Recently there was a long discussion amongst some of my buddies, where there was a comparison of how we lived and how our kids are living today. Their experiences, their value systems, and the world facing them. There was a concern that they are facing lot more information and competition load than we had to. They have to grow up faster. One person, for example, took his first Math Olympiad when he was in Grade 10th, while his kid went through that in Grade 4! This study pressure, the buddy avered, had robbed the kid off of playing time.
Between standing up valiantly for both generational experiences and blaming the world of today for what the kids are going through, there were various hues to the discussion. I am presenting my view here from that discussion, as it is something I would like to get some discussion on.
Are you sure if your kids do not get the time to play its because of the “generation” they are in? Or is it because of the ambitions of the parents?
From my childhood I remember that parents really never bothered much about the kids scores/grades until the 10th grade and after. The kids were allowed to handle themselves the way they wanted. That meant the kids will falter and fall.. but also find a way to get up. It also meant that their soul will flower as well. If some kid developed an interest in painting or in say a certain sport, then s/he will follow it. The parents weren’t herding them from one class to another just because it was available at the local neighborhood club and was affordable.
I still remember that I used to paint not because someone told me to or because I had to report to an Art Class, but because I found joy in that. I wasn’t doing great paintings all the time, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that for 2-3 hours into the night I was lost in a world of my own. I used to get into a zone which I loved to be in. Eventually I learnt to draw a bit. The same thing happened when one day I decided that I wanted to express myself in poetry. That it ended up helping my HIndi grades was serendipitous, but that wasn’t my goal. My soul wanted to express and that’s what I did.
When I passed out of my MBA I asked my Uncle as to where should I go – Accounting or Advertising – former was based on my background in B. Com and ICWA and latter was based on my inherent need for creativity. He brushed down my inherent expression and gave a quick decision “Follow your background”. And so I went into Finance. A decision I have learnt to somehow live with over my career!
If you look at the entire creation as a whole, you will find that it comprises of two inherent basic qualities – Masculine and Feminine. They have nothing to do with male or female. Masculine manifests in VIolence, Power, Economics, Money, Structure, and Politics. Feminine manifests as Creativity, Innovation, Art, Beauty, Compassion, Love and Caring. The entire existence needs both to be there.
You will also notice that Masculine quality is essentially responsible for survival instincts. It can at best ensure survival. It is the Feminine quality that ensures Flowering of the Creation! If we lose the feminine, we are only surviving! Nothing more. Unfortunately, that’s the direction in which the mankind in general is moving to.
And our generation – however intelligent and well informed it has become – has been drained in survival instincts. We have killed our instinct to Flower. And this sad dichotomy is BEST illustrated in our education system. It is so lop-sided that it will only create men and women who will only know the science of survival but never the art of flowering as individuals. They will go through their lives knowing ONLY one or at most two dimensions of who they are. They will NEVER know the entire selves of who they are! Can there be a greater misfortune? That one person goes through his/her life meeting, analyzing everyone in every dimension.. but never having met HIMSELF completely?? If you have not even met yourself FULLY, what have you done in your life? Just survived.. right? Just plain survived! That even an animal could have done. If my parents had done what I and many in my generation are doing to their kids, I would have NEVER known that I had this dimension where I could paint.
In the last few years, when I started blogging… EVERYONE who cares for me.. without exception has asked me the same question – why do you spend time on your blog if it doesn’t pay you? No one – even my closest – have ever realized that expressing for me is like oxygen. I will die if I don’t express. Money or no money. If my closest had had their way, then I would have NEVER known that I could express myself in so many ways. And in that endeavor – flower in a whole new way that I had never done before! (PS: I rarely got a over a B in my English compositions in school.. and I have not read fiction except for Hardy Boys series – so I was – and am – ill-read and hardly had any writing ability to start off with!)
But will I be able to back my kids up if they want to do just for the sake of joy? I don’t know. And that is our failure.
I still remember in school, there was only one kid in our class who did after school what HE wanted to do. Gurinder. He went to an Art College though he was really good in Sciences and Maths. Last time I was with him he showed me pictures he took on his last trek to the Himalayas. He had spent an entire night on a mountain slope covered with snow completely. It was all white as far as you could see. He was all alone on that slope for many miles. And he had taken pictures of the moon from the opening of his tent.
Now, I have travelled a lot. But all of that travel has been sanitized travel. When I went to a beach or to a mountain, I went there as a tourist. I did not “communicate” with the mountains. I didn’t give ANY chance to the mountain to know me and then to accept or reject me. Gurinder did. And that is a unique experience I am sure. If you think I am talking bunkus, try to go to a mountain on your own. There will be places where you will be able to go unhindered and others where you will find so tough to go despite everything being right! In the larger sense I call that the “acceptance” or “rejection”.
Gurinder’s spirit has flowered like no one else’s in our friends. He doesn’t do all that because he makes money off of that. He does all that because he has a calling from the heart. And, most importantly, he LISTENS to it. The rest of us are blind and deaf to our own selves! We listen fully focused to the TVs but never to our own hearts. How sad can that be?
If we are like that – survival instinct powered people – can we let our kids flower?
I am sure a 4th grader didn’t know of a Math Olympiad. But someone told her that. Why? Because you think if she got on top of that – she will get to such and such height in so and so field. Then what? Better survival. I don’t want to pick on you.. but we all are trying that in our own way to make our kids better survivors.
The femininity in our midst is not dying because we are killing baby girls. That is just a symptom of a larger malaise.
It is dying because we are killing the qualities of femininity in ourselves. The world has been systematically robbed of – in the past 2000 odd years – of the manifestation of Feminine as the Divinity. The phenomenon of Goddesses being thrown out of religious mindset had larger implications than what seems obvious. In that act, we have robbed ourselves of the ability to recognize the contribution of femininity to the entire creation itself. Shiva – also called Ardhnareshwar (Half Man and Half Woman) – is the manifestation of this creation. This may not be a fact, but it is the truth! You, I, and every one else is an Ardhnareshwar in the way we are conceived. But it is in our lives and the way we CHOOSE to live that we kill half of ourselves! The half that is the CRITICAL piece to our flowering. So we may end up being geniuses in the subject of Joy… but we will never be able to EXPERIENCE joy! And that is PRECISELY what is bothering you when you look at your daughter and worry about her lack of playing.
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