Things have been kind of tough for me recently. I was in Cali and doing well, but then suddenly, my six-figure consulting client just quit working with me. I was talking to a girl who was doing an internship in Uganda for six months. We had spoken during this entire time on the phone without actually meeting in person.
She came back to the U.S. and after only about three weeks of knowing me, she ended our growing relationship. Apparently we’re “not a good fit.”
Around the same time, my friend from Tennessee who was in Cali with me decided he wanted to move back. So here I was, lost again, with no work or significant other, 2,000 miles away from friends and family. I decided to just pack my stuff and go back home.
I considered it the lowest point in my life and thought to myself, why am I toiling away so strenuously, yet never seeing any results from all my hard work! I just did not understand what was going on.
Then, as I was pulling out the gym parking lot, angry and frustrated, I noticed something beautiful.
There, right in front of me, was a pretty mourning dove. It flew inside the garage with a twin in his mouth.
Although, I was in a rush to go home and get to bed, I paused for a moment.
Fireworks of nostalgia exploded inside of me.
I thought about how, as a kid back in Bangladesh, I used to raise pigeons. I would watch them for hours on end. I would watch them eat; I would feed them; I would watch them build their nest. Sometimes, I would visit another city and find my homing pigeons hanging out there. When I returned home the next day, it was only to find them back at my house. What an amazing time for a growing kid like me.
I had been sitting there feeling broken and lost, but just the sight of that morning dove building its nest in the middle of a busy place had a big impact on me. The dove was unaffected by the craziness of the rest of the world. And I realized I could be too.
So, today, in retrospect, I am going to give you three other moments like this one—moments where I was greeted with the realization that the world is a beautiful place if you stop, and spend a few moments to look around.
You know, Dale Carnegie said it best: “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
1. I was walking to my house after a long day of work, when I saw something out of the ordinary. In the shrub next to my door, was a giant praying mantis… It was just sitting there. Praying, of course. I stopped for a few moments to stare and see what she might do next as she sat there patiently, perched on a single leaf blade. Waiting got her next prey, her next victim.
When she saw me move a little, she turned her head completely toward me and stared. Have you guys ever seen any other bug who can actually turn its neck like a human to gaze directly into your face? How cool is that! I thought it was so cool.
Even though this happened at least five years ago, I still think about that particular moment—my run-in with a random praying mantis—particularly during moments when the world seems like a harsh place. When things are not going so well for me.
2. A second moment that turned my perspective to the positive took place as I was sifting through videos on my computer. This particular clip featured ducks with their ducklings crossing the road in the middle of the highway. They were moments away from getting hit by the oncoming traffic, when a police officer pulled over and leapt into action, blocking off the entire street while he assisted the ducks in crossing over to the other side.
Only after the ducks had safely crossed over, did he allow traffic to continue. This seemingly heroic act by the police officer was not only generous and loving, but also an act of kindness. After all, in the end, only kindness matters.
3. I embarked on the 3,000 km journey from Los Angeles to Memphis. As you can imagine, got to take in some of the most amazing sights along both sides of the highway. I rolled through the beautiful plains of Texas, the hills and mountains of New Mexico, the grass fields in Arkansas and on through the Mohave Desert in California. Man!
As I was driving across the country by myself, I realized how pretty the world really is.
So, so much kindness…
Such amazing creations of God…
So many beautiful land and water structures all around us. All the animals just co-existing.
There was so much to see.
So, why are we so upset when our boss puts a bunch of files on our desk for us to work on? Why are we working 10+ hours a day and sacrificing time with loved ones just to make a few extra bucks?
Why are we inside watching TV, on the Internet, or playing video games alone when we could be outside, enjoying nature—with the people we love the most?
In the end, what will matter is the deep, meaningful relationships we have built with people, the places on earth we have seen and the memories we have formed with the people who are the dearest.
If you ever visit that place where I’ve been, where you feel you are at the lowest point in your life, I encourage you to remember Dale Carnegie’s quote again:
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
Photo credit: Getty Images