Birds and the bees!

In the politically correct language when parents are supposed to talk to their children about sex education, the term “birds and the bees” is used. That reminds me of a joke. A Lord from London goes to Paris with his son for a week. The son has turned 18. After coming back, her ladyship is after the lord to teach their son about the Birds and Bees. Reluctantly he calls his son to his library. He says, “Son, we went to Paris to the night club. We had some drinks and later on met some beautiful ladies. Ahm! Next day, we had breakfast with them and later on went for a swim with them.” The son is confused and said, “Dad, what are you trying to tell me?”. The Lordship says, “That is what the birds and bees do!”

Human has many common traits with other living things. All are born and die. They procreate, eat food, travel, some species migrate. The main difference in humans and others is the development of brain and thumb on the hand. These two make humans different and superior to most species. Species coming closest to humans are monkeys. Humans are supposed to be enhanced version of monkeys.

I was thinking about how advanced we humans are but some things we do, always put me off! Why does the “advanced” brain work awkwardly and nastily these days? Humans tend to look down upon those with “lesser” brains! My favourite activity in the day is to watch birds keeping themselves busy. How do they know where to fly for their food and water? Which GPS are they using to travel back and forth to their destinations every day? Which alarm clock are they using to wake up every day on time? How do they understand the Sun’s movements? How do they understand Equinox and Solstice? Do the non-migratory birds change their daily travel times in line with the Sun’s moves?  How do the migratory birds have advanced GPS to travel thousands of miles, back and forth every year? They also understand Equinox and Solstice. Are they with “lesser” brain?

We can learn many things from other species. With our brains, we should be selective and pick-up good stuff from them. Take for example the Cat. It always tries to cover its poo with something. Some unfortunate humans don’t have access to toilets but they never even try to hide their poo after they are done. The other day I was watching some pigeons. In the next condo, there was an overflow of water on the terrace. The pigeons were making use of the water pool that had formed, to take their bath. But they made sure that water did not splash anywhere. They were doing it in an orderly manner. Pigeons don’t get such poodles every day. Look at the frenzy we have on common water taps. People have been murdered over the fight for the right to collect water on public taps.

I am sure the other species have their fights. There are altercations in humans too! But we humans sometimes cross the limits. I go with my daughter Priya to drop Rhea for school. With Sun’s direction change, the Sun rays on that spot where we wait were very bright. So, we stood inside an apartment complex, a few feet inside their area for shed. A man came, he was a resident there. He started speaking nastily about our entering their premises without permission etc. Priya and Rhea immediately started walking out. On the way out, I said, “Sir, we were standing only to avoid the bright Sun, for the child”! Something clicked in him. He started a tirade which took a nasty direction. It was a monologue which ended with a statement that we were trespassing. I said, “Sir, why don’t you call the Police and register a complaint!” The bus came, and we left that area. Friends, you will be shocked when you know the words he used! I have only written politically correct words.

I am sure the other species have their unwritten rules, which they understand. We see some battles and fights among them about the ownership of the territory. But we brainy humans have made better and or more sensible rules to create better habitat. We have an elementary practice of giving the right of way to the pedestrians, to cross on the zebra crossings. Near our home, we have a zebra crossing, freshly repainted. I was crossing the road, and a motorcycle guy came at a speed. I was indicating to him to slow down. But he shouted at me and said, “Don’t you see I am going at speed, you xxx!” He zipped in front of me.

I have seen the cats feeding the kittens, the birds giving food to their babies! Do they check WhatsApp while feeding them? Are they sometimes late because they have attended kitty parties? Do parents not have time to take their kids to doctors because “Oh! They are in IT!”

I am sure there are some extraordinarily capable and as well as dull species like we have in humans. But to my knowledge, they never fail to do their basic things. The nests they build, the colonies they create, the hives they construct are the classic examples of the essential work done by species. You will never see a bee without a hive, or an ant without the hill unless of course damaged by us smart humans. Why don’t we follow our primary responsibilities? Why do we create a situation where a large group of humans will be homeless? Another large group will be forced to live in poverty? Is it because a small group of people own substantial assets?

Keeping track of our health is in our hands. But we flog our bodies so much that we fall sick. Getting sufficient sleep is one the primary requirement. But we humans are experts in getting less sleep. Only rarely this sleep deficit can be work-related, but mostly it is fun related like partying and drinking. I will share with you how Polar Bears stick with nature’s requirements. Due to extreme cold, they are required to go into hibernation. Scientists have done studies about the sleeping habits of the bears. They found out a fascinating phenomenon. The polar bears in an area go into hibernation precisely at the same time, though they may be dispersed over an area! Going into hibernation at the precisely same time is impressive. Lights out in the army barracks?

The human race has progressed a lot compared to other species. But with these developments, we do some things that cross the limits of wasting time! Syncing with nature and enjoying the fruits of development and research can go hand in hand, provided we want to do it. Let’s be humane and not only humans!

In future, I am sure that whenever the Lordship tells his son about the birds and the bees, he will also say how the other species rest well, how they take care of their young ones, how they do not flog their body to enjoy vices. He will also suggest to his son to be in sync with nature!

Happy Republic Day!

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Value of Ignorance!

 

Ignorance is bliss translates to “ignorantia sit beatitudo” in Latin! But is it true? Unless we humans accept that we do not know many things in this world we cannot become smarter, knowledgeable and wise! 

Everybody in the world is “blessed” with lack of knowledge! The list includes Einstein, Mozart, Chanakya, Tesla and all greats in their field. Ok, I am still sane but I wanted to make a sensational statement. What I am trying to say is that the greats in their field have terrific subject knowledge, maybe the ultimate knowledge but it is limited to their own field. In other areas, their knowledge could be from limited to zero. I am a Metallurgist by training, worked in foundries, business development and marketing area in my career; did reasonable work in the software area. But my knowledge in these fields is limited and in all other fields closer to nil. I am not shy to talk about it. It’s a fact of life.

 

How much can one learn during the lifetime? After you learn something, unless it is tested in real life, you cannot be sure if the knowledge gained is deep enough! So, with exception of a few people, most have the knowledge or are well versed in one to three areas. Rarest of the rare persons will be highly knowledgeable about more than one areas. But what all this indicates or suggests? This suggests that all of us must be humble enough to realize that this is true status in life and have the humility to accept our general lack of knowledge about everything else!  

What could be a way to attempt to correct this situation? First and foremost is the accept this with humility. The second method, I read somewhere recently about it, and I liked it. Someone suggested that you buy as many books as you can, both physical or e-books. These can be on your favourite subject as well as other subjects which you like, but naturally, you are not an expert in. What does this do? This keeps on giving you reminders of how many things you don’t know, we remain humble! At the same time, should the need arise the books can be referred to readily and we will be able to improve our knowledge?

During your career period, you may not really get time to read books but you can always skim through them. But at the same time, a habit must be cultivated to read something every year, every month and every week! Unless you are 100% sure that you are never going to read any of the books that you buy, keep on buying. Till you develop this habit of reading, maybe joining a library can be a good idea!  

Lifelong learning will help you to be happier, and even stay healthier. Plus, plenty of the smartest names in the business, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk, insist that the best way to get smarter is to read. So, what do you do? You go out and buy books, lots of them. 

But life is busy, and intentions are one thing, actions another. Soon you find your shelves (or e-reader) overflowing with titles you intend to read one day, or books you flipped through once but then abandoned. Is this a disaster for your project to become a smarter, wiser person? 

You might want to read up on tricks to squeeze more reading into your hectic life and why it pays to commit a few hours every week to learning. To start the process why not buy a book which will teach you “how to do” about book reading? But after learning this, it is still possible that your book reading in no way keeps pace with your book buying. Your overstuffed library isn’t a sign of failure or ignorance, but it is a sign that you want and hope to delve in the knowledge bank you have with you. Yes! Your library or can it be called “Virtual library”! It is virtual because though it is there it is not there till you access it!  

Are you actually going to read all those books in your lifetime? Of course not, but that isn’t the point of surrounding yourself with so much potential but as-yet-unrealized knowledge. By providing a constant reminder of all the things you don’t know, your library will keep you intellectually hungry and perpetually curious. An ever-growing collection of books you haven’t yet read can do the same for you.  

A private library is not an ego-boosting extension but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as much as your pocket allows you.  You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books.  

The virtual library is a powerful reminder of your limitations — the vast quantity of things you don’t know, half-know, or will one day realize you’re wrong about. By living with that reminder daily you can nudge yourself toward the kind of intellectual humility that improves decision-making and drives learning. 

So, stop worrying yourself for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people. 

At two ends of the spectrum, there are “know all” people and there are “know nothing” people. You and I are in between. Like knowledge of different things, you will realize the real meaning of buying and keeping a large number of books on different subjects.  

“Curiosity killed the cat” is a proverb used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. But in the case of a virtual library that we are talking about, this proverb is not true! Unless you are curious, you won’t feel the urge to know more about different things that we don’t know or areas where your knowledge is limited.

In the current scenario, it makes a lot of sense to understand and know the new things, that are mushrooming around us in IT/Digital area. If we don’t track these things for five years, you will be left far, far behind and will find it difficult to catch up; then you will tend to ignore the subject further because you are left behind. Whether we like it or not, we will have to know about these new things. The situation of being left out is not good. Knowledge about these new IT/Digital things is going to be essential and mandatory. It is going to be like learning of basic reading and writing, of yesterday.

Friends, in pre-modern IT/Digital era, knowledge was essential to remain smarter, knowledgeable and wiser and books have been a major source for that. But post IT/Digital era, this requirement of knowledge update is going to remain but it’s going to be mandatory to continuously update yourself to survive or you may perish! The virtual library in future will be needed to survive! So start downloading or buying those books!