There are a few children’s books that stay with you as you grow up. Year after year, you keep coming back and falling in love with them. They are your best friends, your guides, your answer sheets.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince , E.B White’s Charlotte’s Web and Tottochan by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi are among my most cherished books. The profoundness and simplicity in these books have been my road map to understanding life in general. Here are some insights from these books that have helped me manage my energy and emotions and thus, life.
Why so serious?
‘I manage them. I count them and then count them again. It’s difficult work. But I’m a serious person.’ says the businessman who thinks he owns the stars, to the little prince.
Being serious did not help the businessman and will certainly not help us. Life is about play, about movements and about flow. It is essential to let go, relax and not take everything personally. So next time you are having a difficult time with your child, or are unable to implement your plan, your team members aren’t on the same page as you, pause for a while, stop taking it seriously and personally. For once enjoy the stars you are counting. Appreciate them.
Make space for art and creativity
But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say: ‘That is a hat.’ Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.
Unlike the adults in the book, little prince could see the boa constrictor digesting an elephant in the drawing that the author had made as a child. Don’t let your age block your curiosity. Rekindle your imagination and let the magic thrive within you. Allow art to sustain the joy in your life. Amidst this busy life, let there be some poetry, some art!
Take time off
‘Then – the planet now makes a complete turn every minute, and I no longer have a single second for repose. Once every minute I have to light my lamp and put it out!’ says the lamplighter who never finds the time to rest and is always tired, and all he really wants to do is sleep.
We aren’t the lamplighter of any place. Take time off. Pause, meditate, rest. The pause will help you enjoy each moment the way it is. It will help you see that the beauty of life lies in its impermanence. You will be relieved to know that since things are constantly moving, and transforming, they are also constantly evolving.
Balance and acceptance
Tetsuko Kuroyanagi’s Totto-Chan:The Little Girl at the Window introduces to us the fascinating headmaster of Totto-chan’s new school. His approach to learning is beautifully refreshing, making studying and learning a memorable experience. He asks his pupils to bring ‘something from the hills and something from the ocean’ for lunch and he allows children to swim naked in the pool.
‘He thought it wasn’t right for boys and girls to be morbidly curious about the differences in their bodies, and he thought it was unnatural for people to take such pains to hide their bodies from other people. He wanted to teach the children that all bodies are beautiful. Among the pupils at Tomoe were some who had polio… or were very small, or otherwise handicapped, and he felt if they bared their bodies and played together it would rid them of feelings of shame and help to prevent them developing an inferiority complex.’
How often do we nourish our body with a balanced diet? Do we appreciate our body with all its scars and limitations? Our body is a beautiful temple to our soul and it deserves care, acceptance and love. I have realized the importance of respecting and taking care of my body.
Connecting with the essence
In the book, the headmaster shares Poet Basho’s lines:
Listen! a frog
Jumping into the silence
Of an ancient pond!
Yet the phenomenon of a frog jumping into a pond must have been seen by many others.
Down through the ages and in the whole world, Watt and Newton cannot have been the only ones to notice the steam from a boiling kettle or observe an apple fall.
This says it all, doesn’t it? Connect with the essence of all things. Go deeper, go around, and move beyond. Beauty, Truth, Love and Life: all find a home within you.
Explore things alone, even when we aren’t sure of it
‘When Wilbur moves to Mr. Zuckerman’s barn, he is terrified of going out into the world alone. But when he does, he finds friendship and love and wonderment’ – Charlotte’s Web
Try being Wilbur for once. Do things that scare you, take charge, and be independent. Explore. You never know what the world might teach you!
Wake up early
Wake up early like Fern from Charlotte’s Web, who ‘was up at daylight, trying to rid the world of injustice. As a result, she now has a pig.’ Or take it this way, you wake up before others. That way you have those extra hours to cover extra miles – that could translate into anything – extra bucks, extra health, extra wisdom! In short you increase your odds of striking gold and building your life the way you want. The crisp morning energies will add freshness and light to your day and to your mood.
That was easy, isn’t it? Of course easier said than done. All I am saying is, lessons of life are found in the simplest, innocuous things. Just dig deeper, and you will discover more insights, innocence, and wisdom.
Tanvi Shah is the mentor of Transit Class at Touching Lives. She is also a wonderful Kathak dancer and an art and culture enthusiast.