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Friday, January 10, 2014

Who will teach fighting spirit to our kids?

(This is my first attempt at fiction writing, inspired by my own life experiences)

Happiness needs no conditions. When we are happy, we can keep our family happy. One of the sources of generating great positive thoughts and protecting our inner happiness is seeing our children come out as fighters in life, overcoming odd situations and tough people. But if the so called "fighting spirit" is not taught as a subject in the school, then who is going to teach it to them..READ ON

It was a freezing Delhi morning. 6AM. Out of the addiction that Romesh had developed over the past 1 year, he was getting dressed up for the morning 5Km run. This was not new for him. He was now 40+ and fitness took a prime spot in his life's routine. He could feel the freeze in the air outside the house, as the chillness was seeping through the walls and striking his bones, as if trying to convince his soul that there are more comfortable options than throwing yourself in such chill on a Sunday morning. 

Chill tried its best, but the soul was not as easily conquerable now. It had been made much more resilient by a series of habit formation activities over the last 1 year. Romesh had been practicing for more than a year now. He is an active marathon runner, and came 3rd in the last half marathon held just a few weeks back in Delhi. But today seemed an unusually chilly day. Peeping through his drawing room window, he could see the frozen layer of water on the earthen pots just outside the home. 

The soul finally triumphed as he struggled through with his freezing fingers trying to tie his sports shoe laces to give a final touch to his preparedness in taking the icy cold weather head on.

Romesh was about to leave when his elder daughter, Kavya, woke up. Kids were having fun time these days, as the schools were having extended winter vacations considering the extreme weather conditions in Delhi. 

Kavya was clear that she wanted to join her dad in his fight against the "comfort zone". In spite of all his dad's persuasions, she could not be won over. At the hindsight, Romesh was happy, not only because he will have a good company for the run, but also because he could see the same fighting qualities in her, for which he had struggled for most part of his life.

Kavya was cute, adorable and a competitive 10 year old girl. Always a topper in her class, she wanted to excel in everything that she did. She took 10 minutes to finish her morning chores and got ready with a smart track suit, running shoes, an extra jacket and a woolen head cap to make sure that she is protected from the harshness of chilly air outside.

However prepared you are mentally, it is always a different ball game when you actually step out in the chill for a "seemingly non essential" activity like a morning run. I say it non essential only because one can easily plan to run later in the day as well, today being a Sunday. At least, you will get less daemons in the chilly air. But that is what fighters are made of. They do not bow down to the surroundings. They drive their own life. They create their own situations, and Romesh was proud that Kavya was one of them.

It was more or less a rectangular park with approx 400m of perimeter. It was still dark. The warmth of the morning sun had still not melted the frozen darkness. There were hardly any people around. Romesh and Kavya had just completed a bit of stretching and walk. Their hands and toes were almost freezing cold, although they were trying to keep them as cozy as feasible in their own pockets and shoes. The thought of running and facing the icy wind straight on the face, itself was a chilling thought. But it had to be done. 

As Romesh was about to launch into his 5Km run, he realised that this time, he was not alone and he had come with his daughter. This was not his regular practice session. Slowly, some disturbing thoughts started to cross his mind. 
"How will she manage a 5Km run? I have gone through a 1 year period of habit formation, preparing and running a 21Km half marathon, had a much fitter body. But she had never run more than 1 Km at a stretch. Asking her to do a 5 Km with me in this chilly morning was expecting just too much."

One of the easiest options that both of them had was to continue to do some more walk and then go back home and get sunk in the warmth and coziness of their beds. Romesh offered this option to Kavya. She refused. Kavya was not ready to go back till she ran. Fighters are fighters.

She was clear that she will run 5 Km with her dad. Now, Romesh was getting a little worried. This can be dangerous. If you have never ran even 1 Km at a stretch, running 5 Km at a stretch in a seemingly oxygen deficient chilly weather can be really dangerous. Romesh tried to argue with her by throwing all his technical jargon and the excuse of his own vast experience at her. He also pacified her by sharing that she is very much capable of achieving whatever she wants to, but the stamina for such runs is usually built over time and with practice. His requests to Kavya were falling on deaf ears. After your child turns 10, you have to give them the liberty of taking decisions, even though you may feel that they are not right. At most, you can advise them of the pros and cons.

They started with Romesh keeping his fingers crossed. 5Km meant around 14 rounds around the periphery of the park. They started slow and paced up by the 2nd round. Kavya was talking to Romesh while running just behind him. Romesh was happy that he was taking the chill head on and she was somewhat protected from the direct hit of the freezing winds. But he was also worried that if Kavya is in trouble, he might miss it, and therefore he was keeping a slant view from the corner of one eye. He was also keeping his ears extra recipient to hear her running. Kavya was also trying to communicate with her dad while running. Small chit chats about trees, birds and her school friends were keeping his  mind away from the real danger that lay ahead as they continued to exert pressure on their respective blood pumping organ.

It was after round no. 3 that Romesh stopped getting the communication vibes from Kavya. He looked back while running and checked that she was still running along quietly. Getting quiet during running is often the first symptom that it is not easy. Kavya seemed to be running short of breath. It was only at the end of Round 5 that Kavya decided that her body would not be able to accommodate more stress and she must relax. Kavya, however, asked Romesh to continue, as she detoured towards an icy cold bench nearby. 

Romesh was now much more relaxed. He continued to run as Kavya watched him take round after round, without getting exhausted. Practice and Stamina was the key. Kavya joined back Romesh in round 7, skipped the 8th round, and then she was back with her dad in round 9 and so on, till they accomplished their 14 rounds.

Kavya did her life's best run and must have run at least 3 Km. In spite of the chill, both of them were sweating like anything. In fact, after running for 2 Km or more, it really does not matter how cold is it outside, our body generates enough heat to keep us warm. Gasping for breath, as Romesh gave a "high five" to Kavya, he was very appreciative of her maiden 3 Km attempt. 

But this is what Kavya had to say after this experience:
Papa, I am highly competitive and i thought i can do 5 Km with you. But my body just could not coop up after 5 rounds (roughly 1/3 of the way). While sitting on the bench, first, i felt disappointed. But then i looked at you running, and then i looked at others in the park - who are much younger than you but cannot run this much, and then i thought of all those who do not even have the guts to come out of their own beds to win over themselves. I admired your fighting spirit and the fact that you can do so much being 40+. You have set an example for me today, once again. One day, i will beat you, for sure.

Romesh had never felt happier in life. With cut throat competition all around, where we are just trying to bring others down to "win" the "trivial" battles of life, ironically, when your child intends to barge ahead of you, you feel not only happy but blissful. Kavya had just learnt how to fight life situations (like chill, age, peers under performing etc..) and come out as a fighter in life. This was a lesson well learnt. No school text book, no college curriculum and no teacher could have taught her this.

Romesh was exhausted but his mind was actively thinking while dragging his body back home. He side glanced at Kavya as she was looking ahead confidently while walking. Over the years, Romesh had realized that one doesn't have to teach any of the life skills to our kids. We just have to adopt them in our own lives. Our children will look at us and will learn all of these by themselves. We, as parents, are their role model till a certain age, and if we are not fighting it out in life, if we are just comfortable in our own comfort zones, if we are not visible to them, if we do not have time to spend with them, if we do not play with them, fight with them, run with them, walk with them, study with them, solve school and life situations with them, then there are high chances that they might just miss the most important teachings of life that only we, as parents, are bestowed to pass it on to them.

As they entered the house, they were happy that they could overcome the morning challenge. 

Nothing can be more blissful than seeing our own children acquire these life skills. Happiness cannot be far away. Wishing you happiness unlimited.

(This was my first attempt at fiction writing, inspired by my own life experiences)


Manoj Arora
You are entitled to happiness unlimited !!

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