Sunday, October 17, 2010
A Cooling Sun
A few days ago, I walked into my colleague H's cabin to chat about some usual work-related stuff, when I noticed a couple of oil-pastel pictures pinned on his soft-board, undoubtedly made by his daughter, who is probably 5 or 6 years old. For a moment, I forgot everything about work as I looked at them, a sense of happiness creeping over me, as can only be experienced by observing something that a child does. I don't know if you agree with me, but I find that there's something incredible about the innocence and intensity in a child's art-work... every line, every scrawl is made with so much effort as little fingers pour thoughts, feelings and spirit onto a piece of paper. It's something that us "grown-ups" could probably learn a few things from!
So anyway, having observed the picture, I simply had to go ahead and ask the oh-so-obvious question... "H, has your daughter made these pictures?"
My answer was preceded by a big smile that lit up H's face as he turned for a moment to look at the pictures I was referring to. "Yup!" he said. "The first one she made when she was three, and the second one when she was four." The affection and pride in his voice was crystal clear. It was impossible to resist stepping up for a closer look at the pictures.
The first picture was the one you see attached in this post. On first glance, a bright, smiling sun... something you see in most childrens' drawing books, probably the most common archetype of light, life and happiness that exists today. In this picture too, the image of the sun had all the known markers, a bright yellow fill, a pair of eyes, a little nose and a happy smile. But the rays were strangely different... they were blue, when you'd usually expect yellow or orange or red, right? I stared at them for a while, trying to figure out whether they were supposed to relate to the morning sky or some such thing, when H noticed my interest and helped me with the meaning.
He said that when he asked his daughter about why the sun had been coloured in this manner, she told him a couple of things... and this is when she was about three years old. She said that the sun had to be yellow because that's how it looks in the sky... OK, pretty good so far. But the rays were blue, she said, because while the sun should give light... it shouldn't make things hot! At this point, I was COMPLETELY bowled over! What an incredible thought in such a young mind! She expressed through her colouring, her simple desire for there to be light, but no blistering heat so typical of the Indian summer. Equally interesting was her associating the colour blue with coolness, at a time when it was unlikely that any direct attempts had been made to teach her to relate colors with sensations.
You know, I'm no fan of summer or heat... I can't stand perspiring and I much prefer feeling cold to feeling hot. I've often complained about the fact that the entire planet is not cooled by Carrier ACs! But in this picture I saw a child's idea of how she thought the earth could be air conditioned... just by a sun that gives you light but also provides cooling!
Now, a part of my adult mind is screaming that this is not possible because of various "scientific" reasons, but the child in me is busily socking that part into submission, telling it to take a "chill-pill" and probably think about getting some chocolate! Science be damned... just the thought behind her picture is enough to make me think that we're probably born as lateral thinkers, but as we grow older, we have to pay hundreds of thousands of bucks to a few people who try and teach us to be that way again! When does the conditioning set in? When does our ability to think without boundaries, love without constraints, dream without restraint really get terminated? When do we give up the freedom that exists in a child's mind? ... and WHY... why do we allow any of this to happen?
The answers are sort of there for us ... it's not really in our control, it's in societal and familial conditioning, the education system etc. etc. But are these really good enough reasons? Maybe it's time to take a call about when and whether we want our kids to become "adults"... think about it and let me know your thoughts :)