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Perceiving Special & Ordinary

Last Saturday morning talk with parents was uplifting and I could visualise children growing deep in their connections. While we were discussing many things about how one could become more caring by being aware and more present, there was an interesting sharing by one of them. She said that how simple ideas are becoming revelations and it may appear to us that these ideas may or may not have a huge impact on life, given the broader perspective of how we all grew up. She expressed thanks to the current group of children, and that they are leading us to this state of enquiry.

This was a thought-provoking share and thanks to her, it brought me back to my musings on why we do what we do today. I do not remember my mother or grandmother talking about showing care for my body or any of my cousins or to my own child. They simply did what they had to do. A daily ritual of Abhyangana snana from birth to at least next one year (or more) was more of an understood rhythm. Nobody discussed that it is important to care for the body, we need to be completely present while doing the massage or about how we should enjoy the whole process. They simply enjoyed it by directly doing it, without any talk or discussion around the same. What prompts us today to discuss it, it is indeed important to dwell upon the same. Why do we have to do it, after all?

My mother always told me and my sister how they (my mother and her siblings) used to do something just because their mother asked them to do so. They simply did and they never felt like questioning back with a “Why?” To be able to have strong instinct and trust over something, that we are presented with, is not so common today. Many of us find it difficult to accept anything as is in the face of it. We question, have a deep urge to give it a proper shape and find it difficult to settle for anything less. 

A generation ago, parents did not get concerned about how the child played and there was no question of 'engaging' the child. Children played and they lived. It was a natural phenomenon. Parents did not get worried if their child can be sent to the neighbourhood and what would they get exposed to there. Because children lived in neighbourhoods, more than at home, or rather, the neighbourhood was an extension of home. They were not worried if the child is treated well, given appropriate food to eat, or exposed to the media. People simply lived out of what is presented to them and hardly challenged the environment.  

With time, we moved from joint families to nuclear families. We shifted from one doctor for all ailments to a specialised professional for each part of the body. We transformed from localisation to globalisation. We shared with pride when children left villages and moved to cities and then to abroad. We thought we are born to do complex things, hence we gave time and effort more to cracking critical puzzles and less to making the needful with hands. As we solved many such problems and felt things were getting simplified, we evolved from being entitled to sufficient possibilities, to having as many as we want if we have the means to achieve. As we concentrated on means to achieve, we found that more and more we use our energy to formulate complex theorems, we will be offered with a lot of means. And  that kind of means would in turn, take care of all the things and comforts we want and we could afford many more we want.

It appears that the idea of sufficiency left our consciousness long back. As we got used to having more and more, our focus shifted from having needful to, something that gives us an edge to experience the finer, rare and luxurious things that are on offer. Our race received more pace and we reached a state that, whatever we want, is looked at as a possibility. Our eyes are set on that goal, which will only keep moving away at the same pace (if not greater) as you try to move towards it. Because there is no limit to a specialization and to perceive the nature of an object. Our gaze became so fixed that we wanted to reach, and did not hesitate to multitask. On the journey, we might have missed to notice who fell apart, who could not run anymore, who needed to rest, who sought to explore the surroundings and feel the beauty of the path. 

Finally it seems that we reached a state where the group consciousness transformed to individual consciousness. It is all about what "I can do, I have to do, I want to do." This change is very evident all around. 

Earlier we had one item called footwear for all needs when we wanted to step-out - simple design slippers. Now we have sandals, floaters, shoes - ballerinas, cut shoes, flat shoes, sport shoes, non marking sport shoes, shoes for walking, shoes for running, shoes for hiking, shoes for cycling, shoes for football, shoes for cricket and... and .... - and just by typing the names I go breathless! How about hair oil? - anti-dandruff, coconut, Ayurveda, cooling effect, fast growth, herbal, almond, amla, for frizzy hair, for grey hair, for good sleep - the list is endless again. Similarly you can find thousand varieties and choices in every item that you can imagine, including education!

Whether we are into alternative education or into plastic containers manufacturing, we have similar consciousness. To look minutely at each specimen, observe, analyse, refine and take it forward. That is the reason why we have attention to detail now than ever and hence the specialization in variety. Would it greatly impact life if we simply bought slippers all life and not worry about the hundred thousand varieties out there? Probably not, if you know your needs well and they are not varying much with time. Probably yes, when they say your feet are not for running in a marathon, you should invest in good shoes. Of course you need to invest in good shoes if you decide that you have to run in a marathon, not by need but because you want to do it. The feet would not magically gain the characteristics it should have unless it was subjected to a particular need, slowly and steadily. So if we have decided to run one day suddenly, it is better that you invest in shoes rather than just saying - "my grandfather never had shoes to run then why should I buy?" We certainly do not have the feet of the grandfather, who used to walk miles, work in fields, who was used to walking in rough terrain without footwear, who did not mind walking with bare feet in slush etc. So either we train our feet or buy shoes, we bring our awareness to specific details.

Coming back to our question in focus, is it necessary to be aware of every single detail or is it alright to get carried with what is presented? Especially, when we are with the child and his/her education is of concern. Probably yes, if the needs of the child are specific and asking us to be more aware of every single change. Probably not, if the child's needs are getting addressed by the way you live your life and provide to children what naturally comes from life.

However it is the adult in question here, who is trying to understand and define the needs of the child. Probably we may understand the special needs as a generic need or vice versa, based on who we are. While we try our best to understand, what is it that we can focus on? The path that we are walking on should hopefully guide us on how we can make it better. 

Certainly we want our children to grow holistically, to use their hands at making the needful, while using their heads to solve critical problems when required and a kind heart to accept, forgive and find the beauty in the process. We can make it possible for them by giving an experience of what we can do together in our connections and bring back the group consciousness experience to the child, by utilising our own current phase of individual consciousness.

I believe that is the kind of progress we are making in alternative education when we are doing the same. Use the individual consciousness of us to create fundamental experiences for children. Though it looks like we are offering tailor made near perfect experiences, this adds beauty and value when we look at what is behind our current comforts. In what is special, we look for the ordinary and in what is ordinary, we look for the special! Like the idea of Abhyangana snana becoming special, though it's a basic ritual.

Let us not make it a habit to give finer experiences to children. Let children feel the joy and find the beauty in the ordinary. We concentrate on this, by creating that environment, where we are all part of. We can do it by practising to make our own life basic and need based. When we read different philosophies and profound texts, we should make those what resonated with us, a part of our own living. By doing so, we become such individuals who appreciate living as one of the most significant mediums, to educate the child and hence the need to be more present in this process. To try to bring our awareness to what is essential and to observe if we are preoccupied with our preferences that come from our own individuality, becomes significant. Are we steady enough to evolve to be that person or do we want to get that shield for the marathon - whatever you choose, I am sure it is appropriate, as you would do it in the best interest of your own life.



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