Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
This is a real life incident that inspired me and I thought to myself, why not share this story? Maybe it would inspire someone else, somewhere.
On the flight to Amsterdam from Bristol, I met this inspiring lady. Flights connecting European countries are pretty much like our domestic flights – small and stuffy if crowded. This flight was no exception and I booked myself an aisle seat as I feel very awkward sitting squeezed in between other passengers.
Only – when I had perched myself, a lady in her early 70’s was limping towards me with a walking stick supporting her leg. She stopped at my seat, smiled and then I realized that this lady was going to be my neighbour for an hour. Looking at her condition, I assumed it would be a struggle for her to reach her seat through that very narrow passage and I suggested that we swap our seats.
Now she had my aisle seat and I was in the middle seat. Never mind, I told myself – it was a matter of just one hour. The air hostess helped her fasten her seat belt, folded her walking stick and placed it in the cabinet overhead. The lady then looked at me,with her sky blue eyes, neatly done eyebrows and a very charming face, and thanked me infinitely for this swapping of seats. Very soon, the flight was on the runway and I started reading a book while she was reading the newspaper.
To keep me going for the next one hour, I wanted to buy a hot drink and so asked the air hostess to lend me my purse from the cabin overhead. As soon as she opened the cabin, the folded walking stick rolled down speedily following the law of gravity and hit the lady’s upper lip, immediately turning it sore. The air hostess apologized several times and so did I, but the lady was all smiles and with a cheerful look, she asked for an icepack.
After a few minutes, I asked her, “Are you feeling better?”
She replied, “Not to worry; the ice has done its job and I am glad that my glasses and left eye are saved. My left eye is a glass eye, you see.”
I was taken aback but at that very moment I could sense something very uncommon about this lady.
She then said, “Some 20 years ago, I met with an accident during river rafting. Our rafting boat lost control and hit a big rock and I was thrown out due to the jerk, and ended up hitting my left eye on a sharp rock, damaging my eyeball. So it was later replaced by a glass eyeball.”
She then continued, ” I couldn’t go rafting anymore. I am very fond of running and walking. I moved to Wales from Scotland so that I could walk and run in the mountains. Only, when I had got used to living with one eye and finding solace in running and walking, a viral infection hit me, affecting my central nervous system and damaging my nerves. I couldn’t walk for some time. Later, with regular exercises and a walking stick, I am back on my legs’.
I could see the twinkle in her eyes, her determination to survive and to keep involving herself in doing something that gave her pleasure.
By this time, I was in awe of this lady. Very unsure whether to say this or not, I asked her, “How has your life changed? Are you able to still keep yourself physically active?”
She immediately responded, “Life is a series of good and bad things. I am a person who refuses to be affected or stopped by anything unfavourable. To keep going is life and I still walk up the hills regularly with my friends and have a very busy lifestyle. Only last month I came back from the US and had great fun with my friends and family there. Now, I am looking forward to see some museums in Amsterdam and of course walk in the lovely tulip gardens.”
I could see the zeal and love for life in her eyes; for a moment I forgot her glass eye and for me, her eyes were full of a desire to explore life and take up new challenges.
Life doesn’t really stop with age and disabilities; it is this desire that keeps one going.
The flight was about to land and we were still chatting. After landing we bid adieu to each other. I was still thinking about her and while collecting my baggage, it struck me that I didn’t ask for her name! But then, how does it matter? Name, age, sex – does inspiration need all this? Anybody anywhere could be an inspiration and to think of it, inspiration is all around us!
There are many instances when we want to give up; small failures discourage us but there are ‘inspirations’ like this lady who has been undeterred and strong as a rock when life made her walk a rough path. Everybody has something to cry about but the biggest challenge is to accept life as it is and make the most of it.
Image of woman running via Shutterstock
I have always loved writing and strongly believe that writing can create social awareness . I
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