Why learning something is often less painful than complaining about learning it

I don’t know how to drape a sari and hence, dressing up for weddings is often painful. The pain usually kicks in before weddings. The cycle begins with me complaining about not knowing how to drape a sari and moaning that no one really taught me (our mothers were also never taught just for the record, but they all know how to wear a sari). This is followed by me trying to find someone who will help me drape it. Even when someone helps me wear it, I have no idea about what directions I should give the sari-draper. And, often I miss crucial details, and then I’m forced to walk around with a badly worn sari at weddings.

This recently happened to me. I had to go to a salon to get dressed for a wedding, and I was required to go quite early. As I sleepily went to the salon early in the morning, I realized this was my punishment for not knowing how to do something so simple. After I came home, I realized that the sari was too high, and my under-skirt could be seen. It was too late then, as I would need to take apart all the pins and start all over again. The entire wedding I spent walking a few steps, and then stopping to adjust the end of my sari. Often, I would try and walk at a snail’s pace, with people wondering whether I’ve stopped completely or am still moving. A lot of time, my poor husband had to keep dragging down my sari. It was sad and painful, and to be honest, kind of pathetic.

Hence, I’ve now decided that I’m going to learn how to drape a sari so that I never have to go to a salon again to get dressed for a wedding. I figured it’s just about watching a few videos online, and I’ll get the hang of it. However, this whole incident got me thinking about why I was so reluctant to just learn the process, rather than continue to complain about it. I realized it was mostly a case of inertia. Often, it’s just easier to keep going on in the same way rather than make a change which would make our lives simpler. Learning how to wear a sari will take me roughly an hour, and I’ve probably spent days just complaining about this.   

This also made me remember about the time when I learnt how to cook rice. For a long time, I didn’t know how to cook rice, and every time, our cook didn’t come, I would just order in. The whole process takes much longer and is more expensive. However, I was just too lazy to learn. And, then one day I learnt how easy it is to make rice. And, then I spent a long while feeling quite silly. I feel the same way about most dishes now which I’ve learnt to make. For a long while, something like chicken curry or biryani seemed like dishes I would never be able to fathom, let alone make. And then one day I just googled and learnt them up. And, they are so simple to make. It’s a lot healthier to cook at home, and a lot cheaper. Of course, I’m still learning but now I’m able to put together something basic and edible. And, previously, I would just spend so much time complaining if there was no food at home.

Oh, and one other thing. I was writing this article on a flight, and I realized there’s one other thing we should learn. When the flight comes to a stop, I see that close to 90% of the passengers stand up and start trampling over one another to get their luggage down. I wish everyone would just learn that this is futile and save themselves the pain of standing up and crowding around, and just wait for a while till the doors open up and everyone can leave in a civilized manner. Just another example of how we don’t wish to learn something which can make our lives simpler, and we continue to behave in a silly manner because that’s the status quo. 

It’s usually difficult to just stop complaining and get something done. Because, we’re so used to the status quo, we find it difficult to break out of our inertia and do something. It’s similar in most areas of life. We complain about traffic but won’t try making it to office a little earlier. We won’t learn to sleep a little earlier so that we can wake up a little earlier. It’s difficult to change and none of these habits will change overnight. However, it’s important to at least be aware of these shortcomings in all of us. Only when we realize that we can learn something, and make our lives a little simpler, will we go forward and do it and stop complaining. But, before we attain nirvana, we must know that we need nirvana. And, hence realization is the key to making a change in our lives. 

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