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poem

Someone sent me a beautiful poem this morning by a young poet. I hear her cry for the nation. For me, the cry I hear, starts with families.

Can we have families that are not broken, where children do not have to be afraid in their own homes, or in schools and other public places.

Whats the cry you hear?

*”The Hill We Climb.” *

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?

The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.

We braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.

Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.

We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.

And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.

We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.

We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.

That even as we hurt, we hoped.

That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.

Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.

It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption.

We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.

But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.

Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the golden hills of the West.

We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.

We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.

We will rise from the sun-baked South.

We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons as we free it.

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/19/books/amanda-gorman-inauguration-hill-we-climb.amp.html

Transcending

Escher got it right.
Men step down and yet rise up,
the hand is drawn by the hand it draws,
and a woman is poised
on her very own shoulders.

Escher

Without you and me this universe is simple,
run with the regularity of a prison.
Galaxies spin along stipulated arcs,
stars collapse at the specified hour,
crows u-turn south and monkeys rut on schedule.
But we, whom the cosmos shaped for a billion years
to fit this place, we know it failed.
For we can reshape,
reach an arm through the bars
and, Escher-like, pull ourselves out.
And while whales feeding on mackerel
are confined forever in the sea,
we climb the waves,
look down from clouds.

~From Look Down From Clouds (Marvin Levine, 1997)

I first chanced upon this poem on Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness”

https://qz.com/1712239/a-childrens-book-about-the-global-economy-and-the-future-of-work/

A children’s book about the global economy and the future of work — Quartz

Quartz’s Dan Kopf and Bárbara Abbês, Alphabet for the Next Global Economy

A is for Automation,
That great destroyer of jobs,
In the olden days,
It brought out the mobs
It can also be great,
Something people can dig,
The agricultural revolution for example,
Farming was a really hard gig
The effect is complicated,
It creates and it ends,
Is it going to hurt you?
Hard to know, it depends

This is what I call creativity. Combining two simple ideas and creating a fabulous and essential product. References to American companies like Uber which may confuse some.

Whats better, the words rhyme and comes as an audiobook. Three simple ideas into another outstanding product.

Im definitely trying to buy some as gifts for Christmas. Useful not only for children but for most of us trying to learn the vocabulary of the new normal.

A will be Agile or Adapt to the changing trends. With change, we certainly see no end.

If you were to recreate your own alphabet set, what’s A for you?

https://nancybond.wordpress.com/2009/05/09/my-mother-kept-a-garden/amp/

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@Gardens by the Bay.

My Mother kept a garden,
a garden of the heart,

She planted all the good things
that gave my life it’s start.

She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,

Fostering and nurturing
the seeds of self-esteem…

And when the winds and rain came,
she protected me enough-

But not too much because she knew
I’d need to stand up strong and tough.

Her constant good example
always taught me right from wrong-

Markers for my pathway
that will last a lifetime long.

I am my Mother’s garden.

I am her legacy-
And I hope today she feels the love
reflected back from me.

– Author Unknown

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Photo taken by me at PS Cafe Dempsey Singapore. I love how a few medicine bottles are upcycled with ferns cut from roadside trees into objects of beauty, illustrating how beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

ʎʇʇǝɹԀ Ugly by Abdullah Shoaib

I’m very ugly

So don’t try to convince me that

I am a very beautiful person

Because at the end of the day

I hate myself in every single way

And I’m not going to lie to myself by saying

There is beauty inside of me that matters

So rest assured I will remind myself

That I am a worthless, terrible person

And nothing you say will make me believe

I still deserve love

Because no matter what

I am not good enough to be loved

And I am in no position to believe that

Beauty does exist within me

Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think

Am I as ugly as people say?

(Now read bottom up)

Note: Someone sent me this. I dont know who Abdullah Shoaib is. Its interesting that reading left to right, top down or bottom up, changes the meaning.

Western cultures read from left to right. Chinese culture read from right to left for instance (sun rises from the east to the west).

If you shed tears when you miss the sun, you will also miss the stars- Tagore

如果你因怀念太阳而流眼泪,你也会错过夜晚的星星

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Gradensbythebay# #christmaslightup2017#

Translated by Coleman Barks
http://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poetry/poems/guest-house

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

image
Photo taken by Himself.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Jeladuddin Rumi

from Rumi: Selected Poems, trans Coleman Barks with John Moynce, A. J. Arberry, Reynold Nicholson (Penguin Books, 2004)

http://wap.5156edu.com/xhy/

Chinese is a very rich language filled with idiomatic sayings.

歇后语xiehouyu are two part sayings. The first part is a riddle, puzzle or reference to story or history and the second part, sometimes not expressed, is the meaning.

I shall list a few all associated with kitchen utensils.

热锅里的蚂蚁
rè guō shàng de mǎ yǐ     –
形容心里焦急,坐立不安

anxious, like ants on a hot wok

打翻的五味瓶
Dǎ fān de wǔwèi píng –
心里有 酸 甜 苦 辣 咸 的滋味

很难受 不舒服的感觉
Knock over the 5 flavours bottle – mixed feelings, mostly unpleasant
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大理石压咸菜缸
Dàlǐshí yā xiáncài gāng –
大才小用
Use marble vessel to ferment preserved vegetable – waste of talent or wrong use of talent

炒菜的勺子
Chǎocài de sháozi –
尝尽了酸甜苦辣
The spoon used for cooking has tasted all flavours – and all life’s experiences, the happy, sad, bitter and painful.

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Photo taken of wall mural in Tiong Bahru depicting a traditional Chinese past-time where men would bring their caged birds to socialise and bird singing contest.

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,

Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
Not that, amassing flowers,
Youth sighed “Which rose make ours,
Which lily leave and then as best recall?”
Not that, admiring stars,
It yearned “Nor Jove, nor Mars;
Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!”

For thence,—a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks,—
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i’ the scale.

Let us not always say,
“Spite of this flesh to-day
I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!”
As the bird wings and sings,
Let us cry “All good things
Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul!”

Now, who shall arbitrate?
Ten men love what I hate,
Shun what I follow, slight what I receive;
Ten, who in ears and eyes
Match me: we all surmise,
They this thing, and I that: whom shall my soul believe?

I first heard of this poem thirty years ago as it was part of the school motto of my father’s school. Then my brothers and now my nephew. The best is yet to be was then an aspiration for the younger me. Life can be better.

Revisiting the poem, I realise that the poem is about the paradox of life. The failures of our life breeds success. The limitations of our flesh gives appreciation of the gifts of life. Let us not be too anxious about disagreements and unrealized goals as the ultimate truth is out of our reach anyway. But let’s keep our focus upwards as we draw near the curtain of our lives.

It is disease that makes health pleasant, hunger that makes fullness good, and weariness that makes rest sweet. – Heraclitus