Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What I learnt from a 5 year old over the weekend

Most people who hear about my sojourn at TFI, ask me the first obvious question, " How was it?". Or, they appreciate the courage to have followed my heart to give. In all fairness, I reply that I took more than I ever gave. I still believe that I learnt more about life and grown wiser about what is essential through my children.

It was a weekend of celebration of Eesha's coming. Eesha is the daughter of my best friend Adi's elder brother Eswar. Having literally grown up in their house for a good part of my secondary school, it was a family reunion at a home away from home in Worcester. It was time to sit back and enjoy the pure joy of a family's celebration. It also gave me an opportunity to revist my teaching genes with Rahul, Adi and Eswar's nephew. While I knew Sushma akka through them, my family being related to Rao anna completed a perfect network of a small world. Rahul for me in many ways was a symbol of the connection between my family and Adi's.

More than the emotional connect, Rahul inspired the teacher and kid within me. He made me reconnect with the wisdom I had gathered over the two years at TFI. He reminded me that it was not time to forget those lessons. I am truly grateful to the little one for reminding me the following:

Sing as if nobody is listening and dance as if nobody is watching - Too often as adults we become over conscious of expressing ourselves. Lest, we will be judged and rejected for our shortcomings. We fear people thinking less of our abilities in places where we aren't complete. Which is why we always remain bathroom singers and closer dancers. Rahul's dance reminded me of when I was 5 myself. I was totally fearless and danced with no fear of the audience. Adolescence seems to have brought surfaced an inner critic which stiffed me up. Which kept telling me that my voice wasn't good enough and keeps telling me that my reflection is not smart enough. It keeps looking for acceptance and fears rejection. A drive to fit in, be within the framework of imaginary norms and delusional ideal of perfection.

Your parents have wisdom too. Give it a try - Growing old activates not only the amygdala(part of brain which activates fear of rejection) but also a part of the brain which tends to dismiss anything old not fit for the current times. A classic clash of generations, in which the old fear the degeneration of the values and the young fear being stifled by the orthodoxy of age old conventions. I have been having my phases too. Being on the other side of 25, having had come to face with fear of death has managed to tilt my balance. I respect the wisdom behind the way of life(culture) which has been constructed by millions of people over many generations. A careful hand over of not just the extrinsic symbols, mantras, rituals, dressing and food habits. But a more subtle mantle of culture - language and your only linkage to eons of history. In listening and learning carefully to your parents, you might not just pick up your link with the past but also construct a vision for the future by standing boldly on the shoulders which have carried you. Staying true to your ideals at some level means staying true to your DNA. Rising above our multiple identities starts with recognition of the boundaries of such identities. Any reflection on identity starts with the eternal question," Who am I?" To reflect on such a question without the wisdom of parents who had chosen to give you a chance to answer that question seems regressively foolish! 

Thanks Rahul for the reminders!

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