Winning or losing do not count, but participation does

I went to a camp just an hour away from Dehradun and realised I want to die when I’m 100 years old, after having worn out my brain cells, but still remembering the national anthem. I guess when I die, I would be face down in the earth, but I would still want to remember the blast of cool mountain air that fills the roof of your mouth, when you wave a fist at the disappearing sun. I have seen some of the wealthiest people in the mountains look like vagrants, because the mountains are made for the young, for the adventurous, for the people with a heart for sport.

When you first enter a camp, it looks like a spartan stage set, but as you settle in, its hums to life and is rife with contact and both animal and human sounds. It is full of intrigues of the wind and weather. It’s when you let the city slip away from you, or you forget the life you have come away from, that is when nature embraces you. It’s when you stop scrabbling for iphones, messages, bills and money, that is when the wind whispers, “it’s okay to let go! It’s okay to just be”. The things that are important to you in a city become less and less important here!

We had gone to conduct a theatre workshop with the teaching faculty of Doon School. Let me tell you, workshops are far more intricate than they seem and are real team exercises. In the beginning, we are all individuals, very wary of letting go and opening up, as theatre requires. We all have little compartments we live in and move in our comfort zones. Never letting the outer facade fall, never letting a stranger in, never letting go. We get so caught up in the ‘what’ we do, that we forget ‘who’ we are. But theatre makes you respond to new thresholds within a short period. You start out on the premise of honesty and then slowly work your way inwards. For hours, all we did was examine ourselves, talk about our strengths and weaknesses, and challenge ourselves. One could feel winter walking down from the mountains, but it would soon be spring again.

I won’t bore you with the exercises and games we played to inspire trust, confidence and communication. What I will share is what Peter (the headmaster) said: “It’s not the winning or losing that counts, it’s the participation”. Teachers are educators who not only teach, but also impact the youth, and make them responsible and self-reliant. When we sort out our own lives and throw out the negatives, we are able to contribute to others and the world at large.

The day I returned to Delhi, I met another principal, Father Carvalho, who shared a thought with me that made me think deeper. He said, education is about teaching everyone to treat others with love and respect, no matter who they are— even if it’s a scooterwallah or your grandparents, or a person of any nationality or religion. At the end of the day, we all seek love from our personal relationships, families, even in terms of world peace. You have to first love yourself and let it grow within your heart, only then will it simply grow and reach out to all living beings.

Even though I am back in Delhi, I still see a glimmer of the mountains every time I shut my eyes. I am happy for our youth who are in more than safe hands with principals like Peter and Father Carvalho who understand the complexity of the human soul.

(The writer is a theatre director and novelist)

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