December 18, 2020
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It was a rather windy day & it seemed that this pleased the trees so very much as they saw here an opportunity to shed all dead & dying leaves. As I watched the swaying of the trees, my thoughts were on the fact that, like the trees, we all need to take advantage of opportunities to give up things that don’t serve us well anymore. If the trees do not shed the useless leaves, new ones won’t grow and the tree would be the worse off for holding on.

It was a long moment as my mind went to all the turmoil of the year 2020 and how it could be bad or good for us depending on how we viewed and reacted to it. The wind could get worse and snap the branches off the trees but that doesn’t stop it from swaying in the wind and making good use of it. Whatever condition we are in, we can always ask ‘How best can I utilize the prevailing circumstance to reach my goals?’.

Then I saw the Road Sweeper. She had done a great job sweeping a large portion of the road between where I was and the point she was crouched, separated by about by 3 Street light poles. But ahead of her was one sea of a mix of yellow and green leaves that littered the kilometer road. I was filled with pity for her – so much work for her to do.

Just then there was another gust of wind sweeping the whole area. In a twinkle of an eye, the whole road was thrown into a whirlpool of leaves and debris and in that instant the portion of the road that the Lady had swept, which a moment ago was sparkling clean and which I was admiring, was covered with a dense collection of leaves and debris! This was a case of ‘motor jam dead body’.

I held my head in my hands as I watched the scene play out. The Lady too was shocked; I watched as she slowly removed her hands from her face where she had put them a moment ago to protect her eyes from the dust raised by the gust of wind. She straightened herself to view the clutter that has messed up the road. All the good work she had done that morning, all the efforts, the care exercised in the cleaning, everything just gone down the drain.

She seemed a bit downcast as she surveyed the area. I was a bit curious how she’d react; would she be angry, sad, immobilized, would she give up on the cleanup of the street and walk away? Or will she try again? I needn’t bother much, her disappointment was gone before it would even imprint in my memory. The speed at which she roused herself, trotted down to the start of the street where I stood watching the drama and started sweeping again, impressed me. Considering my earlier thoughts about all situations being neither good nor bad but dependent on how we make it, I was touched by her strength in dealing with the huge setback. Later in the evening as I passed the street on my way home and saw it all clean, I couldn’t help but remember the gracious woman who braved all odds to sweep it in that morning.

You see, bad things happen and this year some of the worst happened at the same time to very many people. Many lost loved ones, jobs, and sources of livelihoods were destroyed. People dealt with ill health, loss of faith, and many innumerable troubles. Everyone saw plans, beautiful good plans, go to the wind. How did you react or respond? Were/Are you angry, sad, immobilized, give up or are you geared to try again like the lady? Have your setbacks this year and in life generally held you back? Have you found a good use of the opportunities thrown to you by all the troubles of the year?

Even in the worst of adversities, we can still see the good if we wish. One most remarkable thing about this year is that no one will honestly say they couldn’t do something ‘because there was no time!’ There was time to read, write, study, think, keep in touch even if you couldn’t visit, exercise, etc. Technology even made it possible to meet with more people than we probably had done the past 5 years with all the numerous Zoom meetings.

Each time I pass the street, I remember the sweeping lady’s stoic and brave approach to a huge setback. Thing go unexpected from time to time; do you spend your time immobilized, bemoaning lost effort and work, wasted resources or do you kick yourself up and try again?

Never give up, If you or another has done it before, then you can do it. Again. Never give up!