Sunday, January 27, 2019

All Lives are Impactful! (or should it be death should not be forgotten)

                    Why such a dismal title of this post? Because it is the end that matters.
   When Vanguard's John Bogle died last week, his impact and financial advice were covered by all the national newspapers and TV channels. Steve Job's biography was published three weeks after his death. Bogle and Jobs' legacy and impact will be carried through several generations. Fighting just for survival is ubiquitous in countries like India. How can anyone who is barely making it through leave an impact like Bogle and Job?
    "Do you need a hand carrying your bag?" I asked a frail old lady. She said, "Yes, my hands are trembling." As we both walked to our gate at the Goa International airport, India. She told me she is traveling by flight for the first time, tears rolled down her cheeks not because she was nervous about flying. Because of the reason why a poor taxi driver's wife had to take her first flight in her life. Her younger sister passed away last night and she was going for her funeral. She talked incessantly what a great human being she was and that she left a 6-month baby behind. At that point, it was not the heavy bag that bothered me. But the heaviness in my heart, as I looked into her eyes. I felt her loss and saw her sister's life through her words and in her tears. Why do we l lose the people we love? Where do they go after they die? What if we all knew our end date? Would we live courageously and with a purpose? Emotions were running high and I tried to distract myself by getting lost in the book that I  had got on this trip 'Refugee'.
  Two hours later, I was at the Delhi International airport. The city was shivering at 37 degrees temperature. The struggle around by the common man on the street was hard not to notice, even if you were walking blindfolded. There were poverty and frigid condition in the air. It is about the day to day survival, some survive and some give up. They are born and they die without anyone knowing about the insurmountable challenges they went through. Shouldn't we learn from their humble life? Wasn't their life impactful?
 I walked around thinking about Salma's sister (old lady in Goa) and the poor people outside trying to protect themselves from the cold. Will their lives matter?  I sat at the airport watching people pass by, I noticed Rajesh cleaning the floor. He asked me where I was flying.
  "Did you go to school?" I asked (always a teacher first :) )
 "No, I have been cleaning for years, so my kids can travel like you someday," he said.
Rajesh might be a no one but he has a story to tell and learn from. Sacrifice!
Asha, a bathroom attendant at the Delhi airport.  Li (below) a baggage cart collector at Beijing airport. They are struggling, fighting the battle of life but with a smile and for a bigger purpose than themselves.

Don't fight for what  you have now, fight for what you don't want later."Begin with the end in mind," said Stephen Covey in his book of 7 Habits of Successful People. When we are facing our death, don't we want to feel that our life mattered?
When I look back I want to feel: I came, I conquered and overcome my failures and I lived purposefully. The purpose of my life is to help my students stretch and grow to find their greater purpose. To know that they can write their own stories, that overcoming their struggle will inspire others around them. Their insurmountable life challenges will never be forgotten.

We are not who we say we are, we're not who we want to be.
We are the sum of the influence and impact that we have,
in our lives, on others- Carl Sagan