Recently one of my friends shifted to a new apartment. It’s a nice windy place on the 7th floor of a tall building with a spacious balcony. There was only one problem: two pigeons.
On the other side of the frosted window slides of the bathroom were two pigeons. When we tried to scare them away, one flew to a safe distance while the other would just ‘coo’ and shiver. On closer inspection, we realized that the ‘coo’-ing one was hurt on its head. But the wound was not fresh and there were no visible signs that it was hurt in its wings. My friend noticed that the unhurt pigeon would fetch food for the other bird.
Two days passed and my friend was pissed off with the litter the pigeons were making. But the ‘hurt’ bird wouldn’t just fly away.
Pissed with the litter, my friend asked their maid to throw water and scare them away. The maid replied, “I guess the hurt one will fall and die”
To that my friend replied, “I’m sure it can fly. It’s just that it hasn’t yet got the push to make the leap of faith yet. And the other pigeon is not helping it. So throw water at them.”
The maid obliged and guess what: the pigeon flapped its wings and flew away.
Have you ever wondered at the fragility of some young adults in your family? I had.
In all the cases the young kids are spoilt by their over-protective (or may I say obsessive, possessive or worried) guardians. The young ones are so overtly protected from the natural environment that the kid never grow out of their shadows. Over the time, they become very fragile. Have you seen 19 year olds sleeping with their parents? Have you seen 13 year olds who has never ever been to the nearby market alone? Have you seen 16 year olds who’s always escorted by someone from the school bus to home (a distance of 300m)? I’ve seen them all. And it’s sad that we can’t go up to their parents and ask them to stop.
The opposite of fragile is not tough or robust. It’s anti-fragile (a word coined by Taleb). In his own words,
“Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better”.
Like the pigeon who made a transition from fragility to anti-fragility, we should push our loved ones to open their wings and fly. Just give them a push. Let them fly alone.
Don’t worry, they might return with a little bruise, but that’s how they’ll get better.