her road. She could no longer go on living as a pariah and saw in this great man, whom they called “Master,” her only hope for a better existence.

She stood for hours struggling through the crowd without success to get closer to the Master as He addressed the multitude, so she waited until the crowd dispersed. As He turned to leave, she ran towards His direction and  called out to Him. She was speechless when she stood before Him and bowed her head.

“You wish to speak to me? Tell me what you want, the Master said.”

She lost her shyness and said in a weary voice: “See how they all despise me, Master! I cannot speak in their presence. Indeed they make it impossible for me to lead a different life again. They always remind me of my sin, and shun me wherever they see me. They take their children away when I walk in the street, and threaten to stone me.”

The Master said nothing, He walked quietly on, and the woman remained by His side without any objection from Him. He left the town, and still the woman walked by the side of the Master. And hours went by.

Then the Master halted. “What do you hope for from me, that you do not go home?”

“A word of advice, Sir.”

“When I asked what you wanted you made accusations! You had nothing but complaints and lamentations. That is why I could not help you. Now I will give you advice. Go to another country and begin the new life for which you long. Work from morning till night in order to forget the past. You are young, and can still make up for all that you have neglected.”


Daily, hourly, creation says the same to us, “Tell me what you want.” We respond by the nature of our innermost thoughts, words, and deeds. Help cannot reach the man who whines and complains, it simply finds no connection. It however unfailingly reaches him who makes the effort to seek humbly and live honorably, often times coming when least expected.


*Inspired from an Account of The Life of Christ


John Wooden Teaches

Success! What does this word mean to you? Former University of California teacher and basketball coach, John Wooden, shares his definition of Success.

Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.

Zainab’s Mother

Love… It was because of her Love

Meryem was abandoned by her family for marrying below her status only to later discover that the man she gave up her family for would himself abandon her. His ever growing frustration with the very high levels of unemployment in early 1980s Turkey led to his affair with alcoholism, which subsequently derailed their marriage.

As the sole provider for her two girls, Meryem had to leave the only place she called home in order to put food on the table and send her daughters to school. She worked as a janitor in West Germany for ten years, indifferent to the cold-heartedness of her German neighbors who were threatened by the flood of Turkish workers inhabiting their city. She slept on the street with her daughters on few occasions when she was unable to gather enough money to pay for their accommodation.

Despite the difficulties, Meryem made every sacrifice to ensure Zainab and her sister Zehru did not lack the essentials for their education. Many years later Zainab, who became a successful author, asked her mother about one particular incident. This event was so clear in Zainab’s memory, it had such an impact on her because it was the only time she ever saw her invincible mother cry.

It was a cold February evening in their second year in West Germany, Zainab was seven years old. Meryem paced around a popular street corner with her girls asking for spare change from passers-by when a  young German woman with compassionate green eyes approached them. She took off her coat and wrapped it around the shivering Meryem. Seeing the hungry faces of the little girls, she emptied her purse of all the cash in her possession. She embraced Meryem warmly, waved to the girls and continued on towards her destination.

“Mother”, Zainab asked, “you have been through so much hardship without once outwardly showing any sign of defeat, why did you break down in tears after that kind woman embraced you and placed her coat around you?”

“It was because of her LOVE my dear,” responded Meryem.

“You can steel your heart against any type of trouble, any kind of horror. But a simple act of kindness from a complete stranger will unstitch you.” 

Chris Abani