Thursday, April 29, 2010

I will not repeat myself... I will not repeat myself.... I will

My daughter said ‘ Ma, I think you are getting old. You are repeating yourself. ’

At least one thing was clear, she was listening to me. How else would she know I had repeated myself? That was a good sign. Sometimes, I get the feeling these kids do not listen at all . They ask a question and by the time you collect your thoughts and answer, they are deep in conversation with another or maybe absorbed in a book. So, I am not perturbed about the repetition and neither am I about getting old.

In a column Jonathan Wolff, head of philosophy at University College London, writes … Don't stop me if I've told you this before. We academics live by repeating ourselves. He continues .. that though people crave novelty, they prefer the familiar. Children watch the same videos over and over again. Adults return to familiar music. And some ( also the daughter who made the comment) read a particular book over and over again. Till the book finally fell apart.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant, when in old age and losing his memory, used to write notes of his dinner conservations on the table cloth, in order to avoid introducing the same topic twice in one evening. I cannot do that for fear that they will think ( in their lingo) that I have ‘lost it’.

We are also guilty of  repetitive patterns that become habits. Quite a few that become involuntary becoming a familiar part of our lives. We get three newspapers at home. The other inmate, likes to read them in a particular order and does not like the pattern disturbed. So, I settle for any paper that is not being read. See, I do not get bound by habits .  At least, this particular one.  

Someone suggests that to be more aware of these repetitive things that we do, one should change the pattern. If you brush your teeth and then wash your face, they suggest that you alter the pattern. Wash your face and then brush your teeth. How does this help? The changes, even in these seemingly small insignificant habits, can bring about a better awareness of what is being done. Shift this to more important areas like those patterns at the workplace and this could throw up other choices that might be there. For better results. Well, I would like to think I am too old to try ( it helps using the age factor when it suits you!!), those young(er) can try. 

I have digressed. Repetition can be quite an engrossing subject. For the time being, maybe I should be more aware of what I am saying. Focus and concentrate. If that cannot be avoided. At least, sound wise. Well, Robert Frost could. But for that I have ‘ (And) miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep….'


Would I sound wise if I did say in Latin
Bis repetita non placent ?

o Translation: "Repetitions are not well received


  1. Am I the first?

    Enjoyed reading this, thoroughly.

    I have observed my great grand mother, grandmother and mother go through this annoying habit of repeating everything atleast half a dozen times, to the same person. I will be on the other side someday :-/

    Young children are creatures of habit, I have found this observing P and his peers. Take raisins to the park one evening as his snack, and he wants them the next time we go to the same park four *months* later saying nethikki saaptomae. (we had them yesterday). For him any day in the past = yesterday. Other kids are the same too - Mother bought a packet of gems on a trip to the market one day, she wants gems everytime now. You err once, you regret for ages! Sometimes I find P is very rigid - insists on sitting in the same chair to drink milk.
    But repetition is how children manage to learn so much too. In the west there is a lot of emphasis on routine for babies, it definitely helps new mums who have no family support

    Long comment, as usual!

  2. This is my son's complaint too and he too loses interest when I take time to reply to his query! Youngsters...!

    I myself know that I am repeating the news to the same person twice or sometimes thrice. So now, I have formed the habit of asking ...did I tell you before (naan sonneno munnaadi?!). Now, I notice that my relatives who are 12 years younger to me are repeating the same news twice or thrice to me and I get sooo irritated to hear it out!Hmmmm...

  3. Earlier, sentences would be repeated as children wouldn't understand them in the first instance. Being an adult, I don't like things being repeated to me as I pride myself in processing most information in the first go. Which is the reason behind my irritation.

    From one Cow to the other. Moooooooo. I love you!!!

    The complaining daughter :)

  4. On a connected tangent,I think it was Jiddu who said,'All we do is repeat'. Our story is a bundle of influences repeating itself through us. If we decided not to repeat, would we have anything to say at all?

  5. As we get on in age, repetition becomes a regular component of our conversation. There is so much of experience which we have enjoyed that we would want to share with others. Very often one repeats an incident or event, more to relish that wonderful experience than to inform something new. I like it and if someone thinks I being repetitive... yes I am.

  6. @Vijay: Get your wife to proof read your comments ya :)

    @Ma: You are too funny ya moose. And probably the only reason I haven't noticed your repetition is because as you folks realise by now, I'm usually always doing 2 things when I'm on the phone (typing/reading/working/eating)- which adds weight to your whole "kids don't listen to me" argument. :) But I would not complain about the repetition anyhow. Or so I'd like to believe :)

  7. Kids are very smart and they are very observant

  8. Ha ha! Enjoyed this post!

    Yes, i guess we do tend to repeat what we say as we get older. And this probably annoys younger people, as we ourselves used to get annoyed when we were younger!

  9. Don't we have the habit of repeating what we said? I'm guilty of repeating the same anecdotes several times!

    I have a colleague who repeats the instructions till we drop dead. Sometimes, we have a deadpan expression. So, we started nodding to what he says! But he still repeats the instructions till we drop dead! The problem with too many repetitions is that the audience get bored and finds the speaker to be preachy!

  10. :)

    Super post. Super post. You know..super post !

    Now i should check if i have repeated any of my posts on my own blog.

    The last time i repeated a picture ( with a different story ), a reader pointed it out !

    The chest swelled with pride that people were so keenly following !!!

    But on another note, repetitions are pointed out !


  11. Arundhati - yes the first! And even I did think only grandmothers repeated themselves. Guess, I am getting there soon enough!!
    Kids love repetition. The first instance is when they drop something and you pick it up for them, and it becomes a game - they drop it again and again and again!
    Long comments - no problem, comments really give a different angle to a post. Most welcome.

    Sandhya - we appear to be in the same boat.

    Serendipity - :-)

    Deepak - I am not a Jiddu follower. But this is wise!
    Kruttika - the comment about not listening was mainly about you! but you are not complaining and nor am I!

    Haddock - too smart sometimes?

    Manju - very true. Was it not yesterday that I felt the same way as my daughter?

    Nona - I guess we all are guilty ... but we do tend to be repetitive as we age. You have some time for that!

    Kavi - nice to know readers are alert too! And you have quite a fan following.

  12. very nice post..enjoyed reading it..repeatations help me a lot..coll time pe, I used to buy the worst author books..they always had a habit of putting across one point by going round and this way, they repeated one thing mindset is to read something only once..whatever I remember out of it; I write..but after reading those repeated lines, I got better marks than most

    @ Ksvi, I remember that post..the reader had even given you the URL of the previous post right? :)

  13. Very nice post. I have seen that kids have learnt the art of ignoring people, if they do not want to follow what has been told to them. They just pretend as if they have not heard anything.

  14. your post made me think...sometime i dont have much to talk about as my life is not a very happening one:) and still we are conversing:), so we tend to repeat, and I know how boring it must be for listeners.

  15. Interesting topic for blogging. Never thought in so much detail on this. It was great reading your thoughts and also the interesting comments. :)

  16. Nice post Radha.Gets home to everyone

  17. this one seems to be a global phenomenon

  18. Thanks for dropping by, It led me to your blog. Loved reading the post. Repeating one self is what mothers have to do all the time..its even better than shouting yourself hoarse..

  19. Enjoyed reading this post immensely.

    "Children watch the same videos over and over again." Oh yes, I can relate to that! My daughter insists on watching the same episodes of Barney and Dora over and over again. Not just that she even insists on being read the same story book too :)

  20. @ Short poems - Thanks.
    @ Neha -repeated studying - is boring but gets best results.
    @ Rajesh - yes, kids do that. Don't they?
    @ sm, Indrani, Kallu, Deeps - thanks
    @ Renu - we all have to talk whether something interesting is happening in our lives or not.
    @ Sujatha, India Bazar - Welcome here. Thank you for dropping by.

  21. What a fun post. I enjoyed reading it and the comments. It was fun.

    I repeat myself...


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