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The Distant Drum

** Written by production manager Jane Mellema**

India stretches the imagination. So many types of people. Often, I try to put myself in others’ shoes.

Living in a city in India, I am confronted daily with people who live at different levels of poverty, and I frequently imagine what it would be like to grow up in these various circumstances. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had.

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a few days in a small city in the foothills of the Himalayas. Surrounded by such splendor, my imagination took a different turn. I envied people growing up in such a peaceful and beautiful place. The sight and aroma of towering coniferous trees, layer upon layer of hills stretching out before me, mountain vistas, fresh air with a slight chill, and peace. My heart was drawn and nourished by such beauty. What would it be like to grow up in such a place as this? A small community and a sense of home. 

As soon as my thinking turned this direction, a variety of potential challenges that could accompany life in the mountains quickly came to mind. Every life involves struggle and hardship. Even things that appear perfect have their hidden faults. An Indian idiom popped into my mind,

Dur ka Dhol hamesha suhavena hota hai:

The distant drum always sounds sweet.

 “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” is an English parallel.

This is a phenomenon throughout the world. A person’s difficulties and struggles in life make them long for the life of another. This was reflected in a request I once received from a few young Indian ladies. “What kind of cream do you use? What makes your skin so fair?” Whitening cream is advertised in India. Pale skin is seen as desirable. I reminded them that they are beautiful the way they are. I described how young ladies in the United States often strive to bake their skin to a darker color. All this effort for a temporary goal of something they think is beautiful.

What gets into our minds and tells us that something else is better? If we were to obtain this elusive “thing”, would we suddenly be transformed into a contented person? Do circumstances need to dictate contentment in life?  What if contentment is something that can be learned and taught to others?

What is true beauty to you? How do you teach your children, nieces, and nephews about true beauty? 

Photo credit: Jane Mellema

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