A metallurgist like me would be thrilled if I can develop material that is both Malleable and Brittle at the same time. These are different properties for an item, but if we consider a human being, then these properties are called traits. The term malleable, when used regarding metal or other material, is a property to be able to be hammered or pressed into shape without breaking or cracking. The meaning of Brittle is hard but liable to break easily.
Humans achieve these traits over a period. When a human becomes malleable, he is said to be a mature person. Does this sound familiar in life? For humans to come out of the mother’s womb flexibility is the trait that is needed. Flexibility is not the same as malleability, but it is quite similar. For a Metallurgist, malleability is better than brittleness. In life too, it is the same.
Various traits together make our personality. Sometimes we try to improve knowingly and many times unknowingly. In my childhood, my father and mother used to make me attend to various small chores at home. Sometimes I would be happy that they thought that I am responsible enough, though I may have been in the 5th or 6th grade. If these chores clashed with my playing time, I used to be upset. But later I realised that everything has its place in life. Switching to not so important an activity (importance in my view) was more crucial for my persona and family. I understood as I grew up that it was called shouldering the responsibility.
Our families and society are designed to teach the importance of responsibility. Children get their quota of bedtime stories from their parents and if they are lucky, from their grandparents. Bedtime stories are told or read at bedtime. In the changing world, the timing changes but the meaning behind stories remains the same. These days Jaya tells a story a day to our granddaughter Rhea who lives in Montreal, Canada. Because of the time difference, the story-time is 9.30 am their time; Rhea has summer/Corona holiday for her school. As the kids grow, the change in their thought process is fascinating. For Rhea too, the subjects for stories changed over a period. Initially, the stories would be about God and fairies, and then the stories from fables, that always ended with “So what is the moral of the story?” Rhea graduated and told Jaya one day to stop telling “moral” stories. To Jaya’s horror, Rhea wanted “horror” stories!
When Jaya checked up with our daughter Priya, she said, “Rhea has just heard the word horror from friends and does not have the concept of horror!” Horror stories were only for the novelty. An essential aspect of this is that Priya ensured that the word fear was never brought into the discussion. It was a necessary lesson not to introduce word fear. A human may learn that feeling at some stage, but children should never be exposed to such feelings.
I will tell you two stories. In our culture, we introduce fear in the minds of children through our behaviour. In India, finding cockroaches and reptiles like a gecko in homes and public places is routine, once in a while. These are harmless creatures, but some families have a culture where the children start getting extremely scared when they see these creatures. My daughter Priya must have been three years old at that time. We had gone to a public library, and I was looking for some book. I suddenly heard a commotion. I turned and saw a biggish cockroach moving towards Priya. All the ladies in the library were scared and making the commotion. I just nodded to Priya, who removed one of her shoes, killed the cockroach and put it in a trash basket.
Story two. A friend had come to our house for a post-dinner coffee at 9.30 pm. There came a phone call which I received. Friend’s daughter was hysterical and said, “Please send my parents back.” I asked her what the matter was. She was a 25-year-old lady, and her twin sisters were 20-year-olds. All were hysterical because a gecko was creeping on the wall. They had taken this trait from their mother. My friend and his wife immediately left without even finishing their coffee.
The moral of the story, I know Rhea does not like “moral” stories now, is not to introduce children to unnecessary fears. But fear is only one feeling I am talking about. Life is like a boxing match or a cricket match. Sometimes you get it on the Chin, but you have to accept it gamely and move on. Every time if you give up or retire when you get hit on your Chin, you will retire from your life very early. Taking it on the Chin is a part of growing up. It is part of the process of slowly becoming malleable, rather than remaining brittle. Ultimately it is your life. There are going to be ups and downs. There will be wins and losses.
Taking it gamely on the Chin could include not being able to take the course you wanted. It could be losing your fiancé to someone else. It could be losing a job or facing a loss in business at a critical juncture in life. It could even be a critical illness or death of dear ones. In terms of metallurgical processes, you can make a thin wire or sheet from a large block of metal only if the metal is malleable enough. It is done by hammering or stretching. The method introduces stress in the metal; take a break and put that metal for tempering or annealing as the malleable metal becomes hard or brittle after hammering. In our lives, whether we like it or not, some situations will put you under the proverbial “situational hammer” that is going to strike you. Tempers are going to be frayed! The automatic reaction is to harden our stance but is it going to help? Using the other meaning of the word temper, we have to put our hardened thoughts into a tempering furnace and become malleable again.
The brittleness will cause numerous damages to the situation and our mind. Friends may pass a nasty remark, without understanding your side. But if you are malleable, it is going to help you. If you are brittle, you are going to be shattered like glass.
Friends, if you are not sure if you are Malleable or Brittle in real life, do not come to a metallurgist like me. Go to someone kind, who shows empathy and is not be judgemental while being a good listener. I had mentioned in a blog published sometime back, how this can be handled.
All of us have that Personal ATM in our life. We should look for that person and try to find the PATM. We go to an ATM when we need some cash. But the money we can withdraw is limited by bank rules and the balance in your account. Friends, do not forget that Personal ATM has an unlimited balance, and you have an active card ready to withdraw. Look around, and you will find yours. The person will guide you to become that rounded and a mature person! And, of course, malleable enough!
PATM blog link is given below.