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The topic of this essay is a quote by Hellen Keller. A woman who needs no introduction, Keller is the epitome of the simple yet beautiful fact that what the human mind conceives, it achieves. Her life was characterized by her indomitable will and unflinching courage in the face of dire adversity. She never gave up on life, she never gave up on herself, though it usually took her ten times more efforts to accomplish even the most simple tasks that we often take for granted.
Interestingly, the existential philosopher – Soren Kierkegaard – shared a similar point of view about life – “The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen, but, are to be lived and felt with one’s heart and soul”. Kierkegaard proposed that each individual is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately. People are defined only insofar as they act and that they are responsible for their actions.
To the average individual, Keller’s life would seem as one filled with despair, remorse, regret, hopelessness and helplessness. But she, along with her teacher Anne Sullivan, transformed this Herculean challenge into a bright, vibrant opportunity. The teacher, Anne Sullivan, was also visually impaired.
A particular incident which stands out in the life of this awe-inspiring teacher-student duo is worth mentioning: in order to make Helen understand the relationship between the individual alphabets and the ideas that a collection of alphabets represented, Anne spelled the letters ‘w-a-t-e-r’ on her student’s hand, and then spilt water on it. For the little girl, the idea that every object had a name was a completely new revelation. She ran around her house feeling everything, in an eagerness to learn the names of things.
This incident filled Anne’s heart with joy. Both she and her student were ecstatic – it was the beginning of a new journey for both of them, and the road they had chosen to travel was an adventurous one. Anne, being visually impaired, could not see, but she felt the beauty of this moment of discovery deep down in her heart. It was a pure, over joyous moment for both the women, a moment which only they could feel and cherish in their own unique way. Helen’s story is not only awe-inspiring for her strong determination to overcome the hurdles in her life. She was also a suffragette and a socialist; she fought against inequality and abject poverty. She could feel the pain of the others around her. And that motivated her to bring about this beautiful transformation in others’ lives, and also her own.
Thus, if man can feel the pain in another’s heart and can endeavor to lessen it, he will not have lived in vain. We all have been given this beautiful gift of life, and we receive it just once. It becomes beautiful and meaningful if and when we can feel for others and work towards empathizing with them. Helen Keller’s words seem so true here – “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”.
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