Beauty and the Beast – a tale that inspires

Beauty and the Beast – a tale that inspires

There are tales within movies to be written, tales of the feelings they stir.

A seed planted.
An idea whispered.
An ideal put forth.

Each movie weaves a tale of it’s own through the work of scriptwriters, and honed again by the rest of the movie’s crew. There are films you watch through your life where they hold in you and either reinforce your beliefs, giving you firmer ground to stand on, or place ideas and principles in you.

One such movie for me was School Ties, a little known film starring Brandon Fraser and Matt Damon. A film about friendship. And how racism can tear apart bonds of friendship that were in fact the threads of acquaintance.

Now, that the fairly longish preamble is done, on to the rest of the piece. It was a fairly long one but I promise to get to the point. Beauty and the Beast. A film I watched in my childhood at the age of 12 but never held a place in my heart like The Little Mermaid.

This 2017 effort was a new experience for me and I find it easier relating to its characters now that I’ve aged a little, even, grown a little. The whimsical fancy that brought such joy through its music now takes on a new tinge through its characters and motivations.

Growing up as a bookworm, I’ve related strongly to Belle and the idea of being given an entire library as a gift would have been one of immeasurable value though there are analogies that may conjure up a suitable image. The image would be different for each of you reading this though – for it has to be something you deeply treasure personally. And each of us is different in what we value.

I value ideas. And I love films with heroic themes because they inspire more ideas. More ideals even. That strength of purpose is strongest when tempered with wisdom and honed with gentleness. Once you pair that with a clear vision, a single-minded goal to achieve – you get something quite unstoppable.

I’ve long been drawn to motivational themes in stories. They resonate in me long after the closing theme fades away. Sometimes, that tiny spark is all that’s needed to drive action.

Sitting here in front of my computer typing in these thoughts, I feel alive. Where words are tumbling out in droves and even being written in my head during the movie. This. This is what drives me – the composing of words wrapped together in a semblance of a tale, a poem, a thought.

Who would read this? My friends perhaps. Maybe even some acquaintances or connections. People who have passed by me in life or in cyberspace. Either way, I hope a sentence here or even just a word sparks something in you to do something positive. Something that makes a difference in your life or another’s.

I’m not sure if this would end up being a series of thoughts written out after each movie I watch but I know I write best from the heart. And that’s always at it’s most open at the end of a film.

For every film, no matter how poorly it may have been set up, has a story to tell.

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Today is the first day of the rest of my life. 

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. 

Cliched, yes. But cliches aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves. They communicate concepts quickly thanks to their level of ubiquitousness (Thank you spellchecker for that word…). For today, you, dear reader, know that I speak of another new beginning. Another chapter of my life.

One door closes another opens as they say.  In my case, I believe that windows too shall open far and wide – for me to take stock and drive myself towards where my heart is.

In times of great change, there is a special opportunity to look inward. To look within yourself and see with greater clarity then you ever have before. That can be a curse or a blessing – just like most things in life.

When something happens, you have an opportunity to sit back and wait for something good to come your way or to take life with an iron grip and take charge.

I choose to take charge.

Anger – is it always right?

Anger Controlls Him

Image via Wikipedia

Blood pumps vigorously through throbbing veins, your muscles tense and your fists clench. You are primed and ready for action.

Roaring with rage you launch yourself at your washing machine, which has consistently failed to work for the past 5 days in a row despite your best efforts to fix it.

Even the time honoured method of kicking a mechanical appliance when it’s down, failed. Shaking your head in disgust, you swing a well-aimed kick at the machine, and then jump around holding your leg and cursing the workmanship of the machine’s solid steel outer body.

Anger can be an extremely destructive force. Old wives tales are often spun about how thunder and lightning is God’s way of showing anger, and how hurricanes and typhoons are Neptune’s way of striking back at man for the unceasing desecration of the sea. While these are tales are fictional, it serves to illustrate how anger is related to destruction.

Religion itself has a great deal to say about anger, generally, abhorring it. A search on Wikipedia finds three major world religions with words to say on the subject.

In Islam, anger is seen as a sign of weakness where Muhammad said, “The strong is not one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger”.

In Buddhism, anger is defined as, “being unable to bear the object, or the intention to cause harm to the object.”

In Christianity, the Bible warns, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger”, or do not let feelings of anger last so long as to become sinful, but rather deal with them before they reach that point.

But does the emotion of anger really deserve all the negative press it gets? Surely we’re supposed to be given some leeway for directing anger at injustice, abuse of human and animal rights, and racism? There was a story in the Bible where it told that Jesus got angry at the merchants in the temple and pretty much in a fit of rage, sent tables and chairs flying all over (which kinda indicates that He probably had brute strength to add to His already substantial list of positive traits).

Injustice itself is probably one of events most likely to trigger a bout of anger expression. A sense of unfairness topped by the usual cockiness of the person on the right end of the injustice scale, and garnished with a serving of being on the losing end, all add to the unhappy concoction of feelings of anger.

But here’s an area where anger can be a positive reaction. It primes our bodies for action and gives us additional motivation to complete the task in the most efficient manner possible. It galvanises us into taking quick action and lends us strength to stand firm on our principles and beliefs.

Maybe it’s what we get angry about that is the important thing. I read a quote somewhere that has impacted my life and me;

“A man is about as big as the things that makes him angry”.

Keeping those words close to my heart and mind has helped to control my feelings. After all, you can’t be very big if you let a small thing drive you into a fit of rage can you?

The next time you get angry, take a moment and consider what you’re angry about and whether it is worth it to even feel that way.

Kick a stone in anger and you’ll hurt your foot ~ Korean proverb.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ Buddha

This article was first published on RainTiger.com in 2007 and was part of a monthly series of motivational writings that were loosely titled, ‘Forward ever’.  I’m forever grateful for that opportunity to have my work in print, even if it was ‘only’ in the online space. I remember the original motivation of this article was to have a deep look at some mistaken beliefs we often have of ourselves. I hope I succeeded though at the end of the day, that’s for you, the reader, to judge for yourself.

Physical fragility vs the human spirit

This article was my second that was published on RainTiger.com in December 2006 and was part of a monthly series of motivational writings that were loosely titled, ‘Forward ever’. I’m forever grateful for that opportunity to have my work in print, even if it was ‘only’ in the online space. I remember the original motivation of this article was to have a deep look at some mistaken beliefs we often have of ourselves. I hope I succeeded though at the end of the day, that’s for you, the reader, to judge for yourself.

Accidents happen. Every day. Every place. Every second. Tragedies happen. In life, the whole world would find agreement in one thing. That we all will someday pass from this earth and breathe our last breath. Sometimes these accidents happen in such a way that leaves the soul intact but the body crippled and devoid of function, sometimes, even of limb.

Faced with this bleak scenario of human life, we somehow manage to hear tales of great courage and of the strength of the human will when faced with seemingly impossible odds. These success stories become living breathing miracles for the rest of us to hear, see and be encouraged by no matter what our circumstances are.

Some of us may feel somewhat distant from these great stories of supernatural will and perseverance, feeling, “My situation’s different from theirs. There’s no way I’d be able to match up to those high standards that they have achieved.”

But if you take another look at those stories and probe a little deeper, you find that many, if not all, have also gone through times of painful doubt and crushing defeat. Oftentimes, they too have spent some time wallowing in their own self pity and embracing their fears like a bedside pillow, keeping them close to their heart.

These people are the same as you, me, and that scruffy neighbor that lives across your street. But there is one thing that’s different about them that raises them above their situation and their circumstances.

They made a firm, concrete, and life changing choice not to accept their circumstances. They believed in a greater possibility that there is a life out there for them to live. They believed not only in themselves, but they also believed in a higher goal and a purpose.

I heard of a man by the name of Jim MacLaren who, when he was a young star athlete, suffered a crushing accident with a 40 ton bus and was even initially diagnosed as ‘dead on arrival’. He somehow survived but lost his left leg below the knee in the accident.

During his rehabilitation, he made a life-changing choice to resume his previous life as an athlete, this time to compete as a triathlete. Over the next few years, he would go on to break records in some of the toughest races in the world and he would routinely finish ahead of 80% of the able-bodied athletes.

Tragedy was to visit him again, when during a race, he collided with a van and was flung onto a signpost, breaking his neck at the C5 vertebrae. Doctors told him he would never be able to move any part below the neck. Devastated, his life took a downward plunge and he even turned to cocaine to relieve the pain, eventually ending up addicted to it. 8 months later, he found himself speaking to voices that weren’t there on the same street that he used to regularly compete in races and he made another life changing decision to break free from his situation.

After more than 1,000 rigorous physiotherapy sessions, he has managed to reclaim some of his motor functions back and could even walk (with difficulty) if it was necessary to do so. A tremendous miracle of life – in spite of the medical experts diagnosing that he would never walk again.

What’s even more amazing is that as a result of the accident, the Challenged Athletes Foundation that was formed to help Jim, donated a bicycle to a young one-legged Ghanaian boy named Emmanuel Yeboah who would use it to change the perception of the whole nation towards disabled people.

This young Ghanaian rode the bicycle across his land of Ghana despite only having one leg. To put the significance of this event in perspective, not too long ago, disabled children were either murdered at birth or lived their lives begging on the streets of Ghana.

Their stories are amazing examples of the strength of the human spirit and what one can do when he makes a firm choice to choose life over his circumstance.

(c) 2006. Johnathan Sia

We often kid ourselves

This article was my first that was published on RainTiger.com in November 2006 and was part of a monthly series of motivational writings that were loosely titled, ‘Forward ever’.  I’m forever grateful for that opportunity to have my work in print, even if it was ‘only’ in the online space. I remember the original motivation of this article was to have a deep look at some mistaken beliefs we often have of ourselves. I hope I succeeded though at the end of the day, that’s for you, the reader, to judge for yourself.

Many centuries ago, men thought the earth was flat. This belief kept many within the ‘safe’ boundaries of their own homeland, never discovering the riches that existed elsewhere until, well, you all know the story of Columbus.

You might think that in this informed technology age, where information is available almost at one’s fingertips, that people would be free of limiting beliefs. But many stubbornly persist from generation to generation, binding people in a limiting chain of suppression.

You might have heard of some people saying “Oh good, he’s jealous! It shows that he cares for you and loves you”. Some think feeling jealous about someone means that they love that someone. Let’s have a peek into the dictionary for awhile.

The word ‘Jealous’ is defined in Encarta® as a feeling bitter/unhappy because of another’s advantages/possessions or also as feeling suspicious about a rival’s influence, especially regarding a loved one.

Looking at these dictionary definitions, do you see anything that relates to jealousy meaning loving someone else? The Bible has arguably one of the most perfect definitions of love ever found in the written word. The first few lines say, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast.” Jealousy is a destructive, possessive emotion that does nothing to protect a loved one. Rather, it protects a person’s own self-interests.

Another false belief that permeated society is the belief that children should be seen and not heard. Countless families have stunted the growth of their children just because of this belief. What was the basis for this belief in the first place?

Can anyone really explain why children should be seen and not heard? Was this said just to help keep the kids quiet? Was this said because kids are naturally direct in their speech and their parents did not want any possible embarrassing situation to arise from their child’s speech? If so, that’s irresponsible parenting and only serves to influence the children to be rebellious and argumentative. What other outlet could there be for children seeking to express themselves emotionally and finding that they are being suppressed.

Along the same lines, children too have often nurtured a feeling that they know more than their parents. While this may be true on a superficial level, many forget that our parents have many years of experience under their belts. Many treat their parent’s experience too lightly, writing them off as the sayings of ‘old men’ and ‘old women’ with nothing to contribute.

All these beliefs are too commonly found in today’s age of information when people are supposed to be more informed about the world around them. You can make a difference by choosing not to believe them. Believing in something can be a very powerful force that can change lives and transform nations – we can now fly to many destinations around the world and drive to many places by car, because someone somewhere believed in something and made it happen.

(C) 2006 Johnathan Sia