They say that man is a 'social animal'. I have often asked myself what this really means. Does it mean that we human beings need to be with and around other people? If so, why? Is it a physical need - for protection, for intimacy, for group strength? Or is it that the need is primarily psychological? Could it be that man's need to interact, love, be loved, understand, be understand, inspire, be inspired is what really makes us 'social animals'?
I know one thing for sure. When I do something that I believe is good, my joy is multplied exponentially when others notice it, and express their appreciation. Especially when those others are my loved ones! Does this make me selfish or take away something from my act doing good? Not at all. In fact, it makes me human.
The need for appreciation and validation is as basic a need as food, air and shelter.
Keeping this in mind, 'Dancing with Tigers' and Lifeschool have launched the #shabaashpune campaign to recognise and spread the stories of young Pune-ites who have gone beyond what would be 'normally' expected from a person of their age. For various reasons, the modern education system often has us in 'studying' mode for up to 22 - 25 years of our life. This is almost a third of our life!
Now don't get me wrong. I do believe that we should keep learning all our lives, and I have nothing against 'studying' mode in principle. Yet, it is worth noting that human beings are the only species that spend one third of their life, learning how to live the remain two-thirds!
By the time we are out of school, we should be able to add a second mode to our life - the 'doing' mode. We could be 'studying' and 'doing'. In fact, when the two are happening together is when 'learning' is really happening. All of us should be able to dedicate some time regularly to an interest, a hobby, a passion, and be able to reach the next level - whatever that may be.
The lives of many great men demonstrate that they started their journey of creativity and discovery much before the time they reached the age of 25. Here are a few examples I could find:
1. Mozart (composer): by the time he was 25, he had written more than 35 symphonies and 14 operas.
2. Theodore Roosevelt (politician): by age 24, had written a highly acclaimed book on The Naval war of 1812, and had already been elected to the New York State Assembly
3. Usain Bolt (100m sprinter): he was just 21 years old when he first broke his first 100m world record
4. Galileo Galilei (scientist & philosopher): had published a book about hydrostatic balance that he had invented at the age of 22
5. Isaac Newton (scientist): completed his annus mirabilis at age 23, and by then had already developed calculus and his theories of gravitation and optics
6. Steve Jobs (technocrat): co-founded Apple at age 21
7. Charlie Chaplin (comedian): by age 25, he had already appeared in 35 films
8. Charles Lindbergh (aviator & inventor): by age 25, had become the first person to fly across the Atlantic
9. Mollie Steimer (social activist): by age 25, she had become the first person to be deported both from the USA and USSR
10. Isaac Asimov (science fiction writer): by 18, he had sold his first short story to Amazing Stories
11. James Joyce (novelist & poet): left his family, his church and his country at age 22, to go to the European continent and become a writer
12. Marie Shelley (novelist): this English novlist wrote Frankenstein at age 20, and it became an instant hit
13. W. B. Yeats (poet): by age 19, he already "lived, breathed, and ate poetry"
14. Jose Marti (cuban independance revolutionary): had his first arrest and exile by age 16
15. Cornelius Vanderbilt (businessman): by age 16, this to be business magnate, had already started a ferry service between New York and Staten Island.
The list can go on and on.
My purpose is not to make us feel belittled. Rather, what we can learn from these and other stories that will soon be presented on our FB page as a part of #shabaashpune, is that we human beings are capable of a lot more than we imagine - even at the young age of 16 or 18 or 20!
You might say, 'Oh, but they were geniuses". But the reality is that they chose an endeavour, made it their passion/obsession and spent their time and energy on it. The fact that they made breakthroughs and became famous is secondary. But, the fact that they committed and invested themselves at an early age, is of tremendous significance.
Right here, right now, there are enough youngsters amongst us in Pune who have shown the dare, the drive and the dedication to work on their dream projects. Be it social change, business, science, creativity or even sports, these young 'doers', have taken action and made progress. Some of them are still in their early stages, while some have already made reasonable progress.
We think these young 'dreaming-doers' need a big SHABAASH from the citizens of Pune! That is exactly we intend to do over the next few weeks.