Roses & thorns

— Mr. Sumit Paul

“some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I'm thankful that thorns have roses." When I read Alphonse Karr's beautiful words, I got an altogether new perspective to look at things differently. We grumble, grudge and gripe that life has no purpose. We forget that the very existence has a definite purpose.

Every life has a profound meaning. Forget the eschatological beliefs of aftertlife. Nothing of that sort exists in any other world beyond the human life on this earth. We therefore must strive to make our existence and presence on this earth with an extremely positive outlook, ignoring anything we perceive as negative or useless. " Some murmur when their sky is clear and wholly bright to view, if one small speck of darkness appears in their great heaven of blue." We are all so accustomed to treading on a smooth surface, that even a slight jerk perturbs us. We start cursing and abusing and conveniently forget that so far we walked on a path that had no potholes.

Ernest Hemingway was in love with a nurse, who nursed him back. She was eight years senior to him. Unfortunately, their love didn't culminate in marriage. But that nurse was later to be immortalised as Catherine in one of the greatest novels of all time, "Farewell to the arms." Someone asked him, "Didn't you rue the parting." " Yes, I did, but then I thought of sublimating the pangs of parting in the pages of a novel rather than the pegs of whiskey," was his classic answer. He found a meaning in severance.


Life depends upon how we look at things. The way attitude determines the altitude, outlook also decides the outcome. Things happen because we unknowingly want them to happen. Nietzsche was in a mental asylum. His beloved younger sister came to see him. She came to meet her celebrated brother and collect his jottings that later took the form of the very famous book, " My sister and I." She was crying inconsolably because she never saw her brother in such a sordid condition. The great man had a semblance of sense. He told her not to cry and said, " It's only in the chaos of a bedlam, does a man like your brother can think lucidly. Isn't the whole world a big mental asylum. So, don't cry. Go home." Even in that squalid state, "the deranged genius" (French existentialist Albert Camus' 'compliment' to Nietzsche) could find meaning to keep his morale alive and afloat.

Things are never as bad as they seem. We keep resenting and ruing and never bother to find the import of a perceived mishap or predicament. Sri Aurobindo Ghosh cleared all the hurdles in his ICS exams. There was just one test left: Judging the equestrian skills of the candidate. Alas, he failed and had to come back to India. He eventually became a great spiritual master. Had he been selected, he would never have been able to flower his innate wisdom. We must take every apparent curse as a boon and count our blessings, which are galore and eclipse our trials and tribulations. What we presume to be a mishap is actually a prelude to an achievement.

Feats and accomplishments in life often come disguised. We have to peel off the veneer to get to the boon. Blessings are always quizzical and enigmatic. Only when we break the shell, we find the kernel. But for that, one needs sagacity, nous and also ample patience. I wind this up with an English poet's beautiful couplet, " Two men look out through the same bars / One sees the mud, other the stars."

About the Author
Sumit Paul is a Poona-based advanced research student of Semitic languages and civilizations. He contributes to world's premier publications and portals in several languages, viz, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, French, Spanish, Dutch, Hindi, English among others.

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