Thursday, April 13, 2017

Triumph in the Ebb of Life

Dr Abe V Rotor

Assignment in Communication Art UST. Feature a person you personally know who triumphed in the midst of crisis. Cite his achievement and the lesson which we derive from him and his experience.

When suddenly we see a shooting star we grasp something to wish for.  But before our thoughts are organized our lucky charm is gone.

There are times we search the sky for a speck of moving light, a wish ready at hand.  But the stars, thousands of them simply hang on flickering, and none of them falling out.

When we are in this situation we must be in the Ebb of Life.  What is this strange land?

Soon enough we realize we are an orphan of the universe.  An orphan often talks to himself, for there is no one else around.  He thinks and feels that the world has shrunk.  It is indeed a lonely place.

But this is the place where Michelangelo single handedly made his masterpiece, the huge paintings of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  In solitude and meditation he saw God, His angels and saints, and he made them models of his art.

It is here where Dr Jose P Rizal wrote his famous Noli Me Tangere which ignited the Philippine Revolution.  He saw meaning in the death of a moth that singed into his lamp -  to become the symbol of martyrdom.     
Jose Rizal
Helen Keller, in her solace of total blindness wrote, If I were given three days to see, a moving essay which made people see the world better.  
Frederick Handel composed The Messiah, the greatest religious composition ever made, without food and sleep for days.

Robert the Bruce, the great Scottish hero hid in a cave and learned his lessons on persistence and strategy from a spider while waiting for a chance to escape his pursuers.  Later he formed a huge army which defeated the English army, the latter to grant Scotland full independence.

What could have happened to Dantes, the count of Monte Cristo, in the novel of the same title by Alexander Dumas if he simply gave in to despair in the dungeon? From an old fellow prisoner he found wisdom in facing the harsh realities of life – and a secret of a hidden treasure. He escaped from prison, and with tremendous wealth, succeeded in avenging his plotters.  At the end of the story, he realized that revenge does not bring true peace.

Here are other men and women who capitalized on the ebb of their lives to emerge with great achievements:

Helen Keller

·         Victor E Frankl – Europe’s leading psychiatrist, founded a new theory, logotherapy, while detained in a Nazi concentration camp during WW II. He became the most significant modern thinker in the field of psychotherapy. His book Man’s Search for Meaning sold more than two millions copies.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Victor E Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

·         John Milton wrote Paradise Lost when he had normal eyesight and Paradise Regained after losing it.  His works comprise the greatest epic poem in English literature, a profound exploration of the moral problems of God’s justice, through the poet’s genius in fusing classicism and innovation, narrative and drama.  

·         Captain Scott, the great English explorer, had already reached the South Pole, and was on the way back to camp when he and his team were caught in a blizzard. In freezing cold, He managed to write, “Had we lived, I would have had a tale of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman.  These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.”

·         Albert Schweitzer – philosopher, medical doctor, writer, teacher, philanthropist, musician, rolled into one, stands tall among the world’s greatest humanitarians. Instead of enjoying fame and the comfort of high society, he chose to spend most of his life in a remote village in the Dark Continent – Africa - healing the sick, spreading the gospel, fighting ignorance through education, and bridging the civilized and primitive world.
Florence Nightingale 

·         Florence Nightingale renounced “good life” in her native country, England, to join volunteers to serve in an army hospital during the Crimean War. It was extremely dangerous for women to be at the battlefront, but she persisted and brought to the eyes of the world the importance and dignity of the nursing profession. The Lady with a Lamp making her rounds among the wounded and sick to the wee hours became the symbol of nursing.

   Mahatma Gandhi, one-man against the British empire, underwent extreme personal sacrifice - from humiliation to self-impose fasting – until India was granted independence.    

There are many men and women who labored under great pains and odds, who rose to significance and fame.  And there are even more who lived and died like the Unknown Soldier.

Mahatma Gandhi, Man of the last Millenium

Young Darwin was a disgrace to his prominent family.  He chose to be a naturalist defying his father wish to become a doctor. He suffered much at sea for nearly five years as a naturalist, lived in complete isolation because of his radical view of evolution which is contrary to the Doctrine of Creation. He was ridiculed as a monkey for this Ascent of Man, other publications of the same concept of evolution, notwithstanding.

Great works, great deeds, are distilled from hardship and misfortune.  They bring out the best in a person.  Often the battle is but our own, and the enemy is us, yet the victor is us, too.

It is no wonder that if we look up long enough, and think of the enormous reserve in us waiting to be tapped, while keeping faith in the Almighty to whom we owe it, all the stars will hang on shining and twinkling as if to tell us we are not orphans of the universe. ~
Acknowledgement: Photos from Internet., Wikipedia, Google

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