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MORE STORIES...

Facing our difficult truths

True meaning of the season

Yielding to a higher self

Not seeing the forest or the trees

Coping with a computer crisis

Going under cover in Monaco

My miracle on Larvotto beach

If I can help somebody as I pass along

Taste of village life in Monaco

The Water's Edge: A fishy tale

Why I choose to be involved
"...I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up."
--Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Like Thoreau, I love the simple life. But while he  left a bustling city to move to the woods, I have taken the opposite route. I have given up life in a tiny town on the edge of the Canadian boreal forest for work that takes me to luxury-loving Monaco, the most densely populated nation in the world. Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days at Walden. I'm giving myself at least three years for this experiment.
--Celia Sankar


Yielding to a higher self

It was a feat which should absolutely never be attempted – of that I was certain. Yet, as I stood waiting to cross the street after leaving the Condamine market, I couldn't help but feel a vicarious thrill as I observed a teenage boy on his bicycle come whizzing down the Rampe Major.

The Rampe Major is a series of 76 broad and long steps that lead up to the Prince's Palace, the office and official home of Monaco's incumbent sovereign, and who knows, maybe a few of its ethereal former ones as well. Its steep incline was an irresistible temptation for the young daredevil. His face was a mask of concentration and delight as he stood on his pedals, firmly gripped his handlebars, and zipped down every bump of the ramp.

Once safely at the base, he abruptly spun around his bike, came to halt and sat on his saddle. Panting and grinning from ear to ear, he seemed to bask in the attention, disapproving though it was, of the dozen or so adults waiting at the nearby bus stop.

“Nice! But you must not do that. It's too dangerous,” my mind told me to go tell the chap when I got across the street.

Suddenly, another teen came into sight, actually, into earshot first. Whooping and laughing, he too came shooting down the steps on his bike. Mere meters before he reached the base, however, he seemed to lose control of his handlebars. His front wheel slammed into the wall of the Rampe. The lad catapulted over his bike and landed on a step with a loud thud.

The incident electrified the air. Instantly, everyone around became unified in horror. It felt as if time froze as we gasped collectively.

We were all relieved to see the boy wobble to his feet. He picked up his bicycle and was joined by the other teenager.

As I crossed the road, I decided to go to them to ask whether the boy needed help and if not, to say something comforting to him. But before I got there, the fellow let his bicycle fall to the ground and, with both hands, began clutching his groin as he grimaced.

I got across to their side of the pavement...and continued walking.

I exchanged glances with two old men and a young woman sitting in the bus shelter, knowing our thoughts were the same: “Crazy teen! Could have lost his life!” And I walked on.

I said a prayer that the fellow would be alright. And I continued walking.

Later that night, when, as I am wont to do, I re-examined how I had lived that day, my cheeks burned hotter with disappointment at myself than they had when I had walked away.

I had rationalized that, as a teenager, the boy would have been embarrassed to have me – a female – approach him when he was hurting in that particular part of his anatomy. I had pictured him gruffly dismissing me. My mind had even provided further justification for my action, reminding me I didn't have a cell phone to call an ambulance, even if one were needed, and telling me that the situation didn't appear to warrant one in any case. And so I had walked away.

But the better part of me knew the right thing to do at that moment was to go over to see whether I could be a help or to offer comfort. I had seen someone in a moment of crisis, and yet I thought more of myself, of saving my face.

This has been a recurring struggle with me. As an imperfect human being, I have an imperfect record in situations where life has called on me to be selfless. Far too often, to my mind, I have allowed fears – of rejection, of public or private humiliation, of failure – to hold me back from reaching out to others when I knew the right thing to do was to try to be of help. And when I let myself and others down in this manner, I pay the price of a stung conscience – a painful condition that can last for days.

But, then, there are times when, even though the fears loom large, I can not turn away because I feel compelled to do my duty by others. My work here at Monaco Revue is such a situation. I have put my career, even my life, on the line for this cause. I can not do otherwise because when I look back on my life, it seems to me that all the opportunities with which I have been blessed and all the experience I have gained have worked together to prepare me for this duty.

If a goaded conscience is the penalty for ignoring the better part of ourselves, the opposite, a deep sense of satisfaction about our lives, is the reward for yielding.

I am sure we all know the feeling. It is an almost irrational exhilaration that comes after we've inconvenienced ourselves on behalf of others – when we offered that larger donation than we really could afford; or ran late for an appointment because we stopped to give a lost stranger directions; or ended up faint and panting because we carried a little old lady's bags up the stairs.

It takes courage to yield, and I strive to get better at doing so. It is the course which should always be taken – of that I am certain.


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Celia Sankar

SIMPLY MONACO
by Celia Sankar





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