Alyssa Carson was three years old when she watched an animated TV show wherein the cartoon characters went on a mission to Mars from their backyard. The show gave Carson the greatest dream of her life—a dream of travelling to Mars. Encouraged by her father, she pursued this dream all the way until she could finally turn it into reality. The 17-year-old space enthusiast is training under NASA to become an astronaut. If all goes well, she could be the first human to land on Mars in 2033.
Hima Das is an 18-year old sprinter who made history by winning gold at the 400-metre final at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics Championships. This daughter of a rice farmer is the first ever Indian track and field athlete to achieve this rare feat. From early on, Hima showed keen interest in sports. Life in a remote village was far from pursuing a career in sports. But this never stopped little Hima from kicking the ball around with the neighbourhood boys. Of course, instead of a football field it was mud pits next to the rice fields and in place of expensive studs it was barefoot children playing a sport alien to the audience of the far-off hamlet. However, talent doesn’t stay hidden for too long. Hima was eventually spotted by a local coach who decided to train her in athletics.
World’s second youngest chess Grandmaster, Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu is all of 12. ‘Prag’ as he is fondly called, was only three and half years old when he learnt the rules of the game from his sister. What started out as a hobby, became a passion. And ever since, there’s been no stopping him.
These youngsters have had an ordinary beginning, just like you and me. Yet, they have gone on to lead extraordinary lives. While many of us struggle and grapple with life and purpose, clueless about where we are headed, these young achievers have managed to set their goal and plan a journey toward that goal. With a clear vision, they have chosen their calling, and the life they want to live. So, what does it take to figure out the direction of life? Soulveda explores.
The courage to dream
When was the last time we allowed ourselves to dream? When was the last time we believed we could achieve anything? Truth be told, not often. We all have dreams, but not all of us know how to take them seriously. More often than not, we simply brush them under the carpet because we think they are unrealistic; that they are farfetched, impossible to achieve or downright crazy.
But, what if we simply started believing in them—no questions asked? Perhaps, they wouldn’t seem so incredible anymore. They’d become our life’s vision, the destination of life’s journey. And then as we’d work to reach that goal, the ‘unrealistic’ dream would manifest in real life. As American actor Christopher Reeve once said, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
We only need to spark our dreams, blaze our own trails and constantly fuel the inner flame.
The road less travelled
How comfortable are we to take the road less travelled in pursuit of our dream? How courageous are we to create our own trail armed only with our vision? Not many of us have the guts to go about it because we’d be alone in it. We often douse the fire within and stick to the beaten path. We follow wherever the good-old track leads us, unsure of where we really want to get to.
But what if we developed enough courage to travel off the beaten path? Of course, we’re likely to trip and fall, or be lost. But then, we just might come out feeling exuberant. We might be able to taste the freedom of living life as we’d dared to envisage it. As bestselling author Michelle Leighton writes in her book Everything for Us: “Blaze your own trail in life. Make your own choices and make your own mistakes. It’s the only way you’ll find your own happiness, not someone else’s.”
Vanquishing the greatest monster
It is easy to spark the inner fire within. But it is hard to fuel its flame, especially with fear lurking around to extinguish this fire just as quickly as it’s kindled. A cancer, fear creeps into the head when we expect it the least. It takes over, intimidates and paralyses the spirit of keeping the fire alive.
So how to really overcome it and continue to walk the chosen path? Embracing the fear itself, knowing it’s ok to be scared, seems like the first logical step. Learning to accept failure is the next one. The acceptance of fear is in itself the weapon to combat this most crippling emotion. As author Richie Norton writes in Résumés Are Dead and What to Do About It: “To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around.”
Just like Alyssa Carson, Hima Das and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, an extraordinary life is well within anyone’s reach. To live such a life is possible. We only need to spark our dreams, blaze our own trails and constantly fuel the inner flame. As philosopher and bestselling author Ayn Rand writes in Atlas Shrugged: “Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark. In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.”
Edited by: Shalini K Sharma