Have an Alert New Year

Dec, 2010

I lecture my kids a lot. I know because they tell me so.

In my defense, I'd like to say that the rules I wish them to abide by are simple and that my lectures are just variations on three elementary themes: 

Be Alert
Be Kind
Be Brave

Of the above, alertness has been more on my mind lately. 

Often, when leaving a restaurant or mall with my family, I'd take a deliberately circuitous route back to the car and they would mindlessly follow as I mischievously zigged and zagged my way all over the parking lot. They had not taken note of where we'd parked or that I was leading them in circles. When they discover the ruse, they complain that I'm wasting time and I enjoin them to be more alert.

But alertness isn't just about remembering where we parked or to avoid mindlessly following the guy in front, or even about dangers to watch out for, though all that is important. Alertness is also about noticing the beauty and hilarity that surrounds us, attentiveness to others' needs and feelings as well as being aware of our own motivations and weaknesses and strengths. These are some of the alertness issues I've been working on when lecturing my kids. 

There's a a dog park where my kids and I take our dogs. Once I showed my daughter, Abia how our dog would urinate right over the area where another dog had just done so, and how the other dog, seeing this, would return to urinate over that and how this would go on till one of the dogs ran out of urine. A real pissing contest. Abia volunteers for a dog shelter and had actually seen this without ever really noticing it or the hilarity of it. "That's because you're not alert," I said.

So, be alert— you never know what you might miss.

Have a Happy (and alert) New Year.

Gaurang Thakkar

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