“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye” – Helen Keller.
I came across that beautiful quote up there during a time in my life I felt like a failure. A time I felt like ‘a lone stagnant water surrounded by fresh, flowing river of people’. I had to read up on this great woman that has greatly inspired me. Here’s what I found out…..
Helen Keller was just like any other healthy baby born in the year 1880. She was born with her senses of sight and hearing, started walking at 1yr of age and she could talk. Helen however contracted an illness called ‘brain fever’ in 1882 which claimed both her sight and hearing at just 19 months old. That must have been heart shattering for the family! They didn’t give up on her though . They didn’t sign her off and leave her life to chances to decide. They left no stone unturned in finding help to make her a better person.
Anne Sullivan, who was employed as her teacher, patiently taught her how to make connection between objects and letters spelled out in her hand. The young Helen, despite her challenges went ahead to graduate college cum laude at the age of 24. She did write her first book, ‘The story of my life’ while still in school at the age of 21. She co-founded Helen Keller International with George Kessler in 1915 to combat the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition. She helped found the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. Helen was appointed counsellor of international relations for the American Foundation of Overseas Blind in 1946. She also traveled to 35 countries on five continents between 1946 and 1957. She received so many honors in recognition of her accomplishments and also received honorary doctoral degrees from so many great universities. Keller remained very active and hardworking till she became very old. She embarked on a 40,000-mile, five month trek across Asia at an old age of 75! That’s really one tough journey even I would think twice before embarking upon at this young age of mine!
This woman’s life was one incredible, great adventure. She truly has inspired millions of people and to me, she’s determination and hardwork personified. Honestly, I had to tell myself that if Helen could do it, so could I. I just had to agree with one of her quotes which says,
“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me”.
So I decided to look inward and discover ‘me’ and the real purpose of ‘me’ because with great people like Helen who surmounted all obstacles despite overwhelming challenges, I’ve come to know that if I set my mind to it, then I can achieve it.