Bill Clinton is known to note down the details of his classmates, professors, political organizers and other acquaintances in index cards, so that he could revise them in the years to come. The index cards contain important interchanges Clinton had had with the person. His diligent and indefatigable habit of taking notes and revising them, has contributed to his charm and charisma, mixing glamour and compassion (in the words of Bel Mooney).
The Renaissance most famous polymath, Leonardo da Vinci, wrote everyday, about his studies, observations, discoveries, inventions, comments, and plans. For his entire life time, Leonardo produced around 13,000 pages of work. A left-handed, Leonardo uniquely wrote, drew, sketched in mirror script. A systematic and an artistic creator of notebooks and journals, Leonardo used notes to link art, science, and engineering, synthesizing novel things such as the Vitruvian Man.
Taking notes can also be a form of journaling, one of the five recommended happiness-generating actions by Shawn Achor. Writing more positive emotion words enhances relationships (PubMed 16913946). I find that writing nourish and heal our soul, mind and body.
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In my early days living in Cambridge, England, UK, I was given a Bible of New Testament and Psalms. I did not know the giver personally, but the Bible was printed by the Gideons International.
Founded in 1899, the story of the Gideons International began when a boy named John H. Nicholson, promised his dying mother that he would read from the Bible every day for the rest of his life. He kept his word. One night in the autumn of 1898, when staying in the crowded Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, John agreed to share a room with Samuel E. Hill. Both Christian men became friends and developed the idea for the future Gideons International to furnish a Bible for each bedroom of the hotels in the United States. Today, copies of the New Testament and Psalms published by the Gideons International are given to people in workplaces, schools and universities. I am grateful that an idea conceived over a century ago, was so powerful that it has benefited me and many other people.
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There are many breathtakingly beautiful churches in England and Europe. It is indeed a blessing to be able to visit a number of them. Since the Gideon Bible is small and of pocket-size, I could easily carry it while traveling to understand more about Christianity. Sometimes, I just note down interesting inspirations.
Last night, I flipped over my Gideon Bible and re-discovered what I wrote some years ago. The words are very comforting especially if you have been living a compulsively achieving life in the competitive world.
"You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being,
not because anybody say so,
not because you're successful,
not because you make a lot of money,
but because you believe it and for no other reason."
Then, I learn today that the quote is attributed to Dr Wayne Walter Dyer the author of Your Erroneous Zones. Thank you!
There is always be someone better and poorer than us, so stop comparing ourselves to other people. Live in the present moment and focus on using whatever talents and gifts that Allah has given us to serve other people. As long as you are doing better than your previous self, you have fulfilled your responsibility. Surrender your fear, worry, and insecurity to God.
A photograph courtesy of Ren's paternal grandfather.
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The words of the re-discovered note also remind me on the movie Lan / 我们天上见 directed by Jiang Wenli 蒋雯丽.
Since Lan was 3 years old, she was raised by her maternal grandfather Tang. Lan was often mocked by her schoolmates for sharing a surname as Chiang Kai-Shek, a national enemy in China. Lan often felt worthless, and would hide inside the cupboard eating candies.
She discovered hope from the world-champion gymnast, who also shared her surname Jiang. In a hope that she would not be sent to a countryside for tough labor, her grandfather encouraged her to start practicing gymnastics. Her grandfather also lovingly sewed a gymnastic suit and made a practice bar for Lan. However, the teacher thought that Lan was too weak for gymnastic and did not bother to teach her. Other gymnastic students also looked down of her, calling her 'the amateur'. All these experiences worsened her self-confidence until she stopped going to the gymnasium.
However, Lan later proved to be a precious and valuable human being, especially when her grandfather fell ill. She started to care for him, from cooking meals, bathing him, making funny faces to make him laugh, to painting their home with plants. Yes, plants are soothing.
An important lesson we can learn from Lan is not to link our self-worth to our achievement, but to link our self-worth to internal security. Always remember that you are a valuable human being.