Ordinary Courage

      12 Comments on Ordinary Courage

Many years ago I read a story about a boy called David.

David was a spastic suffering from cerebral palsy. When he was two years old his parents noticed something wrong. They were told he would never walk, talk or count to ten. They were told that the case is hopeless and David will live like a vegetable. They advised them to put David in an institution so that other family members get on with a normal life.

David’s parents didn’t accept that judgment on their son’s life. They both saw their son as a normal healthy boy leading a full life and were not willing to accept defeat. All the doctors they consulted were unanimous in their opinion. David would be a vegetable.

After a long struggle they miraculously managed to consult a doctor who had a waiting list of appointment stretching into two years. The doctor gave them the first glimmer of hope. He warned them that the road would be tough, if they were prepared to walk it with David. Willing for anything but the alternative, David’s parents agreed.

The doctor to David’s parents that they’d have to work with David until he dropped and then work him some more. They would have to push him beyond all human endurance and then push him some more. It was going to be a long, difficult and at times seemingly hopeless struggle. If they let up even for a day, all their work will have been in vain. David’s parents understood the grimness of the situation, but with joy in their heart they returned to prepare for the battle ahead.

A physical therapist and body builder were hired and a small gym was built in the basement. Then David’s battle with cerebral palsy began. After months of excruciating, dedicated effort – in which the entire family was involved – David began to respond and his Goliath started to loose ground step by step. Then came the day when David, now six, attempted and accomplished a pushup, unaided. The family was overjoyed and freely shed tears because they realized that Happiness was not pleasure but victory. This feat is especially more remarkable because examination had shown that David had no connections between his brain and the right side of his body. His sense of balance was such that it would be impossible for him to be able to walk, ride a bicycle or skate.

Now David can swim, ride a bicycle, ice skate, and drive a car, plays ice hockey and golf. Mentally too David has beaten his Goliath. In seventh grade he could handle maths of ninth grade. This, from a boy who was told he’d not be able to count to ten. All his life he has worked out at least 3 hours daily – without fail. So he has only twenty- one hours a day instead of twenty- four.

You wouldn’t be reading the story of David’s victory if his parents hadn’t seen him as a normal, healthy boy. His parents had no business to dream of him leading a normal life. Reality forbade it, logic was dead against it. The word impossible was thrown at them in many forms and by many people qualified to pronounce that word. They were not deterred by that word.

Courage is not the bravado of standing in front of a loaded gun daring your opponent to shoot you. It is not demonstrated by acts of bravery. Physical bravery is laudable, there is not doubt. I am not decimating it in the least. Bravery is heroic. It is a very visible demonstrable virtue. It wins you admiration of your fellow men. Admiration, as we all know, is the ultimate high.

To push yourself out of your comfort zone into the realm of the impossible, when there is no admiration waiting at the end of the road, is not easy. When everything is against you and there is only pitch dark all around you, it is easy to give up. You know no one would blame you if you just stayed huddled in your chair. You have a cast iron alibi. In fact, you might also earn a lot of sympathy. Then, in that pitch dark, to stand up and take a step forward in faith, that is courage.

What do you think David would have been able to achieve with his focus and perseverance if he didn’t have cerebral palsy?

He would have accomplished nothing..! He would have been like all those who have had no such challenge- like me, or you. He would have been an ordinary person, with an ordinary person’s grouses. He would probably have had a lively sense of entitlement which was betrayed because the universe did not turn itself into his hand- maiden.

Then, I saw this video. Talk about reinforcing a point.

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12 thoughts on “Ordinary Courage

  1. Sridevi Datta

    A lovely inspirational post Dagny . Reminded me of “Last Lecture” by Randy Posch 🙂 Yes we all need to step out of our comfort zones for that pinch of happiness 🙂

    Reply
    1. Dagny Post author

      Sridevi, The video reminded me of Tuesdays with Morrie. And yes, The Last Lecture. What incredible courage… what an indomitable spirit. It is humbling and inspiring… together. Just like your post was yesterday. You are awesome, you know?

      Love,
      Dagny

      Reply
  2. spunkybong

    A wonderful piece that only a woman of your sensitivity can pen ending in a truly inspirational video. As to your speculation in your second last para, about how different things might have been, you may be right. Disability makes one tried so much harder. I agree with Subhabrata Dasgupta. Your post was my vitamin for the day!

    Reply
        1. Dagny Post author

          I’m trying Achyut. But its a losing battle. I don’t think I can stop it for much longer…!!

          Reply

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