Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A question and the red fish *****

A friend today forwarded one of the usual corny emails you get from time to time, about happiness and how you should be happy just now rather than waiting for something to happen next. You know; you have read it a dozen times already. I don't know anyone who lives like that permanently, not just once in a while, except maybe Eckhart Tolle, and he doesn't quite count, being ignorant of my existence, even if he were only a few miles away. And I don't think I even know anyone who is constantly trying to live by that principle. If I were to talk to this friend, or any other, it is unlikely that we will be talking of being happy right now. Jobs, children, weather, family, pressures, achievements, food, medicine - any number of things, but not happiness. Just normal 'worldly' talk. We are all, at this stage of our lives, world weary cynics, seeing the world in increasing shades of gray rather than the black and white once visible when very young. We may not be doing anything to alleviate world poverty, or inequality or the arms war; we may not be interested in the energy conundrums or global warming or going green; we may not like to give alms, to be friends with our neighbours, to be tolerant of another's beliefs. But, something like this comes along, a sermon sans a human face, and it still touches us. We read, nod to ourselves, perhaps make a note, and then, pass it on. Why?

Ok, drivel over, and time for the site for today. Poisson rouge. The red fish. A creation of Patric Turner and Edith Furon. This is a really truly wonderful site, currently free although in need of support, so if you like it, do try and send a little something their way for the immensely creative work they are doing. Its a site meant totally for children, to allow them to explore at leisure and own pace, and to encourage the use of mouse - mine got proficient after being stuck on this site for what seemed like ages, but was probably just a few months, of 'red fish! red fish!' squeaked in an excited voice each meal time. The games are nice, and easy, and fun, and there is also a bit of learning tucked in here and there unobtrusively. Here is a description in their own words -

There are no instructions on the site and there are some good reasons for that: most people, even adults, do not read instructions, children who cannot read will ignore written text anyhow, but most importantly for us, there is no need and in fact, instructions get in the way of the experience : the navigation through the various sections of the site is purposefully simple and intuitive, the functionalities within games are carefully thought out to afford a maximum of possibilities while keeping that special relationship to the real World. When small children pick up objects, they invent new ways of holding and using them. Thus there is no right or wrong way of using anything on this site. It's up to the children to find what they want and to grow their naturally exploring mind. We found that what they don't discover straight away, they'll find later, what they don't know how to do at first, they'll learn when they are ready and, as many of you know and/or have found out, that is extremely powerful and confidence building. Having said that, we also found out that adults were quite confused by all that. What? No text? So we have finally decided to give parents who do not have the time to explore - and teachers who are preparing lesson plans - a quick guide to all the games, activities and animations on the site (for those who are wondering there are over 200 of them!)...

Its a website for infants to preschoolers, but I think kids even later will enjoy it simply because of the way it is presented. All kids are curious, and there are no dangers here, everything is clickable, findable. Take a look, and be prepare to be hooked by the fish instead. Here is the url -

Edit 9th Oct. 2008 - I have added another post with more information and more pictures today.

P.S. The forwarded mail, in part, and minus the cartoons appended, read -

"We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough and we'll be more content when they are. After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, when we are able to go on a nice vacation or when we retire. The truth is there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when? Your life will always be filled with challenges.

It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. Happiness is the way.

So, treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with..... and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting
Until your car or home is paid off.
Until you get a new car or home.
Until your kids leave home....."

P.P.S. I just discovered that I hadn't yet explored their link section, which is a recent addition, when they did up their shop. When you have time, you can check those out as well, and I will too :)

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