WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO?
Fourteenth in the series of alternative learning from Krav Maga.
(The opinions/interpretations mentioned are solely mine.)
I am Raji, and I love summer holidays. I get to spend time with my grandparents. They lived on the outskirts of a rural town in Tamil Nadu.
An old house with gardens in the front and the back. A mango tree on the side where I had a home-rigged rope swing. A large well at the end of the house, always full as far as I can remember.
The verandah in the front was the favourite spot for my grandfather. He would sit there with the newspaper in hand — a lovely relaxing easy chair with an option for an extendable footrest. The wood had a shine of use and care. Him, with his pencil, poring over the crossword!
My grandmother used to go about her routine. A routine, which had minor adjustments to accommodate me! Their favourite grandkid. I was the only one!!!
I loved watching my grandma go about her ways. A relaxed but steady rhythm to whatever she did — a purpose.
It was in the afternoons when she took her break. Napping, reading a magazine, stringing flowers together, and patting my head as I rested on her lap.
One such day, I was in a talkative mood and wanted to know why she does things. She asked me to ask the questions, one by one! She was well educated and mixed tradition with her own views on the reasons behind certain practices.
Why Patti (grandmother)? Why? Why do you get up so early and put a Kolam (a drawing with powdered rice) in front of the house?
Getting up early is good for our senses and concentration. Washing and cleaning is a physical exercise but it is also symbolic — to clean our mind of the accumulated dirt from yesterday. When we bend down to clean and mop the floor in the front of the house, isn’t that similar to the stretching exercises or warm-up routine as your mom calls it!
A clean entrance is to welcome people to the house. The powdered rice Kolam is to ensure there is food for ants and small beings. That way, they get their food outside the house and don’t need to enter!!!
The designs for the Kolam also varies day to day. Smaller ones for regular days and large ones for special days. That prods our creative cells; this is design.
Why do you light a lamp in the morning?
To dispel the darkness, of course, but also to light a lamp in our minds. To stay away from negativity and spread light in the house and the neighbourhood.
It is a practice.
Why do you walk around a sacred plant at the back of the house?
Again, a part of two routines. One is respecting nature and ensuring we water the plants and pay obeisance to our supplier. The Tulasi plant is representative of nature. The other routine, a part of my morning walkabout.
Why do you light incense sticks?
It is a preparation for meditation. An external triggers that tells us that it is time to focus within. To oneself and the greater power above.
We light the lamp and follow it up with lighting the incense sticks. Some say it is an offering to god. I say it is to myself.
It prepares me to get into my zone.
Why do you meditate?
There are several ways to do it. Some pray, some chant, some remain silent to each her own.
That moment in the morning is mine alone. Nobody disturbs me. I sit, close my eyes, and lose myself in the light. Sometimes I keep my eyes open and focus on the lamp.
It is to bring my thoughts together as I prepare for the long day ahead.
You finish cooking, and the first thing you do is keep some food for the crows. Why?
The same reason as the Kolam, though there are different interpretations. Some say that our forefathers come back to earth in the form of crows, and this is our way to thank them. I think the real reason is giving our thanks to nature and sharing our food with other beings.
A simple act of sharing to provide food and sometimes spread joy. Don’t you feel good when the crows come and eat as soon as you put that food? It is a routine for them as well. They know my schedule. Your grandfather jokes that they plan their day around my cooking timings!
I have noticed that some afternoons you sit and write the god’s name in a notebook. The same phrase again and again. Why?
It is a form of meditation for me. When you sit and write, there is no other distraction. You focus on the words and writing. Repetition makes one get into a zone. Nowadays, you call it mindfulness. Doing things knowing full well what you are doing, and doing that task the best way possible.
It gives me focus.
Why do you tell so many stories? How do you know so many?
Stories. What my grandmother told me, I tell you. Raji, you know you are named after me. That is another tradition. I believe it is related to the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation. You are named after me and would want to know more about the person you are named after! Doesn’t that create a story in itself? The telling of stories from generation to generation is a legacy.
No kid likes advice. No adult does either. When you don’t take your medicine, I sometimes put that medicine inside a bank and feed it. Sometimes the tablet is powdered and mixed with the corn flakes you have in the morning! You don’t realize, but it gets into your system.
Stories have the same power. Doesn’t every story end with a moral? Don’t some episodes have open endings, sparking a debate between you and me?
Some stories provide lessons for the young and old. Others spur and prod us to think and arrive at our conclusions and interpretations. I hear a story. That story gets embellished with my newer learning and views. When I tell that to you, it becomes my narrative of that story, isn’t it? So, a bit of me becomes a part of that story — the legacy that we leave behind for you and your grandkids.
Why lights off by 9?
You know this Raji. Early to bed, early to rise. Our human body is meant to be a daylight system. We awake and the crack of dawn and wind down as the sun goes down. It has been so for generations. Lights off by 9 ensures you get a full night’s sleep to restart your routine tomorrow.
Why this routine?
Why? It is a practice. It is in this practice and minor adjustments that we train ourselves to get things done.
Some elements of routine include external triggers like the lighting and smell of the incense sticks. It is meant as a prelude to a task.
Exercise is built into everything that I do: whether it is bending and stretching for the Kolam, walking around the sapling, or sitting down to meditate. Various body parts are also put to the task.
We learn by observing others, repeating the task, correcting the errors, and doing it again.
Practice, then, makes it perfect. We visualize it and then execute it physically.
A simple act of practicing the Kolam every day gives me the confidence to put one of any size, given the floor space and the occasion.
When something is made inherent to our practice, it becomes seamless and comes naturally.
I was giddy with all the answers. It made sense to me then, when I was a young girl. It makes a lot more sense now. Some lessons, like wine, age well with time. These lessons from my grandmother’s practice are helping me now, in my career.
And in dealing with the questions that are coming from my grandkids!
If you are not practicing enough, you’ll get screwed in real life: Krav Maga
You need to know the moves. You need to practice the moves. When push comes to shove, you need to know which move to make without overthinking it.
It is like driving a car. When you are learning, you continuously think about which to press, the accelerator or the clutch, or which gear to select if you are driving a manual shift. After some time, though, it becomes inherent that you don’t think too much about it.
What is your marketing routine?
What is that routine for the day, week, and month? Do you know?
Have you stopped back and analyzed?
What are you practicing for?
Why do you do what you do?
What does it get you ready for?
Does it need to be done?
If so, how can it be bettered with practice?
You are what you do every day!
— — — —
This is the fourteenth in the series of learning from Krav Maga.
- A fully extended arm is useless
- Find the weak spot
- Violence: Avoid it as much as possible!
- You many not have started the fight, BUT
- The meditating monk
- The only mindset that counts
- Action Reaction
- When DONE is DONE! Is it ever?
- Which shoe to buy? I have several!
- Can you escape career quicksand?
- Anger Anger
- Show as little as possible
- The need for an Outlier coach
Pravin Shekar is an outlier marketer, parallel entrepreneur and a raconteur.
mic @ PravinShekar.com .
For creative collusions, join: http://bit.ly/JoinMyOutlierTribe
Pravin is the author of seven books: Devil Does Care, Marketing lessons from Mythology, Getting paid to speak, a Virtual Summit Playbook, Climb your way out of hell & a collection of travel pics/romantic poems, and stories from the heart!
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