Jul 11, 2009
As group of friends we often go for a small walk post lunch up to the office nursery or the main gate, during which we exchange news, recipes, household tips, all of which provide a respite from the pressures of work. On a hot summer afternoon, as we walked, we saw the garden hose drawn across the driveway from one part of the garden to another. While the others continued walking, I noticed a small spring or jet of water from a miniscule hole in the hose. The weather being hot, I immediately placed my face on the jet and started enjoying the water on my face feeling its coolness percolate deep into my face.
When my friends looked back, they were amused. One commented I was acting childish, another a little senior admonished that I behave my age. A couple of them just looked on at the pipe spring, very conscious of the surroundings though. We then spoke of how we played in water when we were younger, got drenched in rains even as our parents called us in fearing we would catch a cold or fever. One thing was very obvious – most of them liked to play but they resisted the temptation because they felt awfully shy to respond to their impulses which are but natural and spontaneous. The foremost thought that engulfs the mind is – what would the colleagues say? What would the Security staff think? Isn’t playing with water a reflection of childishness now that we have crossed over to adulthood?
We often speak on how excessive fear prevents a person from carrying out the normal chores. For example my mother read about an accident in a hotel escalator a few months back and now she just shudders at the thought of stepping into it any more. A friend of mine had met with an accident in her moped which affected her morale so much that she had to go for counseling in order to make her get into the road once again. It is like someone not breathing anymore for the fear of inhaling polluted air.
Yet, I believe, undue shyness is as harmful as excessive fear as it does not let us behave naturally and normally thereby taking away all the fun from living in the process reducing us to the status of robots.
I commute to office regularly by bus. Most often as I wait for my bus to come, I have sat on the high pavement with my feet on the road and an interesting book in my hands. Once it so happened that I was spotted by my neighbour without by being aware of it. He called on me late in the evening and bombarded me with questions – why were you sitting on the pavement? Could you not take an auto instead? What others might have thought about you? How many others must have seen you sitting there….. etc., etc. – which made me wonder what was so embarrassing about my sitting in the pavement. .
Often I wonder whether we are all hypocrites, saying something and doing something else. On the one hand we admire outgoing and bold people but on the other we hesitate to send our children to co-ed educational institutions or on outings involving students of both sexes. A neighbour of mine refused to send her children to learn swimming because she personally felt she wasn’t comfortable wearing a swim suit. Caution and care are no doubt good and even necessary but undue concern can turn out to be a serious handicap.
Perhaps in a few situations shyness would be expected and even accepted. For instance, a conservative family seeing the prospective bride for the first time would want the girl to behave in a demure way. But if the girl insists on being excessively shy, it would put off a sensible guy.
These days when sex education is included in the academia to familiarize children with the subject of sex, we need to welcome this trend with a broad mind in the larger interests of the students. The word sex should not become taboo for the students unlike the earlier days. Though we are in the 21st century we still stick on to certain accepted norms when it comes anything related to physical needs. The inhibitions related to sex still persist, however faint they may seem to be. For, even now, the pharmacist covers the pack/s of sanitary napkins in black polythene or a newspaper for obvious reasons.
To cut a long story short, restraint and self-control make a well-mannered human being and in turn lead to a dignified society but unreasonable shyness steals the joy and enthusiasm out of life leaving a gaping hole in that place.
He who tries to please all pleases none, goes a popular saying. Life is best lived, when we keep God in the centre and do what our heart tells us. By doing so we don’t harm anyone.
I will not stop jumping into and playing with waves in the beaches or climbing trees if I feel like it, or even squatting on the footpath to caress an abandoned pup or help on her feet a feeble old beggar woman if it means some solace to either, just because someone may say something or someone may laugh at me.
Life is a series of touching moments and it is for us to make the moments more meaningful by filling it with mellifluous notes that can strike a chord and give more meaning to our lives. What better way to do so than to live as per our heart’s bidding?