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Inspiration

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HEROINE

[Imagine, if you will, living your life without the ability to see or hear.]

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learned whatever state I’m in, therein to be content.” ~ Helen Keller

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American, Helen Keller, overcame horrific obstacles to become an author, political activist and lecturer. Born in West Tuscumbia, Alabama in the year 1880, baby Helen suffered, ‘congestion of the stomach and brain,’ an antiquated term for either Meningitis or Scarlet Fever. Leaving her blind and deaf, her parents had to decide whether or not to commit her to an institution. Teacher and companion, Ann Sullivan, was hired by the Keller’s in desperation before taking that final step.

Ms. Sullivan, also limited in sight, began an arduous campaign to teach Helen that the letters she formed in Helen’s hands were the spelling of words. On a pivotal day, Helen made the connection that the letters W A T E R had an association with the cool liquid being gently applied to her face. Ms. Sullivan, exhausted from the rigors of teaching, celebrated Helen’s amazing accomplishment with the Keller family.

Helen learned rapidly and as a young adult attended the prestigious Radcliffe College. Ann Sullivan lived with and befriended Helen until her death in 1936. Helen and Ann traveled to 40 countries and were outspoken Disability Advocates. Helen read and wrote using the Braille system and eventually learned to form sounds that became audible as language.

Helen Keller became a suffragist, a pacifist, a radical socialist and a supporter of birth control. Dear friends such as Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain and Charlie Chaplin helped to champion Helen’s causes as well as to love and cherish her for her talents and endearing personality.

Ms. Keller published 12 books and numerous articles. A series of strokes in 1966 left Helen in retirement at her family home. Helen Keller passed away in 1968, having become a worldwide heroine.

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Helen Keller is my hero, for lack of a better term. I have read her published works and researched the disabilities that can limit a blind and/or deaf person. Having a few medical and emotional issues, I am in awe of her achievements. I will honestly state that there are times when I feel sorry for myself and that, in and of itself, is pitiful.

Helen said, “I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.”

I am working on the ability to be humble, yet have miles to go before I will state that I am. Humility is, in my opinion, a mindset; it is the coming to terms with an estimate of my own importance. Now, this is tricky stuff and has me a bit befuddled. I do have a degree of importance to my family and friends. Let me be forthright however, and say that the world at large will not miss me when my time comes.

Helen was humble. She knew that serving others not only obtained aid for those struggling, but that serving others allowed her to rest quietly of an evening. I know that this is so…that when I’m helpful I truly feel some contentment. I have several friends who rely on me as an aspirin for their pain and as a shoulder to cry on when life is too difficult.

I feel fulfilled when I help an animal in need, when I hold my tongue and keep ugly words at bay and when I smile at a stranger. Am I saving the world from all that is destructive? I certainly know that is far from true. On my quest for humility, however, and on my quest to be kind, I am challenging myself to find the means to rest easy.

Again, I will share a Helen Keller quote, “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.”

My quest to become humble has been a long time coming. You see, it is hard to get away from thinking that “it is all about me.” Helen has shown me that in the face of great adversity, one can not only achieve personal goals, one can reach out a hand. In an era where many seem focused only on themselves, where “Me! Me!” seems to be a universal cry, I think of Helen.

I will close now with some additional wisdom from Helen Keller;

“The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.”

“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”

“Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others.”

[Imagine,  if you will, living your life without the ability to see or hear.]

Comments

  • Margot says:

    I remember learning about Helen Keller during school and feeling both amazed at what she’d done and ashamed that I complain so easily when I am actually so blessed. In a world where it’s always ‘me, me, me’ (and I’m greatly guilty of this), it’s refreshing to hear someone talk about humility. Thanks Kathleen :)

  • Jill Harrington says:

    It’s more than I can comprehend. Certainly made me re-think my obsession with self.

  • Susan Colman says:

    Being grateful for my own abilities and good fortune is something I strive to do every day. That ‘s one reason this article resonates with me. In addition, I love the story of Helen Keller’s bravery and spirit. Thirdly, I have read in “Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama, that kindness to others is a huge source of happiness, and I enjoyed coming across the same concept in this terrific article.

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