Sunday, January 31, 2010

"My Life is My Message"

The title of this post is taken from a quote by the great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi.  I always had a soft spot for this philosophies of peaceful resistance through which he led India from under British rule to independence in the 20th Century.  The Mahatma was an ascetic person and was therefore very thin and frail.  In my younger days my family nicknamed me Gandhi because I too was skin and bones like him (yes, that's me not Gandhi below!).  So my interest in him has been moving along from the late Fifties.

The Mahatma (his picture is on the next page!) was always commenting on certain logical truths which he had identified in life, many times these were of a spiritual nature from which he drew his political leadership strength.  Though he was a devout Hindu he was well read in other religions too and was able to comment about what was the right way to do things.  I am today drawing on a couple of his more famous comments to give our modern minds something to mill over.

The quote itself.....

It is said that once, upon visiting Bengal, Mahatma Gandhi was asked to give a message to the people of India. To which he responded "My life is my message". He believed that what he did would be seen as being his message and therefore his life had to reflect what he stood for.  He also had to be exemplary in how he lived his life.  He drew a lot on his knowledge of Christianity and Islam, the two other major religions in his country and was therefore able to reach out to one and all with the fullness of this knowledge behind him.

This philosophy still stands the measure of time.  We can easily ask ourselves today whether our life is our message. Do others see in us what we really stand for?  Dowe live what we say we believe? Are we fickle in what we do at home or at work or do we hide behind masks and try to impress others with an untrue image of ourselves?  And are our religious beliefs an important part of our life or just something to relegate to the backrooms of our existence?

In Gandhi's autobiography we find that he indicates that as soon as we lose the moral basis of our life, we cease to be religious. "There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality" he says. "Man, for instance, cannot be untruthful, cruel or incontinent and claim to have God on his side".  How true. And said by one who was not a Christian or a Muslim for that matter!

Friday, January 22, 2010


Prof. Alessandro Cicognani, the Director of the Paediatric Operational Unit of the University of Bologna and also head of paediatrics at Sant‘Orsola Hospital of the same Italian city, has circulated a poem written by a terminally ill young cancer patient who wishes to draw attention to the malaise around us....the modern sickness...that we're going too fast! And need to slow down. We need to look at ourselves and note that in our rush to get things done we could even be hurting those we care about. The poem’s theme is that we should draw the line, enough is enough!

I am reproducing it below as I received it…in Italian…as it seems so more poetically poignant in that language. Cicognani says he received it from a doctor who indicated that he was trying to spread the plea round the world. He did his bit. And since I support the Facebook cause “Lord I pray for a cure for Cancer" I am now doing mine too.  

May you have a blessed day especially if you send this on its way.


Hai mai guardato i bambini in un girotondo?
O ascoltato il rumore della pioggia
     quando cade a terra?
O seguito mai lo svolazzare
     irregolare di una farfalla?
O osservato il sole allo
     svanire della notte?
Faresti meglio a rallentare.
    Non danzare così veloce.
Il tempo è breve.
    La musica non durerà.

Percorri ogni giorno in volo?
Quando dici "Come stai?"
    ascolti la risposta?

Quando la giornata è finita
    ti stendi sul tuo letto
    con centinaia di questioni successive
    che ti passano per la testa?
Faresti meglio a rallentare.
   Non danzare così veloce
      Il tempo è breve.
     La musica non durerà.

Hai mai detto a tuo figlio,
    "lo faremo domani?"
    senza notare, nella fretta,
    il suo dispiacere?

Hai mai perso il contatto
con una buona amicizia
    che poi è finita perché
   tu non avevi mai avuto tempo
   di chiamare e dire "Ciao"?
Faresti meglio a rallentare.
   Non danzare così veloce.
     Il tempo è breve.
    La musica non durerà.

Quando corri così veloce
per giungere da qualche parte
ti perdi la metà del piacere di andarci.

Quando ti preoccupi e corri tutto
il giorno, è come un regalo mai aperto . . .
     gettato via.
La vita non è una corsa.
    Prendila piano.
       Ascolta la musica!

Friday, January 15, 2010

MADRUGADA....a new dawn?

 After midnight and before dawn, comes a time which belongs to no day. It begins beyond the point of deepest darkness and runs to the edge of dawn. The Portuguese have a special name for this time. They call it Madrugada. This is a time when time hangs still. Some say it is the coldest part of any night. Yet it is the time when the change from night to day happens.  This photo here gives an idea of what I am talking about (found on Madrugada is also photographically wonderful since the light is so much cleaner than at sunset.

I first came across this word in the Seventies when I bought an LP (that's short for "long play", an album of songs on the 12-inch vinyl of those days!) by Melanie Safka, a popular singer then who was going through a major change in her singing style at the time.  She had used this word to give a name to her changing style of music. I suppose her greatest achievement is how her "new" style has influenced the way some "modern" singers interpret compositions today (stop a moment and listen to one of her top compositions of the time -

I have since adopted this Portuguese word too into my personal vocabulary because I feel that it depicts nicely the element of change in our life.  We are daily put through so many changes that we either adapt or we flounder. So many people over a certain age tend to live in the past because it gives them a sense of belonging and security, a link to a place, a time, a situation when they might have achieved something. Sometimes these were small things which people barely noticed,  sometimes greater things too that everyone knew about.  But at the same time we learn that life makes us move on. And not look back too much.  Betty Mahalik said that "To live a great life is to discover the life you have right now, instead of trying to invent a whole new life."  Yet today life encourages us to live in the present....remember that ad "Life is Now!"? Yet is that the right philosophy to face up to living in the toughness of this Twentyfirst century?  

Friday, January 8, 2010


Today I am wishing those of you who are still celebrating Christmas the very best of the season.
No I'm not barmy. And yes, I know we are already two weeks AFTER that great day when the Light shone on the world just over 2,000 years ago.  BUT, believe it or not, there are those of us who are still celebrating this event this week.  In fact, in Italy, an old crone (or flying witch) named La Befana delivers gifts to deserving girls and boys 12 days after Christmas on January 6, Epiphany, and is a celebration of the visit by the three wise men to the baby Jesus. La Befana is derived from Epifania, the Italian for Epiphany.

In the distant past the people of Italy thought this Christmas witch was evil. They rang clay bells and made noise to keep her away. Now she is viewed as a gentle spirit that will give gifts to the children of Italy.  According to the Italian legend, La Befana lived on the road the three wise men took on their journey to visit the baby Jesus. The three wise men on camels loaded down with gifts, approached La Befana’s house as she was busy working. They stopped to ask directions to Bethlehem and to ask if she could provide them with food and shelter for the night, and also to see if she might join them on their journey. La Befana was too busy to talk to the wise men. Later she changed her mind and decided she should have gone with the wise men after all.  Gathering up some gifts she herself set off in search of the Christ Child. Like the three wise men she followed the bright star shining in the sky. She was not able to find the stable where the Christ Child lay.

But Befana did not give up and to this day is said to be still looking in every home for the Christ Child. She flies on her broom to each house that is home to a child. La Befana leaves gifts in every house she visits in case one of them happens to be the Christ Child. If a child is particularly naughty she is said to leave a lump of coal in their house.

The Last Word?

Make yourself at home here, come back and read some of the older cappuccino posts too, relax, reflect.... and comment if you wish....there's a comment button at the end of each post!
I hope to see you again in a few days time. Enjoy.