I recently came across this story of a man jumping into an ice-cold river to save a bear cub from drowning. I’m assuming he knew that bears eat humans, and yet he did that. I’m not old enough to act like a grey bearded wise guy doling out wisdom to “today’s young generation”, but if there is one thing I know, it is that people never cease to amaze. That is what makes us humans, I suppose - the ability to cut through stigma and achieve something that wouldn’t normally be expected of you. The motivation to live your own life outside the bounds of what is “sensible”.
There was this boy. He grew up in a small town in the US. At the beginning of the year 1831 he lost his job, was defeated in the run for Illinois State Legislature, and had to suffer through the death of his sweetheart. Understandably, he had a nervous breakdown in 1836, after which he again underwent numerous political failures, which would normally have crushed anyone. This boy, however, never gave up, and went on to be elected the President of the United States in 1860. His name was Abraham Lincoln. Or maybe you’ve heard of the clerk at the patent office who sucked at school and later discovered the Theory of Relativity..just maybe.
Our own men and women, from Tenali Raman and Birbal, who hailed from poor families and yet went on to become etched in the annals of history, to APJ Abdul Kalam and Indira Nooyi, who continued to make history -the enormous contributions of these people are often lost to us in our day to day crises of getting through life. The motivation that should normally have driven us to heights that would amaze our own selves is normally covered in the muck of the deadlines that our jobs pile on us.
Right from mythological times, our history is filled with instances of greatness. Like that one time when Lord Karna gave away his shield to the Brahmin-disguised Krishna, fully knowing that it’d mean his own death on the battlefield. Or like the time when Lord Hanuman realised his true dormant power when faced with the vast ocean, in order to obey the orders of his Lord.
It isn’t always for good though - that one time when Lord Shiva beheaded his own son Ganesha in a fit of rage, when the boy was simply obeying his mother’s orders. Or from the more recent times, when Nathuram Godse murdered Gandhi, who was otherwise so revered and loved. People never cease to amaze.
We’ve all heard the story of the boy who used to sell tea, and rose to become the current Prime Minister of India; the bus conductor Rajnikanth, who rose to become the Demigod of South Indian cinema; the stuttering boy Hrithik Roshan who went on the become the Greek God that we know him as. People from all across the world have overcome their barriers and shortcomings, and exceeded expectations everywhere. Be it in the acts of kindness, bravery, or self improvement, they keep instilling our faith in humankind, and making us believe that we too could amount to something greater. That we’re more than just cogs in a machine, that we amount to more than just pawns in some corporate game.
Such people keep inspiring us to believe that we, too, could do whatever we dreamed of, be whatever we hope to be.
And that if we put our mind to it, the sky is the limit.
Photography By: Dikshit Sharma