Friday, November 10, 2017

18. No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!

I happened to watch a video on the nursery rhyme 'Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,' while showing it to my granddaughter.

When I was a kid, there were no nursery rhymes. So I find the rhymes always interesting. I have worked with the rhymes when my children were kids and I  have been  working with the rhymes again along with my grand daughter. From no rhymes for me, through reading and reciting rhymes for my children to watching and listening to the rhymes now along with my granddaughter now, the experience has been varying.

I am also hearing a number of new rhymes thanks to the proliferation of rhymes in the form of youtube videos. One of them is 'No more monkeys jumping on the bed.'

I am sure that most of the people who read this post would be familiar with this rhyme. Still for the benefit of a few people like me who may not be updated on rhymes like this, I  give below the first stanza of this rhyme.

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor
And the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed.

But the story doesn't end here. No one pays heed to the doctor's warning. The remaining four monkeys jump on the bed again and the story repeats itself. Replace the word 'Five,' with 'Four,' 'Three.' 'Two,' and 'One' and you will get the remaining stanzas. The only difference is in the last line of the last stanza.

And the doctor said,
Put those monkeys right to bed.

Listening to this rhyme and watching it on the video quite a few times along with my granddaughter made me wonder whether we are also not like these monkeys.

The monkeys see one of them falling down  and getting its head hurt. They are also cautioned by the doctor. Yet they continue to jump! Why don't they learn from what happened to one of them and  become more prudent?

Is it complacency? Is it a nonchalant attitude 'this won't happen to me?' Is it the arrogant self -assurance 'I am cleverer than others?' Is it a blind belief in luck? Is it a proclivity to take risks even when there is no need?

It could be any of the above, a combination of the above or some other reason like the above.

Monkeys can't think - at least not as rationally as human beings can. So we can understand monkeys  continuing to do what they were doing without learning any lessons from the experience of others.

But, we rational human beings also behave like this. We don't draw lessons from the experience of others.

We see accidents happening due to rash driving or drunken driving. But we also indulge in such practices.

We see people falling prey to the same kind of pranks and frauds again and again.

There are many such commissions and omissions.

Why do these things happen? Why do people fail to learn the right lessons from the experiences of other people?

It is is for the individuals  to ponder why we do what we do and why we wouldn't change ourselves using the inputs we receive from the experiences of other people.

There is also a more fundamental question. Leave alone the failure to  learn from others' experiences. Do we learn from our own experiences?

A person takes up an activity. He encounters a failure. After sometime, he does the same thing and gets the same result. He will do the same thing again after sometime and so on.

This may be about trying to make money in the stock market, starting a new activity only to abandon it after sometime, trying to develop a new relationship, trying to get even with our rivals, enemies or adversaries etc.

I can think of many instances where I have acted this way.  Pondering over the deeper meaning of  this rhyme has made me realize that in future I should be wary of doing things without considering my past experience and the experience of other people.

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