January 28, 2011

Close Your Eyes

One of the most important lessons I learnt in life happened when I was least expecting it to spring itself on me.

I sat as part of a large audience, listening to the speaker, who was a charming young man, and speaking a lot of sense. He spoke about drugs, he spoke about sex, he spoke about academics, he spoke about peers and the resultant pressure - all those things that are so important to teenagers, all those things they give so much importance to, but speeches nevertheless, and we forget them faster than we can step out of the hall.

"Don't give gyaan," we are saying inside our heads, no matter how much sense it makes. I was gradually switching off because there is only so much that you can and want to absorb and after a point, I decided it was irrelevant to me. I had hardly ever given in to peer pressure, I had my own mind and opinions, I would never touch alcohol and drugs and cigarettes with a ten foot barge pole and I had particularly strong personal views about pre-marital sex at that point in time. I didn't need this talk. I was doing fine.

My parents had done a fabulous ethic-and-morals job on me, I would say.

Then the speaker's voice broke through my reverie. Get up, find a person you have never met or seen or spoken to before. Form pairs - one of you will be blindfolded, the other will take the blindfolded person for a walk around the children's park next door.

I gulped. Nothing in my wildest dreams would have prepared me for this. Especially not this.

We got up awkwardly, that hall full of about 100 people, and I was found by a large, bored looking girl. She said an awkward hello and smiled at me and we introduced ourselves. All I knew was I was going to be led around a park, replete with children and adults, who would see the lot of us blindfolded - and my guide's name was Priya.

I was blindfolded - Priya held my hand and took me for a walk. I felt a bit like a blind dog. It was consoling that there were about fifty pairs of us. I was not the only one looking like a fool.

Lesson no.1. None of us wants to look like a fool if we are going to do it alone, no matter what the activity, of learning, of fun, or both.

I groped, stepped very gingerly, afraid of tripping or walking into people and things. After a while, I realised...I did not need to do it. I did not need to try. I needed just to listen to Priya. She kept telling me where there was a stone, some cow dung, a dog running straight at us, she steered me off paths where I would trip or fall, she counted out stairs for me so I could climb without worrying. After a while, I stopped worrying and smiled and let go of that worry - I allowed Priya to lead me, and meanwhile, I decided to do other things.

I heard a child laughing while being given a push on a swing. I smelt the gentle waft of jasmines in the park. I felt a dog run past me, his soft fur touching my feet for a split second. I laughed and giggled at how this whole activity was funny.

You know the best part - in less than ten minutes, I had a friend I completely trusted and all I knew about her was her name. The sound of her voice. How her hand felt in mine. Safe and responsible. How many times have I made a friend who I trusted so completely in a span of ten minutes?

Lesson no.2. Life can be trusted to take you safely through every path, if you only let it steer the wheel - it can be trusted you know. There is no need to worry. At all.

Some of us call it God.


Shastri said...

This is beautifully written and rings a familiar bell :) Only, I had not articulated my experience as beautifully.
I think we need to revisit our courses and posts of this nature often, because we tend to forget them, no matter how well we know that they're the most sensible methods to existence, the only ways to make meaning out of chaos - and understand that the chaos is the meaning, and these lessons are the language that help us decipher those meanings.
Thank you for such a timely post. I travel now, safe and assured that all will be well tomorrow :)

Saumitra said...

i am amazed at how easy it is to forget our basics. one small thing/event-good or bad, just steers us uncontrollably in a direction which we never knew. i have trust issues but this little experiment would be good for anyone like me. lessons in life come when u least expected.it's a cliche´but do u know y they come the way they do. just to jolt us out of the niche´we create for ourselves.. to break the "comfort cocoon" .. it's amazing how many of us talk about being open minded when we actually are not. "guilty". thanks reema.. my eyes r open "again".. until i fall asleep "again".. until i'm woken up "again"

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

Interesting anecdote.
I remember one from a short story by Mitch Albom in which he tells how his teacher told every student to have faith in his partner and let himself fall backward freely. How they all gave way to panic and rebalanced themselves after a short tipping. There was one girl who let go, and yes, she was caught by her partner before she could fall.
Perhaps, this is what we call faith.

Blasphemous Aesthete

rashmi said...

Waow! Great Experience and Realisation!

Ree said...

@shaz: random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty reminds me of this too :)

@sau: but the you of you, you always remember, whether you sleep or you rise :)

@BA: one of my most loved authors - i will never forget tuesdays with morrie :)