I looked out of the window. It was raining heavily. I wondered whether it would make any difference to my swimming lessons. I realized that I cannot get wetter after wading into the pool and decided to leave for the swimming class.
Amongst the various helpful suggestions I received after retirement, learning to swim was a logical one. I had also harbored a secret desire to learn to swim for a long time. There is a swimming pool run by the Municipal Corporation close to where I live. I joined there in August, with a brave heart and a wavering confidence, to learn a new largely physical skill.
I have taken the 9.00 a.m. batch. The participants are mainly senior citizens and school children. There is generally a relaxed atmosphere. The children enjoy the pool making us look back to our childhood. The senior compatriots have come mainly for some relaxed exercise. Many just walk up and down the pool as this is also said to be a good exercise. There is less of aggressive swimming on the learner side of the pool which is only four feet in depth. This largely helps in not getting an inferiority complex.
I decided to take a different approach (as compared to past) and initiated conversation with those I meet regularly. Some of them are quite helpful and give helpful tips. Many of them look at my attempts with a practised eye and say that I have improved significantly.
There is great pleasure in going one step further each day. From just trying to flay my legs in the water, I am presently able to swim using hands and legs in a coordinated manner (with the wooden protector around the waist firmly place) This evokes a child like glee within my heart. But there is a long way to go. There is no deadline, nobody to compete with and no specific goals to reach (except what I impose on myself). It is only the enjoyment of performing a new activity just for my own happiness.
Having time on my hands does have its own advantage. There is now time to stand, stare and more importantly hear also. It was a unique experience hearing and learning from my Grandson Shivam on how to swim properly. (He is taught swimming in his school).
I take photographs of whatever catches my eye and put them in my Facebook page. Some of them do get modest appreciation.
Modern technology (Digital Era to quote a famous industrialist and our PM) offers unfailing assistance in time utilisation (gainful or otherwise). Facebook, Youtube and Whatsapp are like multiplex showing latest movies without break and free of charge. You can wade through tonnes of material in Facebook, Youtube and WhatApp for hours together. Many of us can honestly say (to others with similar strengths) that surfing through these applications are our occupation and get away with it.
One question that I often ask myself is what I miss from the earlier life.
The first thing I observed is that the mobile phone does not ring ( except for spam calls). Obviously, that is the primary symbol of severing connections with a large number of individuals connected through employment. There are shared memories of trials and tribulations, good and bad times spent together and a belief that there is a bond with these individuals. All these are like experiences shared during a long rail journey. While the memory remains embedded, the relationship is frozen at the parting moment. So renewing or continuing these relationships in the same form is not possible.
The next is the authority any executive enjoys over co-employees, ability to provide a service or solution and a slot in a hierarchy within an organisation. The loss of this authority and related aspects is akin to the anguish of a baby losing a toy irretrievably. The only difference being the baby can wail loudly and make itself heard. The individual shields the pain of this loss behind a thick velvet curtain. Some where this is balanced by the realization that the price for the above privileges is becoming too expensive in physical and emotional terms and needs to come to an end voluntarily or mandatorily.
But human nature is such that we want best of both the worlds. God smiles and asks us to take a decision and abide by it.
There is a gnawing realisation that while it is easy to while away time doing nothing of consequence, the brain needs more feedstock than wondering what Mr. Arvind Kejriwal is up to in New Delhi. Cerebral challenge unconnected to pecuniary or employment related needs is largely a novel experience for many of us. This requires a change in mindset which is not easy.
This is the real challenge- how to contribute productively to the society which has given so much to all of us. I have some vague ideas which are yet to translate into any concrete form.
God is not bound by the provisions of human laws which stipulate that perishable products should display their expiry date. So He sent us into this world with this aspect being open ended and unknown to us.
May be He is watching us to understand how we are of any use or consequence to our society and the world we live in.