10 October 2012

The Story of My Life

I was never into reading biographies although they tell mostly truths about a person's life. These days though, some biographies are twisted truths or beautified realities. Why? Perhaps to let the readers imagine an excellent person instead of a struggling person.

Like I just mentioned, I am not really into reading biographies but reading diaries is a different matter. I read Anne Frank's and now, Helen Keller's short biography and compilation of letters. The biography part is mostly about her childhood years and her struggles with her studies in her special condition. She managed to attend a college for people with normal sight and hearing, and be one them. I believe that she had too great of a pressure so that she can cope with her inefficiencies. The letter part was mostly of her letters to various people and some responses from them.

Helen Keller became deaf and blind after acquiring an illness at a very young age. She had trouble communicating with others ever since, however, there were still people patient enough to understand her lack of words. Being deaf and blind at the same time prevents her from learning quickly and from communicating with others efficiently. She still has the ability to talk using her voice but it wasn't used until later in her teenage years. Her inability to distinguish sounds deprives her of her ability to produce vocal sounds as well. With proper guidance, she was able to use her voice to talk with people but I am just not too sure how she managed to receive the responses. It would either be through writing in her palm or feeling the movements of the lips of the person.

Helen Keller was given a tutor who has stayed with her ever since they met - Ms. Sullivan. I think that she was the greatest person ever mentioned in her story. Since I managed to read Ms. Keller's thoughts and perception of various things, I wanted to know Ms. Sullivan's view-point. Surely, it was difficult to learn by being deaf and blind and not knowing anything of the world. But, how much of a struggle was it to teach a deaf and blind person who knows nothing of the world? Interesting, isn't it?

Another thing I am curious about is her originality in ideas. Helen Keller cannot see or hear but I believe that her sense of touch is sharper given her condition. She learns her environment by having people describe it for her. The book is actually filled with adjectives and descriptive words and phrases - something I am not very good at. Anyway, how can her thoughts about something be original if her knowledge is basically someone else's that was imprinted to her? Well, a person can always make a mental picture of something, and it is a lot easier for people who have sight. But for a person who's sight was taken during her childhood - when she doesn't even know what a sun or a sea is - to be able to create a mental picture of something? I just cannot imagine it.

What else? I realized that well-known personalities in both science and literature today have really lived before. I mean, I would only read their names after their inventions or the titles of their masterpieces, but I really don't know anything about them. Helen Keller, however, was privileged to meet some of these distinguished people - Mark Twain, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, Wright brothers and some other people who made names in both literature and science departments. I knew that they were real people, but I just had a clearer image of the time they were alive; that they are not some stuck-up people who only locked themselves in their houses while inventing or writing something.

In a sense, Helen Keller's life is very inspiring and motivating. It feels like I can be very grateful for what I am now and that I need not to wish for more. It can make you remember that life has its ups and downs and that there will always be people who will support you through everything. It can make you feel good about yourself and about the little things you've accomplished. It would allow you to think that life is not all about happiness, but is shared with sorrows and regrets. It was a very good read. I am thankful for my friend to gave me the book.

Well, here are some thoughts that I like from the book...

*  "When I try to classify my earliest impressions, I find that fact and fancy look alike across the years that link the past with the present."

*  "Knowledge is love and light and wisdom."

*  "Thus I learned from life itself."

*  "Any teacher can take a child to the classroom, but not every teacher can make him learn."

*  "It seems to me that the great difficulty of writing is to make the language of the educated mind express our confused ideas, half feelings, half thoughts, when we are little more than bundle of instinctive tendencies."

*  "There is no way to become original, except to be born so." - Stevenson

*  "Man only is interesting to man."

*  "I suppose we aimed o high, and disappointment was therefore inevitable."

*  "For after all, everyone who wishes to gain true knowledge must climb the Hill Difficulty alone, and since there is no royal road to the summit, I must zigzag it in my own way. I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better. I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and began to see the widening horizon."

*  "Every struggle is a victory."

*  "There are as many opinions as there are men."

*  "But there is nothing more capricious than the memory of a child: what it will hold and what it will lose."

*  "To be banished from Rome is but t live outside of Rome."

*  "One goes to college to learn, it seems, not to think."

*  "I used to think that everybody was always happy, and at first it made me very sad to know about pain and great sorrow; but now I know that we could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world."

*  "I wonder how many years there will be in eternity. I am afraid I cannot think about so much time."

*  "We are all discoverers in one sense, being born quite ignorant of all things."

*  "Some one is ever ready to scatter little acts of kindness along our pathway, making it smooth and pleasant."

*  "I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities. Perhaps our guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them and will give them back to us in the beautiful sometime when we have grown wiser and learned how to use them rightly."

*  "The thought that my dear Heavenly Father is always near, giving me abundantly of all those things which truly enrich life and make it sweet and beautiful, makes every deprivation seem of little moment compared with countless blessings I enjoy."

*  "But I am slowly learning that there is not happiness enough in the world for everyone to have all that he wants."

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