Necessity is the Mother of Invention – आवश्यकता आविष्कार की जननी है (May 2020)

In the majority of the discussions I recently had with family or friends, one particular idiom has been quoted the most. Be it the work environment, schooling from home, shopping with social distancing, modification to daily routines, or interactions with family and friends, people are discovering newer, sometimes novel, ways to cope with the situation. Yes, you may have guessed by now that the topic of this month’s kids’ assignment is idiom ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’ (आवश्यकता आविष्कार की जननी है). But the goal is not to simply talk about abstract inventions or changes; instead, it is to identify the ways that make us stronger, better people and society.

In the last couple of months, one thing all of us have noticed – and experienced too – that humans are quite adaptable. What we could not even fathom in our wildest imaginations has started to seem quite natural. Be it studying or working from home, barely venturing out, and when out, covering faces with masks and maintaining social distance at all costs etc. have become part of life.

Having said that, changing one’s daily routine is not the same as changing oneself. Because humans have an innate need to interact in-person, connect with others, exchange ideas etc., the new normal could be quite taxing on body and emotions. While it looked fine initially, the long-term implications, particularly on physical and mental health, could be far deeper than anyone conceived. Fear, anxiety, boredom, irritability, frustration are some of the negative consequences of the current situation. To cope with this, almost everyone, at personal as well as family level, is inventing ways that suit them. But, at the same time, everyone is also looking for the ways that are easier, effective, and, more importantly, working for others in a similar situation. The essence of this month’s assignment is to hear what ways the hawan families/kids have invented. Let’s learn from each other.

Do you know that the simple act of observing our own situation is quite empowering in itself. By talking about what new systems or ways other kids/families have discovered or invented, we all can benefit.

As such, this month’s topic builds upon the points we have discussed in the last two months. But, now that we have over two months under our belts staying in the modified way of life, we are in a better shape to observe and analyze the situation and talk about the ways we invented or modified to suit our particular needs.

Even if you haven’t already put an explicit framework in place to cope with the current condition, just thinking about your own situation and impact of your actions on it as an observer is quite relieving. It enables you to deal with the situation in a much more calmer and balanced way. You become seer (drishta) than scenery (drishya). When you do not know the difference between the two, you become a part of the drama; whereas, a simple act of changing the perspective (by becoming a viewer) pulls you out of the emotional roller coaster.

To aid your thinking, below are some of the common and not so common techniques people have been employing.

Common Ones:
– Regularly/frequently connecting with friends and family
E.g., Skype, Zoom, other social media outlets
– Pursuing different hobbies
– Exploring long forgotten interests suppressed in
– Trying hidden talents
– Learning new skills
– Reading books that you never found time for
– Playing card games

Not So Common Ones:
– Taking stock of one’s own state of mind (for denial/suppression makes it worse)
With limited physical mobility, the mind becomes overactive. It is critical to understand and steer it in the right direction.
– Learning the ways to improve immunity
E.g., healthy food, hygiene consciousness, breathing exercises (like pranayam), proper sleep
– Initiating collaborative and engaging activities
Particularly the ones done to help larger broader set of people, moving focus from oneself to others
– Learning to observe/change perspectives
E.g., the ability to look for positives in every situation
– Developing empathy
Understanding that others are also going through similar tough times
– Appreciating human-nature relationship
This relationship was known but never appreciated before

While the techniques in the Common category worked in the initial days, they started to lose grip soon. It is the Not So Common category that has started to resonate more now.

Have you experimented with any of the above techniques – particularly in the Not So Common category? What worked and what did not? Did you invent your own ways? If yes, share them. Are there some new/renewed ideas that you like so much that you will continue to live by even after the current situation ends?

The above are some of the points kids will cover in this month’s assignment. They, particularly younger ones, will need your (parents’) help in identifying and articulating the ideas that have emotional value for them. As you discuss it with the kids, please focus on their reactions and emotions. For instance, based upon your observation, you can help them write about what makes them smile or resentful. Apart from the monthly assignment, this exercise will help you profoundly.

Looking forward to hearing from our kids.

Harsh Mendiratta🙏