Anything but the rains

The essence of lifelong learning.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn, Nov 3, 2014.


In an unforgettable song by Sudarshan Faakir, the singer (among whom, most prominently, the late Jagjit Singh) leans back in a moment of contented reflection, and lingers upon what really matters, and what really has made a difference, in life.

Step by step, the singer then finds out that the mathematics of happiness do indeed work in strange ways. You can take away anything, he muses, yes even my youth. It can all go. Grab it. Take it. Good riddance.

Yeh daulat bhi le lo! But please return to me the memories of my childhood: the monsoon rains, my paper boat, the fairy stories told by my grandmother, the centuries I could detect in the wrinkles of her face, my afternoon escapes into the world of wonders around our house, the pain of the time I fell and hurt my wrist, climbing the sand piles on the building site down the alley, my innocent imagination.

Voh kaagaz ki kashti, voh baarish kaa paani. My paper boat. The monsoon rains.

Lo and behold. In a mere six minute whiff, the author of this song has managed to carefully identify the essence of lifelong learning.

(1) Stay as young as you can. Essential learning starts early. Therefore, in later life, the closer the learner can get to being the blank sheet that she was before it all began, the greater the success of any learning track will be.

(2) Essential learning lies embedded within the many folds of a story. PowerPoint bullets will be forgotten. Childhood stories will be remembered. Therefore, storytelling is key to almost every learning event.

(3) Lifelong learning is a process of continuous contrast and exchange. At the learning gate, the wrinkles of the centuries meet the unbiased expectations of young age.

(4) True learning comes with escape. Venture outside the confinement of the enclosure of self-conceitedness, and get into the world of wonders. There is an unshakable relationship between learning and crossing the wall.

(5) For learning to take place, failing is necessary. The never forgotten emotions pertaining to error and failure are the sweet memories on which the learning edifice will be proudly built.

(6) Learning is climbing. Like a booted fell wanderer on rough grounds, the learner uplifts herself with every step – and with every move the scape of yonder unfolds itself somewhat further.

(7) And above all: lifelong learning is a synonym of immaculate imagination. If the true learner’s spirit is burning within your soul – then be that person, for whom everything is possible, everything is the future, everything is there for you to discover.