Before we start, this is a masterpiece shot by my son himself.
“Child is the father of man”. So spake William Wordsworth many years back. What did he mean??? Possibly he meant that habits formed in childhood stay with you in your adult life. It could also possibly mean something very literal, i.e children by all means are more evolved than adults ever are or as someone said Adults are nothing but deteriorated children.
The last few weeks I have learnt some very important life lessons from the inconspicuous actions of my 6 yr old son Arjun. And I have penned this down only after I have observed certain behaviors passively in him without making him conscious of the same. In fact it’s a release to know that he is just about in to reading complete sentences and is not yet on Facebook. So most probably he won’t be reading this for I don’t want him to be conscious of something that he does so effortlessly.
OK here goes…
Lesson No.1: Making a connection.
We went to a mall some time back and were engrossed in shopping. My wife took some clothes and headed to the trial room, it being a weekday the store was relatively empty. My son almost instinctively followed my wife to the changing section before being stopped by a lady security guard who possibly last smiled when India became independent. Dejected he came back and started playing with the trolley. I ignored and continued looking for dresses as instructed by my wife. After a while I saw the security guard and Arjun playing with each other. He was hiding behind the trolley and she was ahead. Both were moving around in circles. She would look up momentarily as if to pretend that she was not playing around lest the security cameras would capture her. But as she kept going around she would look back at Arjun and both of them had this mischievous twinkle in their eyes. There it was, he had made a connection. The vibe which she gave us first was absolutely repulsive, I Infact had moved far away from her without even realising it. That was a brick wall. How did he breach it?
Instance 2: Another day, another store. Parents busy shopping. Where’s our man. Not to be seen. He is running around in the mall and chasing a child, both of them have taken the store on their head. Two sets of parents trying to separate two kids from each other. But they are not going anywhere. They are stuck to each other like glue. With too much effort and after a wry exchange of conscious smiles, the parents finally succeed. All we can muster up…”Kids today…”
Instance 3: We are on a holiday in Kerala, We are in the restaurant having food. There is a garden by the restaurant. There is a small kid playing in the garden, He approaches the kid tells him something, I am sure the kid doesn’t understand Hindi. After a while both of them are running around in circles to sit on the slide. Arjun is speaking to the child in Hindi, he is not responding at all, but that doesn’t matter, both are running around, sitting on a see saw. And again both sets of parents never spoke to each other.
Instance 4: Another anecdote from the holiday. An older kid came to the hotel and started doing stunts at the play ground. He hung himself upside down on the swing. All small kids clung to him like magnets. Arjun pulled me to the play area to meet the kid, he was older, around 12 years. The topic of conversation was very important. “Dad do you believe this. This Dada here has unlocked Rain forest in Archery Master. He uses the Golden Composite arrow. How can he do that we are still stuck at Deadly Dessert with a Carbon Composite arrow?” All I could manage was a smile. Both of them spoke like they knew each other from birth.
Instance 5: Again on holiday, Stuck in a shelter at the top of a Dam with many people as there was a thunder storm. Everybody was looking worried as the Jeep to carry us was not arriving. Utter chaos. He looked back and there were some kids. He did his Zulu dance, throwing up his hands and legs, the kids started laughing. He is speaking to them in Hindi and the kids are laughing and having a good time. They don’t know Hindi, He doesn’t know Malayalam. But when was language a problem. After a while the parents in that area of the shed joined in and were having a good laugh. My mother was visibly a bit embarrassed at the show. She was telling him. Why did you dance like that??? He just kept laughing.
My learning: How do kids make these connections instantaneously? How is it that they are so spontaneous? Why is it that they have no fear of failure? Why is it that they have no pretensions?
Well here are the answers that I can conjure up.
Living in the present:
Possibly because Kids live life like it is meant to be lived. They live in the moment. The are not overawed by what happened to them sometime back or what will happen if something negative happens in the future. They just do it. They just act. They will deal with the reaction of their action when the time comes. How many of us can do that? In my personal life there have been so many instances where I think I should have behaved in a particular manner after the event has passed. But when it was happening there were so many things happening in my mind that I froze and couldn’t take the right decision. We act through the prism of the mind. Faced with any situation our mind throws up past experiences and possible outcomes as extrapolated from past data. We are stuck in the clutches of this prism and only act out of our fears or our anxieties in most cases, whereas the moment has nothing to do with either past or future. it is independent. How easy to say, but how difficult to act on this.
The Freedom from Ego: What is Ego? Eckhart Tolle once said Ego is identification with Form. Well here is how I would define Ego. Ego is a false self that we have created in our mind or the mind has created without our knowledge basis our life experiences, our fears, our anxieties and our wants from life. It is like a monster that lives within us which keeps wanting. Nothing satiates its hunger. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger as we grow older. Most of us are unconscious enough to completely identify with the ego, i.e ” I am the ego” it dictates our behavior, our response, it gives us distress when we are not able to satiate it’s hunger. Basically we act out of its command. If the ego thinks we are bound to suffer, we will suffer. If the ego thinks someone was unfair to us, it gives us the license to inflict torture on another. The ego gives us justification for all our behaviors. But look what the ego takes away. It takes away Free will. It takes away our right to respond independently to a situation. It takes away our spontaneity, our life energy, the one that makes us unique. This is what ails all adults.
Now look at kids, they are still in the formative years and the ego is yet not developed fully. The only time it possibly manifests itself is if we don’t give into a child’s tantrums, “Dad I want this… I want that” the “I” is only slowly developing but at least in 70 to 80% of times they are free from the clutches of the ego. Kids have freewill. They do and act as they want, not how the ego wants. This is why they are not afraid of connecting with strangers. They take their chances. They are OK with rejection as they have not associated it with societal ignominy. They just act. But as time passes, the parents feed them with stuff that builds an ego, the parent’s experiences, the parent’s weakness, the conditioning of religion, the conditioning of gender, the conditioning of society, all are passed onto the child slowly and steadily and lo we have another human without being.
Why can’t we as adults on the other hand learn these traits from kids? Aren’t they far superior to us ? Look around… They are free and you are not. Why are they free???
I am looking around keenly for other life lessons that my Guru could teach me. This thread will continue as and when this deteriorated adult learns a new lesson from his master.