Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.

                                                                    H.W. Longfellow, American Educator & Poet (1807-82)

In the Mahabharatha (one of the two great Indian epics), when Bhishma is dying Krishna asks him to share his knowledge with Pandavas. Knowledge to be transmitted is not technological, how to generate wealth or regulate power, but psychological; about overcoming one’s ambitions and insecurities to derive contentment and become generous.

In a world that is perpetually celebrates productivity and busyness, the art of doing nothing is a sublime pleasure regularly overlooked. Embracing the joy of doing nothing allows one to detach from the incessant whirlwind of obligations and immerse oneself in the luxury of unstructured time. It is during such immersions the mind introspects and explores vast landscapes of imagination.  In one such imagination, I could draw some parallels between nature and different stages of life. My understanding of several abstract concepts which I considered essential for conducting life happened through observation and interactions with different people. Having gone through such process over the last few decades, an idea emerged to draw an analogy between 4S frameworkSeed, Soil, Seasons and Sustainability and lessons that I learnt from life.

According to United Nations estimates about 385,000 babies are born every day around the world.[1] Though to some extent survival rate of babies born can be estimated, it’d not be possible to predict how many will become innovators, professionals, skilled persons, etc. as they grow up. This is similar to millions of seeds being sown, but no one can predict how many will turn out to be trees that will bear tasty fruits. As much as the soil in which the seeds are sown play an important role in the seed becoming a tree,  the environmentfamily and society in which the babies grow play a vital role in their physical and psychological development.

One of the most fascinating and unexpected findings was the role of wind in a tree’s life. Before reaching maturity, many trees in the biosphere snapped under their own weight. Researchers learned later this was caused by lack of stress wood—a wood that forms in place of normal wood as a response to external forces. This necessary mechanical acclimation was lacking in the biosphere trees, preventing them from surviving. There’s an underlying principle at work here. Stress creates resilience. Lack of stress creates weakness. In the case of the biosphere trees, the stress they were missing was wind. Wind doesn’t just blow in one direction, or at one speed. It’s constantly changing directions, slowing down, speeding up—creating an infinite array of forces for the trees to counterbalance against[2]. In the case of human beings also stress develops due to several known and unknown reasons. While limited amount of stress is needed to keep a person alert and conscious, it is equally important that one has to learn managing stress effectively; else it can affect the physical health!

Just as there are four seasons based on earth’s rotation around the sun, we humans go through four stages in life – childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senior adulthood. Each stage has some direct or indirect effect as the person moves on from one stage to another. As much as it is important to understand the soil in which we sow the seeds, it is equally important to understand with whom we associate at different stages of our life. One can as well apply this 4S framework to each of the stages in his / her life also.

Human beings generally work for survival initially and subsequently stability. However, as we grow, it is more important that we understand sustainability in the holistic sense and then arrive at stability. Perhaps, keeping this in mind even United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had developed through its Accelerator Labs Project, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), also known as the global goals. This was adopted by United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Based on 4S Framework I am only making an earnest attempt to share my experiences of getting benefitted from my association with different persons at various stages of my life; initially a few family members, then school / college peers and later on colleagues, business associates and a few others, through my seventy plus years.

In this current era of technological evolution, when human beings work overtime to develop man-like intelligent machines / systems, it is equally important to implement within ourselves another 4S framework – manage Self efficiently, understand Socio-Economic issues, feel Secured and develop Stability. Beyond all this, however intelligent or wealthy or powerful (though all these are relative measures and hence subjective) one may perceive about himself / herself, it is important that he / she realises the truth that nature is supreme and it’d be better to align with it to attain stability!

[1] https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/how-many-babies-are-born-each-day

[2] Scott H Hogan, Built from Broken: A Science-Based Guide to Healing Painful Joints, Preventing Injuries, and Rebuilding Your Body


March 25, 2024 | Ravi 75