Monday, October 22, 2007

Thought For The Day.

“The more complex our lives get, the more the simpler things make sense.”


Back in school (classes 3-4 to perhaps 8), we had the concept of a “Thought for the day”. During the morning/post-lunch assemblies, a student from an assigned class would come up on the stage and say a “Thought for the day” (TFTD), with a hurried thank you. Most of the times, the TFTD would be said with such hurry that the crowd standing at the end wouldn’t even understand. The TFTD thing was not just restricted to the mass congregations. The monitor/class leader of the class had the duty to assign specific people to write out on the blackboard the date, the subject to be taught (in that particular period), the total number of students, the number of absentees, along with a beautifully written TFTD in different colors of chalk. While no one but the teacher or the class monitor writing out the names of the miscreants who talked or made mischief in class were allowed to touch the chalk and the duster, it was an honor to have the right to use a part of the board (a little part though) to decorate and write things.

Apart from that, the class was divided into 4 houses of four colors and each house took turns to make charts out of white paper that would be hung on the walls. While most of them were the diagrams of the plant and animal cells, the pulleys, the map of India, the solar system, or the pictures of historical figures cut and pasted, some of these charts had different proverbs and saying written on them. It was during the chart making sessions that the artistic boy/girl of the class was in great demand, and like many people who “outsourced” talents, I would make my dad spend sleepless nights making charts of plant cells and trees and scenic beauties to get that extra bit of credit apart from the amount I got for being a diligent, non-troublesome student.

However, I must admit that most of these TFTDs never made much sense to me. Even if I understood what it meant, I would often fail to see the meaning in the broader picture of things. I once saw a board hanging with “Time is Money” carved artistically into it. I kept wondering how time could be money till after many years when I started to realize the value of time, not just while making it to an appointment or submitting a deadline, but in the broader context of things. “Honesty is the best policy” was another very common TFTD. Then there were the ones like “Talk less, work more”, “Speech is silver, silence is golden”, “God helps those who helps themselves”, etc. I once got hold of a new TFTD from some magazine which was far different from the usual ones, and while I understood nothing of the meaning, I had proudly scribbled the TFTD on the blackboard while struggling with the correct spellings of “possessor” in “Ambition destroys its possessor”. I was in the 4th class then, and even pronouncing the last word has been a pain, let alone spell it right or even understand it. The teacher had looked at the board impressed and had asked me if I had written that. I had beamed in pride. Its just that I never really understood the meaning of it.

Thoughts… thoughts for the days. Thoughts for life. It is after years that the meanings of those TFTDs scribbled on the board or on large white chart papers began to make sense. And it was amazing how the simpler the thought was, the more profound it had its impact on life. “Talk less work more”. There was a time I never realized why were the teachers in class hell bent on making us talk less, or work more. It is now, in the age of telephones and freedom that I realize how important those lines are. I am not belittling the importance of speech, but if you calculated the number of hours you spent on the phone, or even talked about inconsequential stuff, you’d be surprised how much more time you could have spent working. For once, I consciously started keeping a tab on the number of hours I spend on the phone talking about inconsequential stuff, and consciously made an effort to talk to people only when it was absolutely necessary. I was amazed how I breezed through the whole day almost without the need to talk. That day when I accidentally left the phone in the lab, I was so relieved in a way because I didn't have to answer phone calls or itch to call people. I'm sure I could do with a 60% reduction of words I spoke everyday.

Another TFTD that had a powerful impact on me was, “God helps those who help themselves”. Let me not get into the conflict of the debatable issue of the existence of God, but assuming that there was God, I strongly agree that you can see through any situation simply by being proactive in what you do, and by not letting yourself be carried away with the confusions and options of life. Why is it that I can’t study and remember one whole chapter for a month, but come exams, and I can easily finish off 10 chapters in 5 days? This is what I call “helping myself”.

“Live and let live”, “Respect your elders”, “Greenery is the best scenery”, “Make hay while the sun shines”, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”, “Time is money”, “Silence is golden”, “Work hard”, there are hundreds of these simple sentences popping up in my mind now, simple words that didn’t make sense then, but that will determine what I become (or do not become) in life. And as I reiterate the importance of time and the necessity to talk less and work more, I hope I would live up to the resolutions of spending fewer hours on the phone, stalking people on Orkut, sleeping a little less, being less bothered about inconsequential stuff like who married whom and who broke up with whom, and being more focused towards the things I am good at. Like I said-

“The more complex our lives get, the more the simpler things make sense.”

Oh, the joy of coming up with a self-created TFTD. 



Anamika said...

Your post brought back memories of my school days and I am feeling nostalgic. I have to admit those TFTDs never made sense to me either. We had another ritual at our school - news reading. After the prayers, the chosen one would come up on stage and read a few headlines from the newspaper. I used to do this once a week and never understood what I was reading!

Thanks for a lovely post. And I completely agree with your TFTD.

Dust Unsettled said...

Very nicely written. After reading I felt quite a bit nostalgic about those good-old-school-days. I think the most memorable TFTD I heard in my school days was that of Mother Teresa - "If you judge people, you will have no time to love them". How simple but how true.

M said...

Just loved this post, sunshine! And yeah, things that dint make sense earlier now make a lot of it sometimes :) and btw, that monkey TTD was simply hilarious :-)))

Himank Sharma said...

This post sure brought memories of school days... In our school there used to be a blackboard incharge for writing all this stuff... and i was made that once.. and being the lazy ass i am.. The blackboard always ended with quotaions like "God is one", "Love all, hate none ", always minimising the work.. :P

Shanks_P said...

Great post Sunshine .....

One thought .....
when the monkey on the top looks down, he sees a tree full of smiling 'MONKEYS' :D ....

As i was tall, i had the oppurtunity to write TFDF in my shcool which prolonged until by engineering days ......

The one i liked most is... The person standing with the back facing this black board does not know what he is muttering neither do the other 45 people staring at him facing the blackboard ..... :)

sunshine said...

anamika- Yeah, how can I forget about the newsreading stuff? That one too.

dust unsettled- I am glad. And that is a unique saying of Mother Teresa. So true.

m- hehe, I am glad.

himank- haha. Frankly, I'd do anything to be given a chance to be close to the board. Later, I realised I am better off away from the mess of chalk dust.

shanks- haha, that was the TFTD? Wow !!!