My last week was packed with classes on psychotherapy, learning about psychotic and neurotic disorders and how they are to be dealt with. A distinguished professor repeatedly stressed that reinventing oneself periodically is the key to positive mental health. Inwardly, I have my own doubts of how feasible this is in today’s fast paced life.
After what seems like ages, I've planned a Sunday outing with my son and my sister-in-law’s daughter. We set out and our first stop is to see my sister’s one-month old baby. “Is it a girl baby?” my niece asks breathlessly and I nod, watching her face light up in joy. She watches the little one with wonder – gently brushing the baby’s cheek with her finger. She wants to know why the baby’s tiny hands are covered with seemingly large gloves. And I unexpectedly home in on the fact that there is something to be learned here.
Lesson number 1: Look at things with a sense of wonder and you are sure to find immense joy in the smallest things. Never be afraid to question what you don’t know. Don’t worry about what the people around will think of you…just ask.
For a moment, my sister has to search for words to explain that the gloves prevent the baby from scratching her face or pulling her own hair. I listen to my sister and smile, anticipating how a few years down the line, the subject of this discussion is going to be driving her mom crazy with questions that do not have such straightforward answers. Baby-gazing over, we head to our destination for the day – the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium.
There is a long queue in front of the ticket counter. I send the kids off to play in the adjoining park and stand in line wondering about how long it’s been since I last stood in a queue.
Lesson number 2: Be grateful for all the facilities you enjoy – even things like online bill payments and banking and home delivery of groceries and vegetables that make life that much easier for you.
Being a Sunday, the place is pretty crowded as expected. But wonder of wonders… an additional show has been scheduled to ensure people don’t have to wait for two hours for the next show or go away disappointed. The person manning the counter is efficient and courteous and the queue moves quickly, busting my prejudice that all government-run institutions are lax and not consumer-friendly.
Lesson number 3: Don’t let stereotypes cloud your eyes and you will find yourself being pleasantly surprised.
Within 10 minutes I have our tickets and we move off towards the sky theater. We are told there are 30 minutes to go and so, we spend a little time in the science park adjoining the theater.
|Image source: http://www.taralaya.org/rolling-cylinders_clip_image002.jpg|
We try out the musical pipe and create transverse waves, check which color plate feels the hottest, listen to echoes, read about the sundial and find out why one of 2 cylinders rolls down an incline faster.
Lesson number 4: Practical demonstration makes theory so much easier to understand. Action is so much more effective than mere words.
Soon, it’s time for the show. We are ushered into the sky theater and it is like stepping into an entirely different world. Kids on a school trip occupy seats near us and one of them asks me if I've been to the show before and what I think of it. The dome presents the dark night sky lit up with stars; the mellifluous background music and the curiosity-evoking commentary evoke a unique sense of wonder.
Although they don’t comprehend some of the content, the kids are well and truly awed by the whole experience. Every time a new image comes up, I am engulfed by a collective sense of amazement expressed through spontaneous clapping, a few excited low whistles from my enthused son and unending gasps of “wow.”
Lesson number 5: Keep yourself open to new, awe-inspiring experiences and let yourself “feel” even though you may not fully understand the logic behind it.
Our trip ends with a sumptuous meal and relaxing in the calm ambiance of the restaurant, I realize that the professor was right.
The past four hours have been a revelation, helping me learn something new. Without my knowledge, I've gone through some level of reinvention. My experience today has shown me it is possible; it does not take a lot of time or effort – all it requires is a deliberate awareness and mindfulness of everyday experiences and the willingness to learn from them.