Random musings

Very often we try to fit ourselves into moulds to get accepted in a situation but then we are competing against 100 others who are doing the same thing and are better at it than us. Instead why not be ourselves. Do what we are good at and what we like doing. Then automatically our best efforts will flow and we will naturally be the best with lesser competition. Not to forget that we would be happier in life. Yet we often forget this and keep trying to compete. 

We were sent on earth as unique personalities. If each of us will work on our uniqueness, together we could make a rich, more interesting society. Yet we want to compete and be like someone else. In the process society loses what could have been our unique contribution. 

I see people doing this to themselves and their children and it’s really sad. I wish people would learn to honor their gifts and those of others and not lose them in the dry rat race. 

I know this thought has been expressed many times now. But today somehow I’m thinking more deeply about this 😛

Escape 2

As I climbed the stairs, I became acutely aware of the fact that this was a date, not a casual networking meet where the guy flirts and I try to keep it business. I had agreed for this one to be a date and that made me feel conscious. Did I look ok, was my hairdo looking awkward. I was split into one cold and practical person who thought this was just a casual meeting with a musician who she really wanted to connect with and another person who was looking forward to a date and wanted to leave this person with good memories about her.

As he walked towards me to greet me I froze because I had to recondition myself to be warm and friendly and not cold and distant. I was expecting a quick friendly hug but he wrapped his arms around me and held me close for a second and I was pleasantly surprised by the hug and by myself. Usually hugs make me want to push away the person and build a wall that he must not cross. But this time I didn’t feel repelled at all. It didn’t feel like I must just tolerate and get past the hug for the sake of politeness.

And so that night I genuinely smiled and felt amazement at this warm and positive person who seemed to be wanting a casual emotionless relationship for fear of emotional investment. Yet his actions showed warmth, respect and a desire to have something more meaningful with someone than just physical intimacy. There was no false flattery, no manipulation or deceit nor direct comments on physical desires that I had seen so far. He seemed to have little experience with the ways of someone who wants to have a casual fling with a girl.

And so I genuinely smiled and felt positive and didn’t hold myself back. We spoke about music, he shared his story of how he learnt to play the keyboard in his childhood and when he started to feel good about it, how he learnt to play with two hands in few days’ time because he got a second chance to play in a college band after getting rejected once, his relation with his parents, things that are important to him, how he respected my decision to leave my job and take up music full time, how he thought I could improve my singing. We spoke a lot about music and we wouldn’t stop talking. There were hardly any pauses. What I didn’t realise then was I was getting quietly impressed by his determined nature, his proficiency in music, his sense of affection towards his friends and sense of responsibility towards his parents. At that point of time all I noticed was some feelings of amusement at how he kept affirming that we had spent so long talking without realising the time so it meant that we had a good date and how he was surprised by my choice of location for the date/meeting. It seemed to have overwhelmed him and his fear somehow amused me because I considered myself immune to being affected by feelings.

As we took a walk in the neighbourhood of the restaurant he asked me if he could hold my hand and I laughed. Who asks. My ex would sort of just make our hands subtly bump into each other and suddenly hold it tight. And I would get pleasantly surprised. That warm memory of holding hands was somehow very special to me and since we broke up I would pull away when someone would try to hold my hand. But my ex was no longer special and this guy had asked so politely. You don’t discourage when someone treats a girl with so much respect. I was used to people who spoke of respecting the girls in their lives yet their actions showed a sense of entitlement and dominance. The irony made me laugh though I shyly said yes.

“Why did you laugh when I asked?” He enquired as we walked side by side holding hands.
“Because you asked. I’m not used to it.” I replied simply. It was hard to go into complex explanation. It didn’t seem apt for the sweet moment we were having.

“Don’t worry. I don’t have that kind of feelings for you. I just find you physically attractive.” Despite myself, despite things being already clear between us, my heart sank. So he didn’t find me attractive as a person. As a person I could be anyone it didn’t matter to him as long as there was a possibility of physical intimacy.

“You smell good. I guess I am being upfront but this is how I am. I find you physically attractive. There was a moment there when I wanted to kiss you.”
I smiled.
“Can I? Can I kiss you?” he asked.
“No.” I said. The thought of kissing felt too much suddenly.
He didn’t protest. No expression of disappointment. No subtle attempts to guilt me into saying yes. Usually I would’ve given in to guilt and distanced myself later. That’s me. I play my part obediently in a show run by the opposite person without asking questions. And one day it gets too much and I close the book without warning. This is what I was used to. It allowed me to remain a cold unattached observer able to walk out the moment I chose to do so. But this guy was treating me with respect while simultaneously telling me that I as a person meant nothing. Why did I not protest? Why did I not speak my mind? Because I was confused about what was hurting and what was endearing. And I was afraid I would say something that would drive him away. After getting abandoned once I had carefully made sure that I would never be the one getting abandoned, I would be the bird that flies away when she chose to, not the other way round. Never the other way round.

I booked a cab and literally wanted to run away from there before I said anything to ruin the beautiful night. As I was taking leave he hugged me and yet again it felt so warm and safe. He held on a second longer and kissed my forehead. I looked at him surprised and he looked away with a slight smile that he couldn’t hide. And yet again that exposed his pure affectionate side that I found so endearing.

As the cab drove away I closed my eyes and held on to that hug and kiss for as long as I could. Because I knew from experience that it would not last forever. Did he know he had shown affection and respect to a person who had only experienced lust, deceit, force and violation? There was only one other person who had done this before and he too had changed when the break up left him with feeling only hatred and occasional longing for physical intimacy alone. Did he realise that he had stirred emotions in a heart that since then only smirked and felt disgust when men expressed their emotions for her. It was hard for him to understand. But it was getting difficult for her to dismiss him and forget. That made him dangerous. Beautiful though that night was she knew that he had opened some doors she had locked away forever and she didn’t have the freedom to just fly away when the time comes. So she had to escape now before it was too late.

The Distorted Learning Curve

Today I noticed a lady at my workplace looking really tired and worn out. As general courtesy I asked her if she was all right.

“I am fine,” she replied, “just that I didn’t get to sleep much last night. I had to work on my daughter’s school project; these kids have so much to do. And I had completely forgotten that she had to submit it today..”

“You mean you made your daughter’s project report?” I asked surprised.

“Yes, these children are given a lot of project work these days; I don’t know why they give the little children such difficult work. It is such a headache for parents!” she said disapprovingly.

“But isn’t the project meant for the children. Don’t you think you should just let her work on it?” I tried to reason with her.

“But she is so little. How will she know what to do?” She asked perplexed, as if that was an answer that was understood.

“No what I meant was, let her use her head, let her try something on her own. You can help her but let her do the work. Let her work on the project at her level of understanding. It doesn’t have to be the best, but she will learn something isn’t it?” I tried again.

“Yeah, I know got what you are saying, but all other children make such wonderful projects then the teacher will give her low grades.”

“You mean their parents make wonderful projects.” I smiled and said. She smiled back. “That’s how it is dear; there is so much competition at such a young age!”

I just smiled and said nothing. I realized there was no point reasoning. The whole thing was wrong at so many levels.

What was the child learning by watching her mother complete her project for her and taking credit for it in school? The project in my opinion was well meant. It would have pushed the child to think; maybe she would have spent some time struggling over it. May be she would have come up with useless ideas or pestered her mother with lots of questions. May be this particular project would not have turned out fancy but she would certainly have used her brain a lot. Don’t these parents know that a child’s brain is still developing a lot till the age of 7. If she uses the creative part of her brain at this point, she will certainly be very creative when she grows up.

But here, all she really learnt was how to copy the best stuff off the internet and stick them together on paper, take credit and be appreciated. In fact she was not even doing that. She was just watching her mother do all the work. How would this child grow up to feel capable? She would always grope for someone to help her out when faced with a tough problem in life. She would never be able to think that she should sit and brainstorm for possible solutions, because since her childhood she has been taught that she should ask someone else to do her work when she can’t do it on her own.

But is the mother wrong. I think she is, but let us try to understand the situation from her point of view. She didn’t want her child to take a bad project report to school. Why not? May be because she didn’t want her child to feel left out when all others were submitting fancy projects. Valid. But wouldn’t the child learn from what she saw and come back and think of better ideas for her next project. Isn’t that the process of learning? Isn’t it more important that you help your child back on her feet when she falls instead of not letting her walk on her own for fear that she may fall? But the mother can still argue that the school teacher would compare and give the child low marks. Then the child would get used to getting low marks and will never strive hard to be the best. But isn’t this the root of all evil in education system? Striving for marks and not learning!!! Why should there be marks at all at this age?

And competition? While I am personally against the spirit of competition at any level, others may not agree with me, which is fine. But competition at this age? When children should be focusing on learning, understanding, improving, thinking creatively and not limiting their thought process to getting good marks?

Sadly that has become the state of child development today. Instead of helping our children become capable and confident, we teach them to live superficially. We teach them to give value to marks that are a representative of their intelligence as against learning the hard way that may fetch them low marks but will make them much more intelligent.

I think the education system must work on spontaneity. Don’t ask the children to get the work done from home. Ask them to spend more time in school and give them on the spot assignments. Let them roam freely in school and come up with ideas. Let them experiment with their color pencils and crayons and make clumsy drawings. Let them fiddle with paper, scissors and glue and try to make anything they want. Let the older students look through books in the library and search for their answers. Let them get curious, let them come to you asking for answers and wanting to learn ways of doing something. When you teach them now they will remember the lesson for life. That’s the way anyone would learn. Let the parents not worry about the child’s marks and position in the competitive world at least till the age of 11 or 12. Let the child develop his intelligence and not his stature. Once you have taken care of the intelligence I can assure anyone that the child will take care of his future. Because this child would be trained to tackle problems not by knowing all the solutions in the world, but by his ability, and more importantly, confidence of being able to find a solution when he needs it.

I wish parents and teachers understood this. I wish I could do something that would show people how important this is.