To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child , a garden patch, or a redeemed condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 31, 2011

A cry!

A high pitched cry!  I froze in my tracks.

It was a busy morning.  After getting my 10-year old ready for school, I'd just opened our front door to unlock the gate (and to get the newspapers, to browse at least the headlines before rushing to get ready for office) when I heard my son's cry.  The first thought that came to mind (like any parent): he may have hurt himself.  A moment later, however, he came bounding up to the door and pointed outside, where a thick fog was billowing.  Oh, so that was the reason for the excited cry.  Quite a relief.  He went on to tell his mom how everything outside was "invisible" (not the first time this season he had seen fog, but not this late in the season).

After the initial reaction, it got me thinking.  When was the last time I myself had such a 'hoopla' moment, or even wonder?  Even simple things like excitement watching (and feeling) first drops of rain...  excitement (fueled by anticipation) at fruits being plucked from a tree using a long twine...  excitement (tinged with apprehension) reading down the school/college results list...  Can't even remember the feeling, the last time it happened.  Slowly, it seems, as we settle down into humdrum everyday life and the years advance, almost all excitement goes out of the life for many of us.  Those who're fond of sport, for instance cricket in India, are blessed in the sense that at least they can get momentary excitement when they watch matches.  For those who're not too fond of cricket et al, like yours truly (though watching World Cup Soccer remains an abiding interest, but alas, a four-yearly affair), even that is not there.

Is excitement good or bad?  For some of course, like those suffering from heart or brain ailments, it may be bad.  I still remember when we were watching the World Cup Cricket '83 finals, and India were on the verge of winning, the TV commentators were advising heart patients to stop watching!  Also, there's something on the waxing and waning levels of adrenaline in blood not being good for heart/blood vessels.  But even medically, I'd guess (and I could be totally wrong) that occasional excitement may not be a very bad thing (at the least, it could 'keep the machine running' i.e. hone our 'fight or flight' instincts!).

But leaving aside the medical aspects, most people may agree that at least a bit of excitement now and then, whether in relations or at work, may help to bring the best out in people.  Sadly, it seems, the daily grind of rushing about, dealing with traffic, grappling with a (usually) tense & competitive work environment, and then housework (and this applies quite a lot, if not equally, to men too) tends to leave our senses totally dull and hardly receptive to any source of 'real' excitement.  On the other hand, the constant stress may be sending misleading 'fight or flight' signals to our body (sometimes keeping it under a constant state of 'excitement'), with adrenaline rushing about and sometimes doing irreparable damage to our body and mind.  So what's the way out?  'Create' some real excitement in daily life?  Easier said than done, contrary to what the self-improvement guides may teach (too much work!).

The least we can do is not to stifle but nurture the sense of wonder and excitement in our children, mostly at things we ourselves now find mundane or everyday.  Who know, if we allow our taut senses the leeway to empathize with the children's feelings in a true manner, we may also be on the way to recapturing some of that wonder and excitement.

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