Before coming to the contents and other details of this book by Robert Fulghum, let me create an atmosphere. Let us do it by phrasing some basic facts (and some queries). You are free to agree or disagree on each point:
1. You will be blind towards the disabilities and weaknesses of your real friend.
2. Every child grows surrounded by obsessions, compulsions, reservations and certain other behaviors around him/her.
3. Genetics, environments and role models play a crucial part during the pre-birth and post-birth growth of a child.
4. There are a lot of free things in life. Don’t grab all. Pick only what is needed. Somebody else might need it urgently what is lying with you but not important at the moment. But prior to that, it is very important to learn what I need in life.
5. I remember more details about my friends and teachers upto secondary level than afterwards. Where in both the cases I have not met them for years.
6. The most interesting lessons about life are taught by our parents and teachers without books.
7. Just try to remember your role model in life and write few lines why you consider so.
8. Who has been your best teacher? (it has to be one, not necessarily the one who formally taught you text books in school/college).
9. Hugs are an important part of life.
10. It is difficult to say “I am sorry”. It is easy to say “You are wrong”.
Book: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” is written by Robert Fulghum in 1986. It is 240 pages book having an interesting compilation of life-lessons explained with short stories & illustrations. The 15th-anniversary print is available for Rs. 750/- (paperback) and around Rs. 1500/- (hardbound). ISBN 034546639X. I bought an older version at CP from a roadside bookseller (lucky I got it for Rs.250/-). The book has been translated to many international languages worldwide.
An excerpt from the book: Robert Fulghum writes in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten – “The inspiration for brevity came to me at a gasoline station. I managed to fill an old car’s tank with super deluxe high-octane go-juice. My old hoppy couldn’t handle it and got the willies–kept sputtering out at intersections and belching going downhill. I understood. My mind and my spirit get like that from time to time. Too much high-content information, and I get the existential willies–keep sputtering out at intersections where life choices must be made and I either know too much or not enough. The examined life is no picnic.”
Lessons from the Book I learnt:
1. Live a balanced life. :Work and Play. Eat and Exercise. Speech and Silence. Pleasure and Prayer. And so on. A lot of things in life need to be balanced.
2. Wash your hands before you eat. N:no explanation required.
3. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Very important. Know what you want. Take what you need and keep till you need. This is one habit that would have avoided all wars happened so far. And are about to come in the future. Be it world wars, Pandavs and Kauravs, Ram and Ravan, India Independence, etc. All arose just because someone wanted to pick somebody else’s things.
4. Share everything. This is something we start doing on our own. When we are very young, no hidings, no differentiations. And no hassles in sharing at that time. Till we grow up and learn what is not to be learnt.
5. Put things back when you found them. Love, hatred, and so on. Run your own imaginations.
6. Play fair. Very important but equally difficult. Try. It returns a lot of happiness.
7. Clean up your own mess.: As and when you are the part of a mess, clear it. Else you will be part of it.
8. Don’t hit people. Hit the cause of pain. You can’t hit the pain directly. Similarly, don’t hit the people. Hit the problem. Philosophy of life is hitting on people will bounce back on you and hit you.
9. Flush. Flush your anger. Bad habits. Wastes. Ill feelings. Keep flushing.
10. Take a nap every afternoon. If not possible, take a break from your regular work. By sitting idle for a while. Blank. Meditate. Relax. Close eyes. And walk a little. As a matter of fact, just give yourself a break.
11. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Enable cookies in your browser. Which makes browsing faster. Jokes apart. Just try fresh, warm cookies. In fact, with cold milk.
12. Learn some. Think some. Draw some Paint. Sing. Dance. Play. And work every day. Don’t hesitate. You can do it. Do it. And see the difference.
13. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone. No need to explain. But only to realize it in time and say. Else it becomes too late sometimes.
14. Be aware of wonder. Firstly, Discover. Secondly, Encounter. Thirdly, Face. Finally, Welcome. And be aware of wonder. A lot of things happen around but go unnoticed. Look around. In fact, wonder may be a perception taking a 360 degrees turn. Or anything else.
15. When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together: how lovely this statement is.
16. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up. As a matter of fact, nobody really knows how or why. But we are all like that. In fact, ponder, think, imagine and explain to yourself.
17. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup. They all die. So do we. That in fact, is the crux of the matter. As a matter of fact, that is the reality of life. Hence, the completion of the lifecycle.
18. Remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned. In fact, the biggest word of all. LOOK. Yep. As a matter of fact, look around. Remember three basics. Firstly, keep eyes and ears open. Secondly, let sensory nerves not sublime under the burdens of life. Thirdly, be light and absorbent every moment.
19. And so on. Moreover, read the book.