The Heights

A well-travelled body

Can weary a heart.

You are like a big jet plane;

Your capacity was great

But you’ve gone so far and done so many miles

I wonder if you can ever soar again.

Explore. And be grateful.

On exploring, according to a girl about six years old.

When I watch TV, it’s just some shows that are pretend.

And when you explore, you get more imagination than you already had. And when you get more imagination it makes you wanna go deeper in, so you can get more and see beautifuler things.

Like, the path, if it’s a path it could lead you to a beach or something, and it could be beautiful.

You know what they say: “out of the mouth of babes…..”

The video, which opens with this statement from the little girl, has become a daily meditative starting point for me.

Explore. Open your eyes. And above all, be grateful. Be very, very grateful.

You think this is just another day in your life?

It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you. Today.

It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now.

And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.

… … …

Let the gratfeulness overflow into blessing all around you.

Then it will really be a good day.

Pure Afghanistan

Flying from Dubai to Kabul a few days ago, I took some pictures through the (somewhat filthy) plane window as we approached Kabul. Here are those pics in chronological order.

While this little video doesn’t quite do the majesty of these mountains justice – despite my attempt to heighten the experience with some corny, slow music – let yourself marvel that so many have tried to conquer this place, the ‘graveyard of empires’.

Kabul boy

The Light. The Burn.

An Afghan girl watches the sun set over Kabul.

Her furrowed face gazed at the sun until it passed behind the mountain, ignoring the dozens of kites being flown overhead.

Looking at her, I felt she had experienced loss – perhaps more in her few, shoeless years than I ever will. I wondered what she saw in that deep orange beauty.

It’s a new year.

Around the world, we wish each other luck, joy, success, hope, happiness… We usher in the new year with some fanfare and fireworks – a reflection, perhaps, of our dream of a brighter tomorrow. And who doesn’t dream of a better tomorrow? Who doesn’t hope that this will be the year they change, the year they make a difference, the year it ALL makes sense?

And yet the truth of what actually lightens our life is often lost in the living of it – or even ignored.

Most people would like their lives to be “lightened” in the sense of removing what weighs on them. But what if what weighs on you is precisely what lightens you – in the ENlightening sense? What if those burdens make you more of a light for others?

A great man of the 20th Century summed it up thus:

What is to give light must endure burning.

~ Viktor Frankl, survivor of four Nazi concentration camps, Man’s Search for Meaning

If there was ever a person who could write a book about the search for meaning and arrive at a conclusion that to be enlightened, one must suffer, it is Frankl. His pithy phrase almost attracts you to the idea, until you take a moment to realise what the burning actually means.

Indeed, the most enriched and inspiring lives I know of have had a generous share of the proverbial faeces and fans colliding.

So this year, I wish you all the best. But I do not wish you to have an easy road, or to never be faced with something that requires a heartbreaking effort from you.  Rather, I wish you all the best in accepting those moments, which are sure to come, because it is those moments that ultimately give you a greater understanding of life.

This year, when you find yourself burning for that treasure you have lost – be it a loved one, a friend, a good reputation, health, self-confidence, or if you fail to achieve your goals (or you just fail)… take heart: that burn can become light, for yourself and for others. And that is a valuable thing to gain.