Learn, Unlearn & Relearn – The Monkey Way of Peeling a Banana.

Few days back in our ship’s gym when I was busy with my shoulder press exercise, one of my crew approached me and showed his interest in joining my daily routine. Happy to see a newbie I asked him to do a warm up session first and then as it was a shoulder day for me told him that we will be targeting shoulder muscles for that day and gave him a 7.5kg dumbbell set. Showed him the correct way of doing the exercise and then just for my curiosity asked him with that weight how much repetition he think he could perform? Giving few seconds thought he answered he could easily target around 400 repetitions.

On board merchant ships we have different cranes for different purposes but one thing is common in all the cranes on board all ships. No matter how much maximum weight they can lift, the permissible amount of weight also known as Safe Working Load is about ¼ of the maximum weight they can lift. Meaning a crane which can easily lift 100 tons of weight is allowed only to lift 25tons weight. This safety factor makes both the crane as well as the operation safe. Not only for cranes but for ropes, shackles, ladders, machineries, equipment like Radars, ECDIS etc – for almost everything on board we have safety parameters set which makes them safe to operate. This sometimes makes me wonder that we have safety parameters set for almost all equipment but in our daily day to day decisions how much buffer do we apply for them to be safe?

Captain Edward Smith, most famous for his role at the helm of the ship Titanic described his forty years of experience at sea – uneventful. He said, “I have never been in an incident of any sort worth speaking about… I never saw a wreck and have never been wrecked, nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.” I believe this forty years of uneventful experience made his ego goes unchecked and with no buffer in his actions might be one of the reasons which resulted in the tragic Titanic tragedy. We always give ourselves the benefit of doubt that sometime our own wish to be true becomes an obstacle in the way of truth. This reminded me of a viral, million time viewed – You Tube video on the correct way or the monkey way of peeling a banana. From our childhood most of us are peeling a banana from the stem and then someone tells you that whole your life you were doing it the wrong way and the correct way to peel is from the bottom and not the stem. Doing the same thing the same way, again and again, doesn’t makes it the correct way of doing it.

The Monkey Way

There is an old fable “The Eagle and the Owl” by Jean De La Fontaine which goes as below:

The eagle and the owl entered into a treaty with one another, each taking a solemn oath that neither would ever harm the chicks of the other. “But do you know what my chicks look like?” asked the mother owl, fearing that the eagle might attack them by mistake. “No,” said the eagle. “Describe them, so that I will know to spare them.” “They cannot be mistaken for any other bird,” returned the proud mother owl. “They are small and ever so beautiful, by far the prettiest of any baby bird.” One evening, while scouting for food, the eagle came upon a nest filled with screeching baby birds. “Surely these do not belong to my friend, the owl,” said the eagle. “No, for hers are things of great beauty, but these are hideous, ugly creatures.” And he swept down and devoured them every one. Returning to her nest, the mother owl found only the feet of her offspring. “How can the eagle have violated our bond?” she asked herself in grief. Did he not hear me describe my little ones as the most beautiful chicks of all?

No doubt every mother thinks that her own children are the prettiest of all. However, if the Owl would have added some buffer while describing her chicks she could have easily saved their lives. On the other hand when a baby Giraffe is born, the mother Giraffe instead of licking the baby gives a kick to the new born. Kicking continues until the baby stands on his own feet. This kicking by her mother, though looks odd but acts like a buffer that allows the baby Giraffe to survive the odds.

Psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy once said, “The Illiterate of the future are not those who cannot read or write. But those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” When children stick their hand inside a jar filled with their favorite candies – they have to check their egos by letting go few candies for their fist to come out. So for those of you who think yourself to be someone, my best advice is to first learn how to peel a banana correctly. Who knows this peeling of Banana correctly will turn out to be the first step of a journey of thousand miles.

By the way, my friend who joined me in my gym routine completed ¼th and a bit more of what he expected and YES – I do miss him in my daily gym routine. Only if he could have added some buffer he wouldn’t have retreated from his commitment. Someone has rightly said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Only when we surrender being right can we find what’s right, after all, there is a difference between “KNOWING GOD” and “KNOWING ABOUT GOD”.

Published by Harsh Pandey

A shapeless Pigmy searching for his own awakening. Otherwise, I am a master mariner, commanding merchant ships on international voyages.

4 thoughts on “Learn, Unlearn & Relearn – The Monkey Way of Peeling a Banana.

  1. I salute the flow you have while articulating the your thoughts…a good read that shows how well read you are….cheers !!!

  2. Wow Harsh!!! So well written. Loved reading it, especially the way you ended it. It is thought provoking.

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