29 April, 2012

Pompom the Nosey Giraffe

 In Chipper Jungle, everything was peaceful and happy until Pompom turned up. Pompom was an extremely tall giraffe, with a long bendy neck like some rubber plant. She got on everyone's nerves because she was just the nosiest and most gossipy animal anyone had ever known. What made it worse was that, thanks to her height and her long, bendy neck, there was no den or nest beyond her reach. There she'd be, always sticking her head in.

She observed everything, and made sure everyone knew what was going on. This annoyed so many animals that they had a meeting and decided to teach her a lesson.

At that time Big Bongo, the most important of all the monkeys, decided to move to an old abandoned den, and he did the place up until it was the cosiest home in the whole jungle. Pompom couldn't help her curiosity, and one night she tiptoed over there and approached the bedroom window. The window was open and she stuck her head inside. She was just on time to see Big Bongo leaving the bedroom. So, Pompom pushed her neck further in so that she could follow him to the next room. It was dark inside and she couldn't see very well, but she followed him down a corridor, and then into another bedroom, and then another...

Until at last Pompom couldn't follow him any more. She had run out of neck. Big Bongo had ran all around his house, and now Pompom's neck was in one enormous tangle.

Then all the other animals, who were in on the trick, came over to the house to let Pompom know what they thought of her irritating nosiness. She felt so embarrassed that she decided from then on that she would use her long neck for more constructive tasks than poking into the lives of others.

Curiosity about other people’s business shows a lack of respect. We all have a right to privacy.

27 April, 2012

My Little World has Broken

Once upon a time there was a spring who lived happily and safely inside a pen. Although he heard many noises coming from outside, he lived believing that outside his world inside the pen, there was nothing good. Even just to think about leaving his pen made him so scared that he was quite content to spend his life compacting and stretching himself again and again inside that tiny space.

However, one day, the ink ran out, and when the pen's owner was busy changing it, there was an accident. The spring was flung through the air and landed in the toilet drain, well out of sight. Terrified, and cursing his bad luck, the spring was flushed through pipe after pipe, each time thinking it might be his end. During the journey, he did not dare open his eyes out of pure fear. Nor did he every stop crying. Swept away by the water, he travelled on and on and on, until he ended up in a river. When the river current lost its force, and the spring could see that things had calmed down a bit, he stopped crying and listened all around him. Hearing birdsong and wind in the trees, he felt encouraged to finally open his eyes. What the spring saw was the pure, crystal waters of the river, the rich green rocks of the riverbed, and all kinds of fish of many colours, whose skin seemed to dance under the sunlight. Now he understood that the world was much greater than the space inside the pen, and that there had always been many things outside, waiting to be enjoyed.

After spending a while playing with the fish, he went over to the riverbank, and then moved on to a field of flowers. There he heard weeping. He followed the sound, which took him to a lovely flower that had been flattened by a rabbit, and could no longer stand up straight. The spring realised that he could help the flower, so he offered to be his support. The flower accepted, and slipped through the middle of the spring. There they lived happily together. And they would always laugh when remembering how the spring used to think that all there was to life was being a sad and fearful spring.

Changes are not a bad thing, it is up to ourselves to open the eyes and make something positive of them

The Cockerel, the Duck, and the Mermaids

 A cockerel and a duck were arguing so much over whether mermaids exist or not, that they decided to settle the matter once and for all, by searching the bottom of the sea.

They dived down, first seeing colourful fish, then medium-sized fish and large fish. Then they got so deep that they were in complete darkness and couldn't see a thing.

This made them terribly scared, so they returned to the surface. The cockerel was terrified and never wanted to return to the depths, but the duck encouraged him to keep trying. To calm the cockerel, this time the duck took a torch. They dived down again to the darkness, and when they started getting scared, they switched the torch on.

When the darkness was lit up they saw that they were totally surrounded by mermaids.
The mermaids told them that they thought the cockerel and the duck didn't like them. The previous time the mermaids had been just about to invite their visitors to a big party, but the cockerel and the duck had quickly left.

The mermaids were very happy to see that they had returned, though.

And thanks to their bravery and perseverance, the cockerel and the duck became great friends with the mermaids.

Fear of the dark is not fear of anything real, and can only prevent you from discovering interesting things

26 April, 2012

The Old Man on the Moon

From an early age, Parker always said that he would be an astronaut. But no matter how much he studied, worked, and took tests, he was never selected. Finally, he grew over the maximum age for taking the selection tests. He would never be able to fulfil his dream.

People thought about all the time and effort Parker had put into trying to be an astronaut, and they felt sorry for him. Despite what he was told about having to abandon his ambition, Parker continued training and studying, as though he was going to sit the tests next month.

He carried this on as he got older, and when he was a very old man he heard that they were doing some very important medical experiments. For those experiments they needed a very old astronaut. Parker, who now walked with a stick, was the only old man in the whole world who was trained to fly in a rocket. So, when no one expected it, Parker found himself flying in space, all in the aid of science. The knowledge gained during those missions helped to cure one of the worst sicknesses for old people, and Parker was celebrated as a hero.
Photos of the astronaut with a walking stick and no teeth spread all over the world, and became a symbol of how you can never train or learn too much. It showed that persistent effort always brings reward, even though that reward may not be in the form we had first expected.

Even if our plans are not fulfilled in the way we expected, remaining prepared and persistent will bring about other things just as good or better.

25 April, 2012

The Cloudsqueezer Machine.....

Wincey Wise was a young lady who worked cleaning the King's advisers’ building. She was a very intelligent and studious girl, and wasn't going to waste the opportunity of being around these wise men. Even so, after a year there, listening to their meetings through the keyhole, she was worried. The wise men never talked about anything new. They just went on about old matters: when he did this and he learned that.
Wincey had been reading all the books the men mentioned, and about all the subjects they discussed. But there came a time when she didn't know what to learn next. She had read everything on what the advisers talked about. So Wincey started reading about all kinds of other things.
Meanwhile, a very long drought had begun - something which had never happened in that land. The wise men proposed solutions, but as it was something that had never happened before, none of their ideas worked. Wincey, who had read all about climate, and seeing that she knew a great deal more than them, dared to interrupt their deliberations to suggest some solutions. The advisers ignored her; they said she was just a girl, that they were the experts, and not to bother them again.

Wincey felt so saddened and offended that she gave up her job there, went home, and spent several days holed up in her attic. When she left she was pushing a trolley, and she pushed it straight to the palace. She showed the King her invention: a strange contraption with lots of buttons and a huge tuba sticking out the top.

"This is the Cloudsqueezer," said Wincey, "it will put an end to the drought."
"Hmm," said the King, looking doubtful, "does it really work?"
Wincey bent over the machine, whispered a few words into it, and the words were transformed into strange deep noises, which came out of the tuba, like a speaker. Soon, a light shower began falling outside. It stopped as suddenly as it had started.

"Did you cast a spell?" said the King, "Are you some kind of witch?"

"You what?" answered Wincey, "it's just a bit of science."
The King seemed to approve, and he called for his advisers to come and see the new invention. Wincey gave another demonstration. On seeing the rain fall, the advisers launched into a great scholarly debate. Was the effect based on atmospheric turbulence? Was it a product of lunar reflectivity? And so many other equally ignorant theories that Wincey couldn't help but chuckle to herself.

While they had been theorising, the rain outside just got harder and harder. It ended up raining heavier than anyone had ever seen. The advisers kept talking, and it rained all the harder. So much so, that the King had to tell Wincey to disconnect the machine. She turned off the Cloudsqueezer, and the rain stopped. In front of astonished faces, she explained.

"The Cloudsqueezer is just a translator. It translates and amplifies words so that the clouds can understand them."

"So, how come it starts to rain?" asked the King.
"Ahh, that's because the clouds have a good sense of humour. Every time they hear a bit of foolishness they cry with laughter!"

Everyone looked accusingly at the King's advisers, and the wise men could do nothing but blush like tomatoes, in shame. That experience turned out of great use to the King. Not only did the drought come to an end, but, from that day on, they always kept the Cloudsqueezer switched on. To avoid being shamed by the clouds tears of laughter, the people of that land soon learned to study what they could, and to keep quiet on themes about which they were ignorant.

We should never give up learning. Nor should we ever think we know everything.

20 April, 2012

The most valuable Pebble

 There was once and incredibly rich, beautiful, and wise Princess. Tired of false suitors who were only interested in her money, she announced that she would only marry whoever managed to present her with the most valuable, tender, and sincere gift of all.

The palace filled up with flowers and gifts of every kind, letters describing undying love, and love-struck poems. Among all these wonderful gifts, she found a pebble, a simple dirty pebble. Intrigued, she demanded to see whoever it was who had offered this gift. Despite her curiosity, she pretended to be highly offended by the gift when the young man was brought before her. He explained it to her like this,
"Dear Princess, this pebble represents the most valuable thing one can give - it is my heart. It is also sincere, because it is not yet yours, and it is as hard as a stone. Only when it fills with love will it soften and be more tender than any other."

The young man quietly left, leaving the Princess surprised and captivated. She fell so in love that she took the little pebble with her wherever she went, and for months she regaled the young man with gifts and attention. But his heart remained as hard as the stone in her hands. Losing hope, she ended up throwing the pebble into a fire. In the heat of the fire, the sand crumbled from around it, and from out of that rough stone a beautiful golden figure emerged. With this, the Princess understood that she herself would have to be like the fire, and go about separating what is useless from what is truly important.

During the following months she set about changing the kingdom, and devoted her life, her wisdom, and her riches to separating what is truly valuable from what is unimportant. She gave up the luxury, the jewels, the excess; and it meant that everyone in the kingdom now had food to eat and books to read. So many people came away from their interaction with the Princess enchanted by her character and her charisma. Her mere presence transmitted such human warmth that they started to call her 'The Princess of Fire'.
And as with the pebble, the fire of her presence melted the hardness of the young man's heart. And just as he had promised, he became so tender and considerate that he made the Princess happy till the end of her days.

True love is the most powerful way to change the world from the inside, starting with ourselves.

18 April, 2012

Modern Nomads

One day, Mister Arnold was teaching a lesson, and things were going as normally as ever. He was explaining the story of mankind to his pupils. He told them that, in the beginning, men were nomads; that they never stayed in the same place for very long. Instead, they would travel about, here and there, in search of food, wherever it was to be found. And when the food ran out, they would move off somewhere else.

He taught them about the invention of farming and keeping animals. This was an important discovery, because by learning to cultivate the land, and care for animals, mankind would always have food readily available. It also meant that people could remain living in one place, and this made it easier to set about tasks that would take a long while to complete, like building towns, cities, and all that was in them. All the children were listening, spellbound by this story, until Lucy jumped up:

"And if that was so important, and improved everything so much, why are we nomads all over again, Mister Arnold?"

Mister Arnold didn't know what to say. Lucy was a very intelligent girl. He knew that she lived with her parents in a house, so she must know that her family were not nomads; so what did she mean?

"We have all become nomads again," continued Lucy, “The other day, outside the city, they were cutting the forest down. A while ago a fisherman told me how they fish. It's the same with everyone: when there's no more forest left the foresters go elsewhere, and when the fish run out the fishermen move on. That's what the nomads did, isn't it?"

The teacher nodded, thoughtfully. Really, Lucy was right. Mankind had turned into nomads. Instead of looking after the land in a way that we could be sure it would keep supplying our needs, we kept exploiting it until the land was bare and barren. And then off we would go to the next place! The class spent the rest of the afternoon talking about what they could do to demonstrate how to be more civilised...

The next day everyone attended class wearing a green t-shirt, with a message that said "I am not a nomad!"

And, from then on, they set about showing that indeed they were not. Every time they knew they needed something, they made sure that they would get it using care and restraint. If they needed wood or paper, they would ensure that they got the recycled kind. They ordered their fish from fish farms, making sure that the fish they received were not too young and too small. They only used animals that were well cared for, and brought up on farms...

And so, from their little town, those children managed to give up being nomads again, just as prehistoric men had done, so many thousands of years ago.

It is up to us to live in a sustainable world.

The Respectful Prince and the Dwarves

Once upon a time, the King's two Princes were playing in a forest, and - meeting one at a time -, they came across four dwarves who asked them to be more careful.

The first dwarf had a headache and he asked them not to shout. The second dwarf was painting a landscape, and he asked the children to move away because they were blocking out the light. The third dwarf was doing a giant jigsaw puzzle in the middle of the road, and he asked the children not to tread on it. The fourth dwarf was watching a butterfly and he asked them not to frighten it away.

The Prince who respected others did as the dwarves asked, but the disrespectful Prince ignored the dwarves´ pleas, and kept bothering them. In the evening, both boys had become separated and lost. They needed to get back to the palace quickly.

Each of them separately came across the four dwarves again, and asked for their help. They refused to help the disrespectful Prince, but with the respectful Prince they did whatever they could to help, and took him along some secret tracks which led right to the palace.

The other Prince arrived much later, and was punished for it. He now understood that it's much better to respect everyone if you want to have friends.

Be kind and respectful to everyone, as you never know when will you need help from others

16 April, 2012

The Monster and The Brave Little Tortoise

Once upon a time, there was a tortoise on a ship, and the ship sank. Some time later the tortoise made it to a desert land surrounded by water on all sides except for one. The landward side led up to a big, steep, craggy mountain. To avoid starving to death, the tortoise decided to climb to the top of the mountain, hoping that he would be able to cross to the other side.

When he got to the snow-covered summit he was freezing cold, and then a blizzard started. He just managed to make out a small pathway leading down the other side of the mountain. But the path was guarded by a big monster that wouldn't stop shouting.

"Uuh uuh uuh!"

Such a sight and sound almost killed the tortoise with fright, and all he wanted to do was hide his head inside his shell. But, looking around him, he saw that many other animals were lying frozen to death, and with looks of horror on their faces. So the tortoise didn't go into his shell.

He summoned up all his courage to move down the path towards the monster. The closer the tortoise got, the more the monster changed its shape. Then, when he was almost upon it, the tortoise realised that what he had thought was a monster, was only a great pile of rocks, which formed a shape just like a monster. As for the "Uuh uuh uuh", the tortoise realised this was just the sound of the wind blowing through a small cave.

The tortoise carried on, and eventually descended into a beautiful valley, filled with woods, and plenty of food. The tortoise lived very happily here, and became known everywhere as the Brave Little Tortoise.

The only way to successfully deal with a life and death situation is to face up to the fear it brings.

Pragyan the Mountain Climber

Pragyan the mountain climber was famous for his attempts to climb the big snowy mountain. He had tried it at least thirty times, but had always failed. He began the ascent at a good pace, focusing on the snowy summit, imagining the marvellous view and the sense of freedom up there. But as he went on, and his strength dwindled, his gaze would lower, and more often would he look at his worn out boots. Finally, when the clouds had gathered round him, and he understood that he wouldn't be able to enjoy the view from the summit that day, he would sit down to rest, relieved to be able to start the descent back down to the village, though slightly worried about all the jokes he would have to endure.

On one of these occasions he went up the mountain accompanied by old Peeper, the town optician, who bore witness to the failure. It was Peeper who most encouraged Pragyan to try again, and he presented him with a pair of special sunglasses.

"If it starts clouding over, put these glasses on, or if your feet start hurting put them on too. These are special glasses; they'll help you.”

Pragyan accepted the gift without giving it much mind, but when his feet started hurting again he remembered what Peeper had said, and he put on the glasses. The pain was pretty bad, but with those new sunglasses he could still manage to see the snow-covered summit; so on he continued.

Just as nearly always seemed to happen, misfortune returned in the form of cloud cover. But this time it was so light that he could still see the summit through the clouds. And so Pragyan kept climbing, leaving the clouds behind, forgetting his pain, and finally arriving at the summit. It was certainly worth it. His feeling of triumph was incomparable; almost as magnificent as that wonderful view, resplendent in its silence, the mountain below surrounded by a dense sea of clouds. Pragyan didn't remember the clouds being as thick as that, so he looked more closely at the sunglasses, and understood everything.

Peeper had engraved a light image on the lenses, in the form of the snow-covered summit. It was made in such a way that you could only see it if you looked upwards. Peeper had understood that whenever Pragyan lost sight of his objective, he would similarly lose sight of his dream, and his will to continue would wane.

Pragyan realised that the only obstacle to reaching the summit had been his own discouragement. When he could no longer see the top of the mountain, the problems had set in. He thanked Peeper for using that little trick to help him see that his aims were not impossible, and that they were still there, where they had always been.

If we lose sight of our main aims we can often abandon things when the first difficulties arise.

11 April, 2012

Drums in Space

Nitu Kaur was a happy, artistic girl, a girl with one big ambition - to play the drums in a band. But one big obstacle lay in her way. To be good enough to play in a band Nitu had to practice a lot, but she lived next-door to a lot of old people - many of them sick - in a care home. She knew that the sound of beating drums and crashing cymbals would really get on their nerves.

Nitu was a very good, respectful, girl. She always tried to find a way of practicing her drums without bothering other people. So, she had tried playing in the strangest places; a basement, a kitchen, an attic, and even in a shower. But it was no good; there was always someone it would annoy. However, determined to practice as much as she could, Nitu spent most of her time playing on books and boxes, and looking for new places to practice.

One day, while watching a science documentary on TV, she heard that sound cannot travel in space, because there’s no air. At that moment, Nitu decided to become a sort of musical astronaut.

With the help of a lot of time, a lot of books, and a lot of work, Nitu built a space bubble. This was a big glass ball connected to a machine which sucked out all the air inside. All that would be left inside was a drum kit and a chair. Nitu got into the space suit she had made, entered the bubble, turned on the machine, and...
She played those drums like a wild child!

It wasn't long before Nitu- 'The Musical Astronaut' - had become very famous. So many people came to see her play in her space bubble that she had to mount a pair of speakers so that everyone could listen to her play. Shortly afterwards she came out of the bubble and started giving concerts. Her fame spread so much that the government proposed that she form part of a unique space journey. Finally, Nitu was a real musical astronaut, and had gone far beyond her first ambition of playing drums in a band.

Years later, when they asked her how she had achieved all this, she thought for a moment, and said,
"If those old people next-door hadn't mattered so much to me, I wouldn't have gone to such lengths to find a solution, and none of this would have ever happened."

There is always a good solution. If we persist in looking for it, we can end up achieving much more than we had envisioned.

The Origin of Happiness

There was once a boy who hardly had any toys or money.

Nevertheless, he was a very happy little boy. He said that what made him happy was doing things for others, and that doing so gave him a nice feeling inside.
However, no one really believed him; they thought he was loopy.

He spent all day helping others, dispensing charity to the poorest, and looking after abandoned animals. Very seldom did he ever do anything for himself.
One day, he met a famous doctor who thought the boy's case was so peculiar that he decided to investigate him. So, with a complex system of cameras and tubes, the doctor managed to record what was happening inside the boy. What he discovered was surprising.

Each time the boy did something good, a thousand tiny angels gathered around the boy's heart and started tickling it.
That explained the boy's happiness, but the doctor continued studying until he discovered that we all have our own thousand angels inside us. Unfortunately, he found that, as we do so few good things, the angels spend most of their time wandering about, bored.

And so it was that the secret to happiness was discovered. Thanks to that little boy we now know exactly what we have to do to feel our hearts being tickled.

Happiness and contentment come from good deeds.

09 April, 2012

The Monster in the Wardrobe

There was once a boy who was afraid of the dark. He thought that when it was dark his bedroom filled up with monsters. But there came a time when he was too old to be allowed to keep sleeping with the light on.

That first night he was paralysed with fear, his mind full of monsters. So much so, that he went over to his wardrobe to get a torch. But when he opened the wardrobe door he came face to face with a monster, and he let out the loudest scream in the world.

The monster took a step backwards, grabbed its multicoloured hair with its tentacles and... started crying! The monster cried for so long that the boy's shock and fear subsided. He calmed the monster as much as he could, and started talking to him, asking him why he was crying, and what he was doing there.

The monster told him he lived in the wardrobe, but almost never went out, because he was afraid of the boy. When the boy asked him why, the monster told him the boy's face seemed to him the most horrible thing he'd ever seen with eyes, ears and a nose. The boy felt exactly the same way about the monster, who had an enormous head full of mouths and hair.

The two of them talked so much that they became quite friendly, and they realised that both of them had been afraid of the same thing: the unknown. To lose their fear all they had to do was get to know each other. Together they travelled the world, seeing lions, tigers, crocodiles, dragons... It was the first time either of them had seen such creatures, but they made the effort to get to know them, and ended up dispelling their fear, and becoming friends.

And, although his parents weren't too happy, because they thought he was too old to still believe in monsters, the truth of it was that all kinds of creatures visited the boy's bedroom each night. And, instead of fearing them he had learned to get to know them and befriend them.

Most fear is without foundation, and plays on what is unknown or different.

08 April, 2012

Winning and Lossing

Tarun hated losing at anything. His parents, teachers, and many others, said he didn't know how to lose, but the truth of it was that he couldn't stand losing, not even at marbles. It was so great, and he felt so good, when he won, that he never wanted to give up that feeling; not for anything in the world. On top of that, losing made him feel precisely the opposite. It seemed to Tarun that losing was the worst thing that could happen to anyone. If there was a game Tarun wasn't brilliant at, he simply wouldn't play it. But if he was going to win he would take part, even if the game lasted only a minute. And the kind of things he was really good at, like table football, you could hardly stop him playing.

A new kid started at Tarun's school, and his name was Anurag. Anurag was a cracking table football player, and it didn't take Tarun and Anurag long before they challenged each other to a game. Tarun prepared for the match with great seriousness. He was concentrated and intense. Anurag, on the other hand, seemed not to be taking the thing at all seriously. He walked about the whole time, smiling and cracking jokes about all sorts of things. But on the football table, Anurag was a real phenomenon. He scored goals again and again, laughing and joking all the time. However, Anurag was paying so little attention to the match that Tarun managed to change the scoreboard while his opponent was looking elsewhere, and so Tarun managed to win by cheating. Tarun made a big thing of his win, but it seemed not to matter to Anurag.

- "It's been fun. We should play again some other time", said Anurag.

On that day, people at school talked about little else. Tarun's great victory was on everyone's lips. But, that night, Tarun didn't feel so happy. He had won, but even with that there was no trace of the joyful feeling he usually enjoyed so much. What's more, Anurag hadn't felt bad about losing. He almost seemed to enjoy it. And, to top it all, the next day Tarun saw Anurag playing basketball. He was absolutely hopeless; he lost time after time. But that happy smile never left his face.

For several days Tarun watched the new guy. He was great at some things, terrible at others - to an embarrassing degree - but he enjoyed everything equally. Tarun began learning that to enjoy a game you didn't have to have a scoreboard; nor did you have to have winning and losing. What you had to do was enjoy the game for its own sake, trying to do well, and enjoying each aspect of it.

Finally, Tarun found himself playing hide and seek, telling a joke while playing table football, and regretting that a particularly fun game he was playing was soon about to end. And without really knowing why, the older kids started commenting amongst themselves,

- "Good fun playing with Tarun, that kid sure isn't a sore loser."

To know how to win or lose gracefully is important to actually enjoy what you’re actually doing, and not to give so much importance to the result.

07 April, 2012

Talking Pets

Peggy Pigtails was a good girl, and she was quite quiet and reserved. Not many words passed her lips, partly due to shyness, and partly because she sometimes felt she had nothing interesting to say.

But that all changed when Peggy and her family moved houses.
On arriving at the new place, she discovered a huge attic full of old junk. In one pile she found a big chest containing all kinds of strange things. Under them all, she found something special. It was an old book with a great heavy, thick cover, with gold writing on it. But what made it truly special was how it shone in the darkness of that attic, and in the most magical, fantastical way. What's more, the book was actually floating in the air. Peggy could find nothing holding it up.

She took the book down to her room and hid it there until nighttime, putting her puppy on guard duty over it. That night, when she was sure no one would disturb her, she sat with her doggy and started reading the book. It was a storybook, but Peggy could hardly get any of it read. She had only just started when her dog started speaking to her:

"What an interesting book you've found! It seems to have some lovely stories!" Peggy couldn't believe it, but the puppy continued talking, telling her all sorts of things, and asking a thousand questions. After some time, Peggy regained her composure and asked,
"So how come you're talking?"
"I don't know," answered the dog. "Instead of just thinking things, now I'm saying them too... it hasn't changed much for me; I guess it was the book that did it, though."

Peggy decided to investigate the matter, and she thought she would show the book to some other animals. One after another, the animals all started talking, and, before long, Peggy was chatting - in the most friendly manner - with a dog, three cats, two doves, a parrot, and five lizards. All the animals spoke as though they'd been doing so all their lives, and all of them had some pretty interesting tales to tell!

"Sure, babe!" Lemmy the lizard told her, "we all lead pretty incredible lives!"

Peggy Pigtails spent the next several days nattering with her new friends, and really enjoyed it. One day, though, unaware as to why, the book disappeared; and with it went the animals' voices. Peggy looked everywhere, but couldn't find that book.
Within a few days, she was missing the chats with her new animal friends so much that she could hardly think of anything else.
Then she remembered what Lemmy the lizard said to her, and she realised that she hardly spoke at all to her classmates or other children, and they probably had incredible lives too!

So, from that day, little by little, Peggy started talking more to her schoolmates, trying to find out about their lives. In the end, without realising it, she came to have more friends than anyone else in the whole school. And never again was she short of someone to have a good old natter with.

When we open ourselves to communicating with others, we enjoy getting to know them, because we all have things of value to share.

The clown who was very careless....

There was once a clown named Lemon. He was a lot of fun, but also very careless. Whenever he did anything, he almost always ended up tearing his jacket, getting a hole in his sock, or ripping the knee of his trousers. Everyone said he should take more care, but Lemon found that really boring. So, one day, he had the happy idea of buying himself a sewing machine. This machine was so fantastic that it sewed everything up within a moment. It seemed like Lemon wouldn't have to worry about his things anymore.

Soon, the most important day in Lemon's life arrived. It was the day when everyone in town prepared a party for him, in celebration of Lemon's many years of service in making the citizens chuckle. On that day he wouldn't have to wear his colourful clown suit. That day he would be dressed like anyone else; very elegantly in his suit, and everyone commenting on his smart appearance.

However, the night before, he had a look in his closet, and there wasn't a single suit in good condition. They were all ripped and torn, with dozens of stitching marks. Lemon couldn't possibly go to the party dressed in those. Well, Lemon was sharp and quick-witted, and he solved this problem by attending the gala celebration in his usual clown suit. That definitely amused the audience, but Lemon wasn't as keen on it. He had dreamed of being, just for one day in the year, the hero of the show, and not just the clown.

Very early the next day, Lemon replaced all those damaged old suits, and since then, he has looked after his clothes with great care. He realised that using short-term remedies ends up being no remedy at all.

Trying to continually cover up faults, ends up with there being no way to conceal them when it is most important.

06 April, 2012

Princess of Fire

There was once and incredibly rich, beautiful, and wise Princess. Tired of false suitors who were only interested in her money, she announced that she would only marry whoever managed to present her with the most valuable, tender, and sincere gift of all.

The palace filled up with flowers and gifts of every kind, letters describing undying love, and love-struck poems. Among all these wonderful gifts, she found a pebble, a simple dirty pebble. Intrigued, she demanded to see whoever it was who had offered this gift. Despite her curiosity, she pretended to be highly offended by the gift when the young man was brought before her. He explained it to her like this,
"Dear Princess, this pebble represents the most valuable thing one can give - it is my heart. It is also sincere, because it is not yet yours, and it is as hard as a stone. Only when it fills with love will it soften and be more tender than any other."

The young man quietly left, leaving the Princess surprised and captivated. She fell so in love that she took the little pebble with her wherever she went, and for months she regaled the young man with gifts and attention. But his heart remained as hard as the stone in her hands. Losing hope, she ended up throwing the pebble into a fire. In the heat of the fire, the sand crumbled from around it, and from out of that rough stone a beautiful golden figure emerged. With this, the Princess understood that she herself would have to be like the fire, and go about separating what is useless from what is truly important.

During the following months she set about changing the kingdom, and devoted her life, her wisdom, and her riches to separating what is truly valuable from what is unimportant. She gave up the luxury, the jewels, the excess; and it meant that everyone in the kingdom now had food to eat and books to read. So many people came away from their interaction with the Princess enchanted by her character and her charisma. Her mere presence transmitted such human warmth that they started to call her 'The Princess of Fire'.

And as with the pebble, the fire of her presence melted the hardness of the young man's heart. And just as he had promised, he became so tender and considerate that he made the Princess happy till the end of her days.

True love is the most powerful way to change the world from the inside, starting with ourselves.

August Heat

August Heat was a little city mouse who lived peacefully in a big house. The house had all the comforts any mouse could ever dream of; there was always warm water to bathe in, hot food, plenty of clothes and whatever else.

A rather unusual kind of mouse lived with August. His name was Percy Veering, and despite all those comforts, every day he would give something up. He could quite easily wash in cold water as if it were warm, or chew leeks as though they were lumps of cheese. The worst was when he tried to convince August that acting in this way would be for his own good.

"Come on, man, you'll make yourself stronger. You're becoming a real softy!", Percy would say to him.

And poor August would turn away, snuggle into his blanket, and read a good book, wondering how there could be such stupid people around.

Misfortune would have it that, one night, so much snow fell on the city that our two friends' little mouse-house was completely snowed in and cut off from the outside world. They tried to get out, but the cold was intense, and they didn't think they could dig a tunnel through so much snow. They decided to wait it out.

The days went by, and still the snow remained; now there was no food left. Percy endured it quite well, but August - deprived of his hot baths, his food, and his warm shelter, was on the verge of losing control. He was a cultured kind of a mouse, who had studied widely; he knew that he wouldn't be able to stand more than three days without food. This was the same amount of time they had worked out they would need to dig a tunnel through the snow. They now had no choice but to get digging.
But as soon as he touched that cold snow, August turned away. He couldn't do it. Not with something so terribly cold, not even as hungry as he was, not even knowing that he would soon die!

Percy, though, managed it quite well, and started digging, all the time encouraging his friend to do the same. But August was paralysed; he just could not stand such terrible conditions. He couldn't even think straight. Then he looked at Percy, 'that idiot', and understood that that mouse was a lot wiser than he looked. Unlike himself, Percy had trained himself to do things because he really wanted to do them, and not just because they were the most appealing things to do at any given moment.
He could order his legs to dig regardless of whether they were purple with cold - something which was impossible for August, no matter how much he wanted to do it. And with those thoughts, and a tear of helplessness, he lay down upon the mountain of feathers that was his bed, ready to let himself die.

When he opened his eyes, he thought he was in heaven; the face of an angel was smiling at him. But then with great joy he realised that it was just a nurse. She told him they had been treating him for days, ever since a very brave mouse had arrived at the hospital, his four legs frozen, and given instructions on where to find August. Then the brave mouse had passed out.

When August ran to thank Percy for all his help, he found him standing up, having greatly recovered. Percy had lost several fingers, and an ear, but he looked cheerful enough. August felt very guilty since he hadn't lost a thing.

Percy told him, "Don't worry, if it hadn't been for those fingers and that ear, I wouldn't be here either. What better use could they have had?!"

Of course, they continued to be great friends, but August no longer thought of Percy as an idiot. By Percy's side he set about regaining control over his own pampered and demanding little body, each day giving up one of those unnecessary comforts of modern mouse life.

Small daily renunciations are what develop strength and will power.

The Safe

Once upon a time, a greedy, rich man hired a great mathematician. The rich man wanted the mathematician to find the best way for him to make the greatest profit in everything he did. The rich man was building a huge safe, and his greatest dream was to fill it with gold and jewels.

The mathematician was shut away for months in his study, before finally believing he had found the solution. But he soon found there were some errors in his calculations, and he started all over again.

One night he appeared at the rich man's house, with a big smile on his face: "I found it!" he said, "My calculations are perfect." The rich man was going on a long journey the next day, and didn't have time to listen. He promised the mathematician he would pay him double his wages if he would take charge of the business while he was away, and put the new formulas into practice. Excited by his new discovery, the mathematician was delighted to accept.

When the rich man returned, months later, he found that all of his possessions had gone. Furious, he went to ask for an explanation from the mathematician. The mathematician calmly told him what he had done. He had given everything away to people. The rich man couldn't believe it, but the mathematician explained it further.

"For months I analysed how a rich man could gain the maximum benefit, but what I could do was always limited. There's a limit to how much one man can do by himself. Then I understood the key was that many people could help us to achieve the aim. So the conclusion was that helping others was the best way to get more and more people to benefit us."

Disappointed and furious, the greedy man stormed off, desperate at having lost everything to the hare-brained schemes of a madman. However, while he was walking away disconsolately, several neighbours ran over, worried about him. All of them had been helped when the mathematician shared out the rich man's fortune. They felt so grateful to him that they offered him the hospitality of their houses, and anything such a special man might need. The neighbours even argued over who would get to help him.

Over the next few days, he saw the full results of what the mathematician had calculated. Wherever he went he was received with great honour, and everyone was willing to help him in whatever way they could. He realised that his not having anything had given him much, much more.

In this way, he managed to quickly set up flourishing businesses, but this time he followed the brilliant mathematician's advice. No longer did he keep his riches in a safe, or anything like it. Instead, he shared out his fortune among a hundred friends, whose hearts he had converted into the safest, most grateful and fruitful of safes.

Everything we give to others will, sooner or later, return to us, whether or not it be in a form we expected.

The Drop of Water

There was once a jar of fresh, clean water. Every drop of water in the jar felt immensely proud of being so clear and pure. Day after day they would congratulate each other on how clean and beautiful they were.

That was, until one day when one of the drops got bored with his ultra-clean existence. He wanted to try what it was like being a dirty drop. The other drops tried to talk him out of it, but he stuck to his guns.

Hardly realising, when the drop came back all dirty he turned all the other drops in the jar into dirty drops too.
They tried to get clean again, but couldn't. They tried everything to shake off the dirtiness. Finally, much later, someone dipped the jar in a fountain, and only when a lot of clean water entered the jar, did the drops regain their old transparency and purity. Now they all know that if they all want to be nice clean drops, then each and every one of them has to stay clean, even if they find it difficult. Putting right the mistake of one single drop entails a lot of work for everyone else.

The same happens with us and our friends. If we want to live in a jar of clean water, each one of us will have to be a clean drop. None of us should try being the dirty drop who spoils everything.

How about you? What are you?

A clean drop?

It’s much harder to undo an unwise act than it is to act wisely right from the start.

04 April, 2012

The Island Of Inventions

The first time Luca heard talk of the Island Of Inventions, he was still very young, but the wonders he heard about sounded so incredible to him that they were forever engraved in his memory. Ever since he was a little boy, he never stopped searching for clues to investigate. Clues which might lead him to that place of wonder. He read hundreds of adventure books, histories, volumes of physics and chemistry; even music.

Taking a little from here, a little from there, he arrived at quite a clear idea of what the Island Of Inventions was really like. It was a secret place, where all the great wise men of the world would meet to learn and invent together. Access to the island was totally restricted. To be able to join that select club, you had to have created some great invention for humanity. Only then could you receive the unique and special invitation - which came with instructions on how to get to the island.
To be in with a chance, Luca spent the years of his youth studying and inventing. Every new idea he got, he made it into an invention, and if there were ever anything he didn't understand, he would seek out someone who could help him. Soon he met other young people, brilliant inventors too, and he told them of the secrets and marvels of the Island Of Inventions. These fellow young inventors would likewise dream of being sent 'the letter', which is how the invitation was referred to.

As time passed, the disappointment of not being sent the letter gave rise to even greater collaboration and mutual help between the young inventors. Their interesting individual inventions were put together, creating some incredible contraptions. They met in Luca's house, which ended up looking like a huge warehouse for machines and spare parts. Their inventions became known throughout the world, and managed to improve every aspect of life.

But even after all that, no invitation came.

They did not lose heart. They continued learning and inventing every day, trying to come up with more and better ideas. Fresh young talent was added to their group, as more and more inventors dreamed of getting to the island. One day, a long time later, Luca, already very old, was speaking with a brilliant young man who had written to him to try to join the group. Luca told the young man the great secret of the Island Of Inventions, and of how he was sure that some day they would receive an invitation. Surprised, the young inventor interrupted Luca:

"What? You mean this isn't really the Island of Inventions? Isn't the letter you sent me the real invitation?"

And, as old as he was, Luca looked around him, and realised that his dream had become true in his very own house. He realised that no island could exist which would be better than where he was now. No place of invention would be better than what he and his friends had created. Luca felt happy to know that he had always been on the island, and that his life of invention and study had been a truly happy one.

We must give ourselves great goals in life, because with effort and perseverance we can achieve even more than we had hoped to.

Cheerful Chandan..

Cheerful Chandan was a very special boy. When he was still tiny, and in his mother's tummy, she had had an accident, which meant that Chandan couldn't walk. But that had never been a problem for him; he had always been happy to be able to grow and become an older boy. They had started calling him Cheerful Chandan because his joyful and enthusiastic nature was so contagious. He really brightened everything up for those around him.

There wasn't a builder, a postman, or a taxi driver who wasn't pleased to see Chandan. "Cheer up, Mr. Postman, that way you'll deliver more letters today than any other!" he would say, or "That was great, Mr. Taxi Driver, you park that thing better than anyone. You should enter a competition!" He also had great ideas and solutions for everything; and he shared them so generously that, just about every day in that town, someone did a great job of something, or invented something new, thanks to Chandan's ideas.

One day, though, he came up against a really tough nut to crack. A young boy came to town on his holidays. He was known as Waterworks, and he was a real crybaby. No matter what Chandan said to him, Waterworks would always find some reason to be sad:
"I don't have many sweets... my parents didn't buy me that toy... I can't watch television... I have to go to school, and I don't like it..." Everything seemed so bad to him. But Cheerful Chandan wasn't going to let a grump like that drag him down, and he kept spending more time with Waterworks, constantly trying to cheer him up, just as he did with everyone.

Then, one day, when the two of them were together in the street, someone dropped a pie from a window above, and it landed right on Chandan's head. He got such a fright that he couldn't even move his lips. The two boys were speechless, and although Waterworks was just about to cry, during those moments of silence, he missed Chandan’s happy words so much that he finally said, "Wow, Chandan, that's a nice clown disguise you just put on. And so quickly too!"

And, on saying those words, Waterworks felt so good, that he finally understood why Chandan was always so happy and cheerful. He realised that he was now so used to his friend's enthusiasm that he couldn't help but see the good and the funny side of everything.

Cheerfulness and enthusiasm are the best means of achieving things. They also have the advantage of being contagious and powerful.