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Friday, 17 November 2017

NaBloPoMo 2017: Day 17: Learning from Hard Knocks

When I asked THE question before beginning this series of blog posts for November, I received replies that covered a very broad spectrum. Of all these, there were a few that surprised me. One that came from my old student Arfa, I’ve already shared in the post about forgiveness. There was another one in this same category, which said, 

“What I have understood is that we waste our time in searching for happiness. I feel that happiness is within ourselves and we don’t have to search anywhere. Success is just a part of happiness. Overall, I can say that as per my little experience, higher expectation is the key to unhappiness or a peace-less life. If we expect higher, and then, we fail to reach that level, we get depressed in such a way that we feel it difficult to get back to normal life. So, my approach is this – do what you want to do with full heart and then, whatever ups down come, accept it equally and continue to work without accepting failure. Instead of trying to impress others, we must live for ourselves.”

I’d like you to try and guess how old a person needs to be to reach these realizations. Quite probable you said 40 or 50 – because that’s the time when generally, we graduate from the School of Hard Knocks of Life and finally begin realizing these truths.

What if I told you that these are the words of yet another ex-student of mine called Ramya K.? Someone who’s in her 20’s? Would you be just as surprised as me to realize that not all youth conform to the stereotype we have of them as people who don’t realize the meaning of what’s important in life?

For a little while, after reading this message from her, I felt a little sad. To think that people are enrolling in the School of Hard Knocks of Life so early nowadays. If you remember how much heartbreak you have endured to learn your own lessons, you will understand what I mean. And yet, that sad feeling soon passed. Because I was able to see that in learning those lessons, she had proved herself to be bigger than those hard knocks. That’s when I felt proud of Ramya. And happy. Much happier than I had felt at her scoring high marks in college.

Often, we dole out advice, give suggestions, monitor what is happening and indulge in some or the other form of helicopter parenting (which, in case you haven’t heard the term, means to hover anxiously around your children – although it can be anyone else too, not necessarily only children). We want to save the people we love, from difficulties that they will face – so we try to warn them and keep them away from tough situations. But that's as futile as the efforts of Siddhartha Gautama's father....

One simple fact we fail to accept is that some things don’t register by vicarious learning. Each one has to fall himself or herself and learn how to get up and brush off the dust and walk again. Some people will ponder over the meaning of it all the very first time, and quickly learn how not to stumble. Others will need a few more falls before they learn. A few rare souls may never learn at all. 

In my own life, I've noticed that I keep stumbling in some areas until I've thoroughly learned all the lessons that need learning. Once I finish learning, it's as if all those stumbling blocks have just disappeared.

As onlookers to others' stumbling, we must be able to adopt that don’t-expect-too-much concept that Ramya spoke about. We must be able to be there, ready to help, if called upon, without waiting to say, “See? I told you…”. We must be able to deal with not being called upon to help, too. Other than this, perhaps the only other thing we can do is pray – for the loved one, and for ourselves, too….

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