Its that time of the year again. While everyone is looking forward to new beginnings I am reflecting on the time bygone.Have I wasted a precious year of my life or do I have something to show for it?
It’s a habit which was inculcated in early childhood. Dad, who is a major influence, would say that the first day of the new year is not as important as the last day of the passing year. That ,it is not a time for resolutions and promises but of self assessment and reflection.I can still hear my dad asking us what we had learnt in the entire year. When I was in school and later, in medical college the answer was easy and effusive. There was so much to learn and imbibe.
While he would applaud our accomplishments ,dad would emphasise that the trick was to keep learning even after formal education ended. His exact words were , and I quote, “If you haven’t learnt something worthwhile , acquired a new skill or changed a major opinion, then you have wasted the whole year”
And so I try. Each year I try to add something new to my repertoire of skills. Apart from the constant learning that medical profession entails I have learnt multi-cuisine cooking , public speaking, exotic gardening, glass painting and macrame , bonsai and origami, aerobics and yoga …….. Let me just stop there and say that this list is representative and not exhaustive!!
Not all my learning experiences were fruitful though. I took dance classes twice but can’t dance to save my life. I attended driving school thrice but am afraid of getting behind the wheel. Above all modern technology seems to be my pet peeve. As soon as I acquaint myself with some software it is upgraded to a more ‘user- friendly’ version which I have to painstakingly relearn. But because I firmly believe that being tech savvy is not the sole right of youngsters , I trudge on. Over the years I have learnt basics of windows, power point presentations and video making
Why do I have to obsessively follow an instruction which my father casually gave when I was a child ? Why do I, a middle aged mother, still care for his approval? Its because dad teaches by example . He was the oldest in his class when he learnt basic computers a decade ago. Nearing eighty, this year, he gleefully learnt how to take and upload selfies!! This, despite the fact that, with advancing age, it takes him longer to learn a new skill than forget it
As this year reaches its fag end, I am running out of time. I have yet to acquire a new skill , something meaningful. The fact is that I have spent most of the year catching up with old friends and attending family reunions . I have realised that the best friends are the ones acquired early in life . You can tell them everything , hide nothing and together, laugh about it. There is no need for false pretences and elaborate facades. Similarly, although you can’t choose your relatives they are an integral part of you. They know you for real and are okay with it. I spent the year refreshing these old bonds . A little effort was required to work out the logistics but the result was worth it . Some of us were meeting after decades and yet, we effortlessly picked up from where we had left off .The reunions made me happy and kept me smiling foolishly for days. They had an instant de-stressing and rejuvenating effect.
I just realised, this counts too. 2014 is the year I reconnected with old friends and family and learnt to nurture old relations . A very important life skill ….. dad would agree !!
(published in the Tribune on 31/12/2014 as As the year comes to an end)