Sunday, December 5, 2010

Anjali, and the enthusiasm to learn new things

Now this is certainly one trait most of us adults give up as we grow older. The ability to try new things. To try any new thing reluctantly is a big thing in itself, but to do them enthusiastically, well that's a totally different thing for adults. So when we watched Anjali today we suddenly realized that we have been missing another huge lesson she has been quietly teaching, by living it. The enthusiasm to learn new things.

Shobha it was, who pointed out to me that Anjali was keen to learn 'V'. Her school, the fabulous 'Daksha' school at Yousufguda, teaches Anjali and her other friends one letter and a rhyme connected with that letter each week. She has so far come till the letter 'U' (Up, Umbrella, Up)and since last week, she has been impatient to learn 'V'. After she checked with Shobha about when the mystery behind 'V' will be revealed, Shobha, leaned over and said - 'She has been going on about this V for a while. Surprising isn't it, that she looks forward to learn?'
Anjali, adding her bit at Daksha
I tested Anjali again. 'You have to go to sleep early,' I told her. 'So you can go to school on time'. Her face became solemn and serious and instead of throwing her normaly tantrum, she replied. 'Otherwise I cannot go to school and learn my 'V' letter nanna. Aunty is going to teach me tomorrow.'

And then you realise that children have this wonderful enthusiasm to learn and try new things far beyond their capabilities. Not for them words like limitations, complexity, hard work, fear of failing, what others think - she wants to do whatever you are doing, even if you are three times her height and ten times her weight. In fact, the more you discourage her from doing certain things, the more she wants to try them, even if she has to cry buckets and make a scene. That's how badly they want to try new things!

So she does not tire of - wanting to place her hand over mine when I am changing gears in the car and ask 'which gear nanna?', wanting to open the huge padlock to the house despite the lack of light in the porch so we wait until she finds the keyhole, wanting to climb on to the biggest slide in the park and sliding down at what could be terrifying speeds for her, wanting to play with all her older cousins at games that she is no match for them at all and still trying her best to catch them, reaching out to every new toy and figuring out how to operate them (I never seem to get where their buttons are), sitting for long hours on every puzzle or game until it makes some sense and doing them again and again, wanting to do some gardening with me when I am out watering the plants, wanting to click and move the mouse by herself when her rhyme is done on youtube, wanting to make calls on the mobile to her ajji, wanting to click the camera by herself, wanting to use the fork and spoon by herself, wanting to pay the chap who came to collect the newspaper bill, wanting to use every single new toy instantly, wanting to spot the moon first, wanting to answer the bell each time it rings and so on. Or even the more dangerous stuff like wanting to run full tilt on all sorts of hard and uneven surfaces without a sense of balance, of jumping on the sofa like a trampoline with every chance of falling off, or wanting to pat the unfriendly dog on the street, or wanting to catch the ants or walking into pouring rain with an umbrella and stuff like that. Stuff that all children do. Most things are new for them, at 3 years, but their enthusiasm to learn is amazing. Guess this is what keeps their mind so fresh, so clean and so clear. Their minds are active minds, which act.

The colours of life suddenly take on such vibrant hues when we get into the flow. When we act without fear. Until then we are merely on the shore, wetting our feet, but when you step into the river or the sea of life, then you experience what it really feels like to be alive. You may fall once, but you learn and go on to the new thing. This quality of wanting to learn, with enthusiasm, I think is one quality that can transform the quality of life from the mundane to the electric. Life throbs at that level. So the next time, push the experience a bit more. Instead of merely giving the beggar some money, spend a minute of your time talking to him, instead of merely avoiding the chap who fell down on the road, stop and help him up, instead of wondering what all these technologies are try them, instead of merely waiting for the big occasion, just go ahead and speak to the person you wanted to speak. Do the new. Do the uncomfortable. Do get out of your comfort zone, Stop worrying about failure. New is about growth.

No child grows by not trying anything. No adult either. And the moment you stop growing, you stop showing signs of life. Try out things you never did before. I am.

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