Archive | anecdotes

Competitiveness and detachment

A few thoughts on the competitive spirit and the philosophy of detachment.


In Sri Chinmoy’s book on Emil Zatopek, he mentions an anecdote.

“Zatopek is sincerity incarnate. He has always given the topmost priority to truth in every aspect of his life. At times, his sincerity has been so soulfully moving. On the eve of the 1948 Olympics, his sincerity reached the highest height. “It was my first competition in Olympic Games and I was surprised to come to Olympic stadium and to read most important things about the Games: ‘Not to win but to take part’. What — not to win? Ah, but I wish to win!”

Emil Zatopek: earth’s tearing cry and Heaven’s beaming smile, Agni Press, 1980

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Trick or Treat – no thanks!

When I was a child I used to enjoy the annual ‘trick or treat’. Our friendly neighbours would give us sweats, chocolate and, best of all, money. As a child, I thought this was great!

trick-or-treat

Now, 30 years later, and I’m on the other side of the door – and I have to admit I’m very bad. On trick or treat night, I turn out the lights and pretend to be out! I feel like a modern day scrooge, because I don’t want to answer the door and give away my Kit-Kats or money.

One of the laws of the universe is – “as you give so shall your receive”. Continue Reading →

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Counting at the 24 hour race

counters-night

I have been counting at the Sri Chinmoy 24 hour race since 1999. Usually, I just come for the first 10 or 11 hours, then drive home and do a cycle race on Sunday. It’s a good shift, but I always feel a little bit like a part-timer compared to those who stay from start to finish.

This year, an injury meant I had no cycle race and was free to attend the whole 24 hours.

The first 11 hours went quite quickly and I enjoyed the experience. The main job of a counter is to concentrate on being ready to mark down the times of the runners – as they come around the 400m circuit, every 2-4 minutes.  It might sound easy, but as the hours go by, it becomes a challenge to keep focused and always on the look out for the next time the runner comes round the track. Continue Reading →

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Singing to yourself

florence-park-bedding

I cycle into town through this local Oxford park. It is far from the tourist trail, and is a nice place for locals – popular with dog walkers and people taking a short cut into town.

bedding plants

I was full of the joys of a slightly dull, misty September morning and, as I was cycling slowly through the park, an old man with dog said out loud:

“Shut up”

At first, I thought he was talking to his dog, but then realised his dog wasn’t saying anything, he was talking to me.

I was singing to myself and obviously had strayed into being audible. I hadn’t realised it, which is just slightly disconcerting; I hope it’s not the first signs of madness. He must have very good hearing.

I am trying to learn a few songs of Sri Chinmoy at the moment, and they seem to pop into my head whilst cycling into town.

As irritating habits go, singing aloud is not the worst, but I did admit the old man had a point – I probably would have found it a bit annoying if he was singing to himself.

But, I couldn’t help observe that it’s not very British to actually articulate minor irritations like this. We usually put with worse than someone muttering a half-hearted bit of singing in a public park. Continue Reading →

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The hedgehog in the road

I was walking down the road when I heard a loud, impatient beeping from a car. It was stuck behind another car which had, for some reason, stopped in the middle of the road. The first instinct is to sympathise with the car which was impatiently beeping. But then, on closer inspection, I saw a very small hedgehog scurrying across the road. The hedgehog looked frail and tiny compared to the scale of the motor cars.

The careful driving of the first car had prevented a squashed hedgehog.

hedgehog-ball

Hedgehog escaping to safety

Continue Reading →

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