Art of Living: If you WILL, You Can!


Dreams never hurt anybody if you keep working right behind the dreams to make as much of them become real as you can.

Frank Winfield Woolworth

It was one of the coldest winter mornings of the year 1964. Frank Wool worth, a poor young boy in tom clothes, walked into a large shopping mall in New York with a few coins in hand to buy a birthday gift for his mother. The salesman chased him away, as the money he had was nowhere near to getting him the gift he wanted. Frank went out weeping bitterly that morning, but not before making a pledge to himself:  “One day I will own a store like this!” He also recalled what Napoleon had once said: “Impossible is a word found only in a fool’s dictionary. Wise people create opportunities for themselves and make everything possible!”

Frank went back to his father’s trade—woodcutting, determined to fulfill one day the pledge he took at the mall. Saving every penny he could, he soon opened a gift shop. A few years later, Woolworth succeeded in purchasing the very same Moore and Augsberry store that had thrown him out some years ago. Frank’s success story did not end there. Within a few years, he became the owner of the world-famous Woolworth Shopping Mall network and went on to construct the 101-storied (1240 ft. high) Empire State Building at the centre of New York City.

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

– Stephen Hawking

World-famous scientist Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England, on 8 January 1942. At the age of 21, while pursuing his Ph.D. at Cambridge University, he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease and his doctors gave him just two years to live. However, Hawking decided not to give up! He went ahead and married Jane Wilde in 1965. In 1979, Hawking was named Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, a post previously held by Isaac Newton, which he held till 2009. He continues to be the Director of Research at the University Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. In 1985, he caught pneumonia, as a result of which he lost the ability to speak. In 1989, he published A Brief History of Time, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide!

What is most surprising is that Hawking achieved all this despite the fact that he is totally paralyzed, and is in a wheelchair since 1970, and communicates only by twitching his left cheek. Ever since 1985, he relies completely on a computer and voice synthesizer to speak. On the eve of his 70th birthday, two years ago, Hawking remarked cheerfully, “My illness has only prolonged my life!“.

Here’s another inspiring story of a young girl Prutha Desai, one of the victims of the earthquake that literally devastated Gujarat some years ago. What makes Prutha special was the way she reacted to the tragedy that resulted in the amputation of her right arm almost up to her shoulder, when she was dreaming of becoming an artist (painter) of repute after finishing her studies!

When she was a grade 9 student This is how she referred to the tragedy that totally destroyed her right hand. “God takes away from us, at times, what he likes most. Probably, he liked my right arm. We must respect His wishes. However, he always gives us much more in return!

She continued with a great sense of pride that reflected in her eyes, “that I can do the same work with my left hand, as well.” In fact, she had done some paintings with her left hand during her school days, which were on display in different parts of India.

Now she is a Doctor, completed her MD in Psychiatry. From being stuck under the building for 36 hours to losing an arm and becoming a doctor, Prutha has come a long way. Prutha has an encouraging message to anybody who has felt low:

“We humans have a tendency to underestimate ourselves. We are much more than two hands, two legs, two ears, one nose and one tongue. We are far more than our physical appearance, our mind can do wonders and can take you to great heights. Once you realise your strength and choose your weapons wisely to fight the battles, then, believe me, nothing can stop you.”

Dr. Prutha will always remain in our mind as someone who refused to surrender her dreams to adversities of any magnitude.

Unlike Woolworth, Hawking and Prutha, many of us often give in to despair, easily take to drugs, quit our dreams or even resort to suicide, instead of believing in the power that lies within us which can conquer all adversities. Why not, then, spend a few moments daily to discover that pearl within? Everything is within the reach of the one who believes in himself.

Let us remind ourselves once again of what Napoleon said: “…Wise people create opportunities for themselves and make everything possible!” Let our daily mantra be “I can, I will.”

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