A million daily miracles

There are plenty of life’s tiny delights for all of us. Delights that are tiny miracles in their own way. What more can one ask if one has all this, and the faculties in working order to partake of them?

Instead of the once-off apparent miracle of the type that conerns one person only (while God is in sleep-mode as regards the others who are suffering? – Christopher Hitchens) and that leads to canonization of individuals into saints by religion, what the world needs is the million daily miracles that help to smooth the cogs of living for hundreds of millions across the world.

Caught in the web of material comfort and a hyper-consumerist culture which we call progress, we cannot fail to notice how such progress has strained the ties of human relationships, starting with the family. It has bred in parallel individualism and selfishness, and there is no better illustration of this than seeing people who are supposed to be interacting with each other in an intimate encounter having their eyes glued to their smart phone screens.

As it happens now, one has to literally shout at someone to leave the screen and TALK! Especially children, to whom WE have given the smart phone or tablet or iPad in the first place!

By the same token, we have turned away from nature: the rush and stress of peak hour traffic keeps us on edge as travel time to and from work gets prolonged, and we have little inclination to take a look outside the car or bus window as we worry about reaching in time or focus on meeting the deadlines awaiting us. We fail to appreciate the little things that make up the wonders, or miracles, of our life.

As one little girl wrote when the teacher asked her pupils to write down the seven wonders of the world, which she was taking more time than the others to do – they listed the classical ones such as the great pyramids etc –, to be able to see, to smell, to hear, to taste and to touch: that’s what the wonders for her were. And that jolted the teacher, as this truth from childhood innocence sank in…

And that we, modern, busy and harried adults have forgotten. But if we close our eyes and consider for a brief few moments what would be our state if we lost any of these senses, then only we will realise and appreciate how we are truly gifted with such wonderful and exquisite faculties, along with those of mobility, of speech, and of thought and imagination. Effortlessly they allow us to enjoy the world: we just open our eyes and we see – similarly for the other faculties. Depending on how we use them, judiciously and intelligently, or wrongly, we have the choice of making our lives beautiful or ugly.

We are more familiar with loss of hearing, speech and vision, and have to be thankful for the genuine miracles of scientific understanding and developments that have allowed sufferers from these conditions to cope with the difficulties they lead to, and there’s more to come.

In one disease of the eye called ‘retinitis pigmentosa’ which affects the retina, for example, scientists with the help of computer technology have been partially successful, on an experimental basis, in restoring some degree of vision by sending the visual inputs directly to the area of the brain concerned with vision, bypassing the retina.

This a revolutionary first step that will no doubt come to greater fruition in due course, even if it takes some years, and provide relief to those afflicted by this so far untreatable disease.

We are less familiar with anosmia: loss of smell (which also interferes with appetite), and loss of the sense of touch which happens when nerves are damaged either by injury or by disease, leprosy for example. One extreme form of loss of touch is the congenital absence of pain, a condition with results in the person suffering from frequent and multiple injuries to the skin from a young age. These can get infected, and if near a joint can lead to infection in it which can be severe and serious. In one such case that was reported the treating doctors were contemplating an amputation for the patient who was in his teens.

Can we disagree with the little girl’s take on wonders aka true miracles?

A friend of mine, in response to last week’s article on the subject, sent me a list of scientific miracles of the 21st century accompanied by the appropriate photographs. Included were the world’s biggest wind farm off the coast of Denmark, with 80 turbines and standing 110 metres tall, capable of producing 160MW of electricity. And the world’s largest ship that can carry an oil rig offshore, an oil refinery and a whole military radar.

But we don’t even have to go that far to experience the miracles of daily life. In our own body there are biorhythms or internal clocks that tell us when to sleep and when to wake up, mechanisms the regulate with precision our normal body temperature, our heartbeat and breathing: these are the most obvious parameters, but there are billions of them requiring balancing and fine-tuning from moment to moment at the tiniest level, in the cells and down to the molecular level. All these, of which we are blissfully unaware, keep us ticking, and we take them for granted.

Miracles? They abound, for our enjoyment if we care to notice. Dewdrops on the grass at dawn, raindrops on rose petals, the saffron globe of the sun emerging from dark clouds on the horizon, the setting sun’s reflection on the sea, the caress of the cool wind on the cheeks as one walks on a hill or a mountain and the vast panorama extending in front of the eyes from this vantage point, the clear azure sky with not a cloud in sight…The tiny sprout from the planted seed that morphs into a sapling then a fruit-bearing plant, the bee that daintily feeds on the nectar, the bird that alights on the window sill and the flock of them that gather on the tree at dusk and sing away into the night…

But we can also be creators of the little miracles that distinguish a society worth belonging to and living in, and that seem to have been in retreat as we sped into the 21st century at breakneck speed. And they need to be reinforced: good morning and good evening, thank you and good bye to those who serve us at various points, with a little smile that does not cost anything but says more than words can express, little acts of kindness and politeness towards one and all – these and more such little caring gestures can transform our living, why even our lives, more than money ever can.

As someone said, ‘I have never been a millionaire, but I have enjoyed a great meal, a crackling fire, a glorious sunset, a walk with a friend, a hug from a child, a cup of soup, a kiss behind the ear. There are plenty of life’s tiny delights for all of us’.

Delights that are tiny miracles in their own way. What more can one ask if one has all this, and the faculties in working order to partake of them?

R N Gopee

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