“How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us? I sometimes think it is by using the work of others,” suggests Nelson Mandela to Francois Pienaar, in the movie, Invictus. Frankly my quest right now is not for greatness. That’s too much to ask for when all I am seeking is sustenance in and a periodical, critical review of the decisions I have taken in my life. Why I am where I am and why am I doing whatever I am doing? In such moments of uncertainty I seek out for reasons, and further for inspiration to sustain those reasons.
Recently I happened to meet two inspiring sets of people.
I was walking towards Matunga station with some friends. That’s when I spotted this lady, busy teaching this child while running her vegetable shop. I wonder, what kind of determination and faith in education it would take for a mother (or guardian) to keep on educating one’s child in most difficult circumstances of life?
Few days later, I happened to visit the Cuff Parade Slum area which is majorly populated by fishermen and their families. I met these two awesome boys (right in the above picture, boys in the school dress) who lived next to a filthy garbage collection pit (left in the above picture). Still, they were getting dressed for their school with a happy smile on their faces. There was no one in the house. I assume their parents were off to work. The elder brother was helping the younger one to get ready. Their smiles whispered to me then, “We believe in what you are doing, do you?”
I would want to make a point here that I don’t intend to glorify the “power of poor to fight against the odds of poverty”. That’s not the aim. I have met people from other sections (the upper and the middle class), who have lived their lives with equally strong examples of faith. It so happens that the two stories I mentioned here come from a certain section of society (of which I have other issues but shall not discuss it here, as it's not in the scope of this piece). Also, I think it doesn’t matter which field of work we choose to live by; what matters is our understanding about our work and what is it intended at. Rest everything falls into place.
I have read Gandhi’s talisman* in almost all my CBSE board books through my schooling days. However its true meaning only unfolds now when I think of that lady on the street, those boys in the slums and many such amazing set of people I happen to interact in my course of life. With this, the doubts in my mind start melting away…!
* Gandhi’s Talisman: "I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away." – Source: http://www.mkgandhi.org/gquots1.htm
P. S.: The opening of this blog is same as one my previous blogs, http://rohit2093.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/beyond-the-cycle-and-cancer/ . It fitted in here pretty well and didn’t feel like changing it.