(This was selected as a featured post for #FridayReflections)
Courage comes in many forms. Sometimes, courage can be that quiet unassuming person you meet down the road who surprises everyone by braving all odds, defying the norms and achieving the impossible.
Does the name Arunima Sinha ring a bell for you?
Some of you might remember reading about this gutsy girl when she was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015, for climbing Mount Everest. So, what is it that makes her a true champion?
Climbing Mount Everest is a dream come true even for the most confident adventurer because of the sheer number of odds that pose a challenge to anyone daring to reach the top of the world. How much more challenging would that be if the climber was an amputee with a prosthetic leg?
The year was 2011. Twenty-four-year-old Arunima Sinha, a national level volleyball player, was thrown off a moving train by thugs for refusing to hand over the gold chain she was wearing. The compartment was full of people, but no one came to the rescue of a girl being robbed and attacked. What happened thereafter took a matter of seconds. Her left leg came under the wheels of a train on the opposite track.
As she lay bleeding and calling for help, almost 49 trains passed by her. Sadly, help arrived much later. By then, unable to bear the pain, she had already passed out. Her leg was in such a critical condition that it had to be amputated.
The girl refused to give up. For someone who never thought she’d never survive that night, a new surge of hope came when morning dawned. While dealing with pitying murmurs of, “Who will marry you now,” and the absurd conspiracy theories that followed, she had made a decision. She would climb Mount Everest.
A meeting with the famous Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest proved to be the much-needed boost for Arunima. Pal’s words propelled her forward – “Know that you have already conquered your inner Everest. Now you need to climb the mountain only to show the world what you are made of.”
In 2013 she did just that, becoming the world’s first female amputee, and the first Indian amputee, to achieve this feat.
That was just the beginning of her achievements. In fact, Arunima stunned everyone by taking on the Mission Seven Summit, which saw her conquer five of the seven peaks of the world, one after another, proving once again, that no challenge was impossible if one was as determined as Arunima was.
I bowed to that courage. I just had to. Arunima’s story of grit and determination came to me at a critical time in my life when I had been fighting a battle on many fronts for months and was nearly giving up. When I read about the way she faced the odds, it made me realise how powerful and indomitable the human spirit could be. Her story and her fight gave me renewed hope and faith in myself in a way that few things did. To be honest, I felt my troubles were absolutely nothing in comparison to what lay before her and I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, so to say, ready to face my fate.
Giving up has never been an option for me. Not for a moment. Not even in my dreams. This time, after the recent setbacks, even more so.
So, what it is that keeps us going and never ever give up? What propels us forward to try just one more time?
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around.
To tell the truth, obstacles are the very reason why we end up doing something. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself. Haven’t we all had a time when something insurmountable has come into our lives and we faced the horns of the dilemma for the umpteenth time…to keep trying or quit?
Chances are, most of us have thought about giving up on something. All of us have. When expectations haven’t been met and disappointments add up, that is where something threatens to snap within us, that makes us forget about the beauty of the vision and dream we once saw behind it. It suddenly feels like the goal you were once aiming for is no longer worth the effort. Why fight then? Let’s just give up on it.
Perhaps it seems like it will take a lot out of us and we are afraid of doing so. It is tempting to give up. So, that we can accept it was not meant for us.
But, that is my point.
That is precisely when we must not give up. Because that is when we are already very very close to achieving whatever it was that we had set out to achieve.
A student once asked Thomas Edison how he managed to not give up during his 5,000 failed attempts of inventing a functioning lightbulb. Edison answered something like: “What do you mean? I didn’t fail at all, I discovered 5,000 ways of how not to do it!”
So, what is it that stops us from learning new ways to achieve our goals? If, for instance, the previous plan didn’t work out as we wished, what stops us from trying a new approach? Fear and frustration build their home within our minds first. That is where the battle begins and sadly, often where it ends too.
Life is a struggle. It will through curveballs at you and humble you. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference.
That is when people like Arunima come along to prove that nothing is impossible. Arunima’s story has since been published in a book, titled – Born again on the mountain. Her poem beautifully sums up her thoughts in the following lines:
“Rehne de aasma, zameen ki talash kar,
Rehne de aasma, zameen ki talash kar
Sab kuch yahi hai, kahin aur na talash kar
Jeene ke liye, ek kami ki talash kar.”
[Let the sky be and seek the earth,
Let the sky be and seek the earth,
All is here, search not elsewhere,
To live beautifully, seek life in dearth]
Life lessons are learnt from one another. We all become better at things by trying. That is when we must listen to that quiet voice within us, that incorrigible optimist in our hearts to guide us on, to keep trying and never give up. Never ever give up!