VALUABLE LESSONS FROM THE SPIDER

You must’ve seen me around you some time or the other. In case you haven’t, you must’ve at least heard about the encounter of the valiant king Robert Bruce with one of my brethren. Let me remind you about that encounter in brief. The king of Scotland, Robert Bruce had been defeated six times in battle by the army of England. He was dejected and was in hiding in a cave. That’s when he spotted one of my brethren trying to spin a web – attempting again and again till success was achieved. King Bruce was inspired and got up to attack England again. This time he was victorious!

We spiders don’t have lofty ambitions. But, we are pretty much target-oriented. Whatever target we fix, we make sure to achieve it. We don’t leave any work undone if its within our capacity. Take for example, spinning our webs. At times we face external hindrances while spinning our webs. Gusts of winds blow them away, rains wash them away or humans brush our webs off to keep their houses clean. But, we start all over again. We do not give up! Well, yes, we create nuisance for humans by finding a space for ourselves in the corners of their houses till we are discovered. But, then that’s how we survive. Think of it human readers – don’t give up till your targets are achieved. Don’t get discouraged by hindrances. Keep working on your goals with focus, and you will attain success in the work of your hands.

Do you know why we spin webs? To trap prey for our food. You would’ve observed the fine threads of a spider’s web. Let me tell you one secret about the threads. They are our unique gifts. These are not ordinary threads. The threads we spiders use are fine silk threads produced by our silk glands. Again, there is no uniformity in the type of silk that we use to spin the web. The threads can be thick or thin, dry or sticky, rough or smooth. We use the type of silk depending upon the prey that we are planning to trap for the meal. After all, like human beings, we too have our meal moods and varying tastes! We are grateful to our Creator for gifting us with such special silk glands. Our Creator has gifted something special to each of His creation. Discover the special ability you have been blessed with and use it to proclaim your uniqueness.

We don’t hesitate to enter into lofty towers or kings palaces, though we are negligible, tiny and unwanted. We give priority to our survival tasks. A wise writer writes about us, “The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces.” We want to encourage you not to be taken aback by the gigantic personalities in your lives – but, to be clear about your tasks and prioritize them even if it would require you to barge into unwanted terrains and face difficult people.

You may have observed another thing about us. We walk on our ways alone. You will never see clusters of spiders together spinning a web. We don’t hesitate to walk alone on our paths. Teamwork is good, desirable and essential in certain circumstances. But, in our lives, we walk the way on our own. A message to our human readers, don’t be afraid to walk your path alone. You may not always find favourable company or the support that you desire. But, that shouldn’t stop you in your tracks. Keep on moving ahead by yourself knowing that your Creator is close beside you.

I believe I have given a brief peek into myself and those belonging to my clan. You’ll find us everywhere – of course, the type of our species depends upon the climatic conditions of the place. Antarctica is the only continent that remains unchartered for us. But, now with the global temperatures increasing, we’ll be there soon too.

So yes, fix your targets, discover your special inner abilities, prioritize your goals without being afraid of people or circumstances and lastly, never hesitate to walk the path alone.

Next time, you spot one of my brethren, be sure to recall and strive to practise these four lessons!

THE CRAWLIES WHO LIVE IN DARKNESS BEFORE GETTING WINGS

Eew! Eeks! Boo! Spooky! Scary! Aaa…!

We usually utter such words whenever we spot a creepy crawly around us. As I start writing on this topic, I feel the tickling sensation as if a bug is going to hop upon my arm or I am going to step on those wiggly worms!

In spite of the petrifying feeling these little creatures give, they are fascinating, at least for the kids. That’s why there are so many children’s books written on these creepy crawlies.

Lio Lionni’s Inch By Inch depicts the story of an inchworm who tries to measure the world around him and avoids being eaten by predators.

There’s an interesting book by Jane Yolen, Bug Off which is a collection of creepy crawly poems, which in fact are very inspirational, eg.-

An army of ants, in their working class pants,

They don’t sop for movies, they don’t stop to dance.

The Very Greedy Bee by Steve Smallman is about how the bees who apart from sharing the nectar, share the load also.

The crux of the matter is that there is a lot to learn from nature, even from the teeny-weeny organisms.

One of the favourite books of children is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My kids love it so much that I read it to them almost every day, especially to my 3-year-old. It describes the journey of a caterpillar who starts his journey from an egg and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. It is such a fascinating book in which the caterpillar eats so much that he becomes big and fat from tiny.

That’s one of the most important jobs of a caterpillar- to eat. They eat as much as 27,000 times the weight of their body during the life cycle. Also called the eating machines, caterpillars have the fastest growth rate than any animal.

(Preeta, with her tiny friends)

Another distinct feature of caterpillars is that it may have upto 4000 muscles in its tiny body. No, I am not kidding. It’s really strange that nature has made us such- we humans with just 650 muscles in a huge body might suddenly start feeling so small!

Caterpillars outgrow their skin and also shed it 3 to 5 times. After the final detaching, they stick themselves on a tree branch and enter the pupa stage. After the process of metamorphosis, they become moths or butterflies.

Sometimes, I also wish I could develop a cocoon around myself so that I can have a “me time” and transform myself, shedding all the pessimism inside me!

One typical trait of caterpillar really surprises me is that despite 6 pairs of eyes, it has poor eyesight and relies on its antennae for searching food. In order to be safe, caterpillars group themselves in a row, mimicking a snake and fooling the predators.

Some caterpillars also associate themselves with ants in order to seek protection and provide them food as a reward. Now, that’s I call business!

We all are vulnerable, yet unique. We feel inferior, yet are beautiful inside. So, keep the faith, just hold on and fly high.

“Just when the caterpillar thought “I am incapable of moving,” it became a butterfly.” 
― Annette Thomas

THE MESSAGE FROM BRAIN CRAMP!

Have you ever gone to the kitchen but forgotten why have you gone there?
Have you ever broken the egg, spilt it in the wash basin and the eggshell in the frying pan?
You caught the bus for office but got down elsewhere!
In your conversation with your friend, you said some words without understanding the proper meaning of it!

Yes! Such an incident happens in our lives every day and that’s what BRAIN CRAMP is all about.

BRAIN CRAMP is a momentary mental lapse, such as an inability to remember something, to focus one’s attention or to understand something. It is such a condition when our mind is elsewhere and something is forgotten or done incorrectly because of it. A moment in which we fail to think clearly or act sensibly.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you and me are mentally sick people!

In fact, it is just a momentary mental lapse due to our unfocused state of mind, inattentiveness or overconfident thinking. By and large, it is working and talking with a preoccupied mindset.

This Tuesday morning I got a direct bus to my office and as usual, I turned on YouTube to watch my favourite lecture. I was so engrossed in the lecture that I forgot I am on the right bus and need not change it. By the time, I realized it I had left that direct bus, wasted 10 minutes waiting for another bus and had paid extra 10 rupees.

Another day, we were in a serious chat and my friend was deeply hurt by my question. As a matter of fact, I never intended to hurt my friend yet my way of posing the question diluted the tone of my message.

The good news for the people suffering from Brain Cramp (the momentary mental lapse) is, it happens only with the people of healthy mind and the bad news is there is no capsules or tonics for its cure.

Now, the question is – WHERE TO FIND THE HEALING?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

The human being is created with the absoluteness of freedom of thinking and expression though at times it might charge you an arm or a leg. However, the blessing in this disguise is, initially the remote of our thoughts are UNDER OUR CONTROL. All that it asks is tuning properly with the proper channels of our thoughts.

While driving on speed it is obvious to slip off track but eventually, the question is – ARE YOU STEERING BACK TO THE TRACK?

Flopping once off the track is quite obvious and worthwhile to learn but FLOPPING REGULARLY SIGNIFIES OUR DIVERSION FROM OUR FOCUS.

Brain Cramp is obvious in our life and its message is -“Darling, you need an introspection”.

The Bible says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life”.

Keep thinking!

BULLYING – LET’S SEARCH THE TIPPING POINT TO STOP IT!

“Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual”.

Bullying”  term often passed off as “just kidding” is a fatal catalyst that could trigger something as catastrophic as “Suicide ” and I am not “kidding” about it.

Let us see a few statistics (source: hail google)

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC.
  • For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 per cent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 per cent have attempted it.

For the past few days, I have been reading some horrific incidents about how kids mostly in their teens took their lives when cornered by bullies.  That really shook me. I was wondering can it be so strong to push someone to take such a harsh step?  I have too experienced bullying (though it was very short-lived, and at a  very, very young age) I was six at that time, got admission in a new school and my seniors (not in age or class but they were in that school since kindergarten 😁) started bullying me, well sort of! pulling my hair, teasing me, grouping against me and so on.  I told my father about it, he laughed it off (probably because of our age and the age we lived in, that was only innocence) and said make friends with them, everything will be fine.  Though they were never on my friend list things were better and the bullying stopped.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case with many.  And the severity of the issue has also increased by leaps and bounds.  There are a plethora of examples where bullying led victims to take the extreme step. But can bullying be directly proportionate to the suicides we witness?  Can it be so oversimplified?  NO! As I said earlier bullying is a catalyst, when coupled with issues like depression, mental health problems, hopelessness etc. the results are as fatal as Suicides.

So when talking about bullying the aforesaid issues must be touched upon, but who is going to do that?  Awareness is the tool that could hit the nail on the head.

Role Of Parents –   Kids learn from their parents (a lot). The simplest form of bullying – teasing someone based on their physical appearance (body shaming) or calling names, this is something kids many times learn from their parents.  And the sad thing is such things are often dusted off as “for fun”, “was kidding”, “wasn’t serious”, to begin with, and when unchecked that could possibly acquire a monstrous face.  I am just giving an example, just a tip of an iceberg.  Considering this, parents have to be really watchful about their behaviour and words in front of their kids.  Their outlook towards things and people affect and shape the psyche of their kids to a greater extent, if not fully. Rest is all about evolving.  One thing to be remembered: Making fun of others isn’t funny.

Notice, Talk and Listen: This is the Tipping Point that could make all the awareness campaigns work. Reading the silence or unusual symptoms like social withdrawal is the first and foremost step that needs to be taken by family members (read well-wishers, could be beyond family ties).  For instance, if a person who is normally a happy soul, a social person chooses solitude and prefers staying silent, that’s a clue big enough to initiate “Talk“. Many times victims are unable to decide whom to confide to and the pain starts building up and inability to crack their silence leads to the disaster. So reading signs at the right time is of utmost importance.  When the Talk is initiated, compassion and patience is a must.  The victim might not be able to give in at the first attempt, may try to conceal but persistence is the key here. Counselling from professionals is also helpful because they have their own tricks up their sleeve to let the victim release the flow of emotions bound for long.  And when they Talk, it’s important to Listen, to believe them and to respect their vulnerability. There is an ample number of cases when complaints are dismissed with statements like “it happens everywhere “, “don’t be a crybaby”, ” take it as fun” and so on.  Isn’t it enough proof that if a person is getting affected by something, which is “harmless” as per your perception then there is much to look out for or unearth?  Motto may be to instil some courage but rather their words are doing more harm than help.  Words have to be put together with utmost care so as to boost up the confidence of the person getting affected by this bullying business.  And again if someone thinks it’s beyond their capability take the help of a professional.

The “HELP” is meant for both the parties, this is my strong belief.  For the bullies, it is about the right kind of education (not just literacy). Any attempt or sign of being rude to a fellow human being shall be nipped in bud.  For the victims – it is about counselling and emphasizing on the fact “that people who laugh at you are either jealous of you or don’t have a better business. And that already makes you strong, go ahead with this strength “.

APPLE-KNOCKER

Apple-knocker is an expression that doesn’t find a commonplace in the popular lexicon. Oxford Dictionary defines appleknocker as “an unsophisticated person” and Merriam Webster states it simply as “rustic.” The phrase apparently came from fruit harvesters using long sticks to dislodge the hanging crop.

City folks commonly refer to villagers (country folks) as apple-knockers. Though the phrase sounds one shade funny and one shade demeaning, it’s a nice euphemistic addition to the intellectuals’ vocabulary. Well, you may not find an equivalent expression of this English phrase in other languages! But, then that’s the beauty of salad bowl languages!

It’s easy to overlook and undermine an apple-knocker. After all, we do not expect any finesse in their mannerisms! On the other hand, their presence at times makes one feel embarrassed. They sure fit into the place where they hail from. But in sophisticated gatherings and posh localities or in places where people of polished mannerisms operate, they are considered to be out-of-place.

But had it not been for such rustics around us, much of the luxury that we enjoy today might not have been within easy reach. Think of the farmer who sweats in the summer heat to sow and till. Had the sweaty stinky farmer not laboured hard in his field, many would not have food on their table.

While the blue-collar workers are often the most neglected lot in any society, their contribution to keep a household or an organization running is indisputable. The door needs drilling – call the carpenter; the tap needs fixing – call the plumber; the streets need cleaning – hire a sweeper and the list goes on. These are the apple-knockers around us and many-a-times we may be guest to their volley of abusive expletives and stiff-neckedness. However without them around, life would be a lot more cumbersome than our present challenges and commitments already make it.

So yes, as we add this phrase to our vocabularies, let’s exercise caution while treating the apple-knockers around us with the minimum dignity they deserve.