Biren Lakra walked over 1,800 km from Mumbai to his village in Jharkhand’s Chaibasa district. He had worked at a construction site in Navi Mumbai, where COVID-19 stalled all work in March. He had enough savings to live on initially but then started running low on both food and money.
Unwilling to starve to death in an alien land, he started walking home on 2nd May. The journey took him 11 days—of dehydration, killing heat, and countless blisters on his feet. “I knew the journey would be difficult. But I also knew if I could just get home, everything would be all right,” says Biren.
And that’s the essence of hope—that nebulous belief that something good is waiting just around the corner. Even if we’re drowning in the dark at that moment.
For much of man’s existence on earth, the universe has been anything but kind. Famines, floods, wars, and earthquakes have destroyed entire populations. Plagues and flu have ravaged the world in the past, just as the coronavirus pandemic is doing now.
But still, we persevere. Why? Because, like the millions of migrants who are currently walking to their homes through the heat and dust of India, we see a future beyond our current circumstances.
We are sustained by the promise of a better tomorrow. As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, he who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how’.
And so, time and time again, we pick up the pieces of our shattered world and rebuild it with the precision of an eagle assembling its nest.
The comeback requires grit, talent, and skill, for sure. But the real driver of change is hope—of a new, improved world. Our hope for an enhanced future finds us the tools to get there.
Everyone dreams. But those who practice the habit of hope also find ways to realize their dreams by using their experiences to learn, grow, and change.
You too can walk this path of resilience and resurgence. Just keep a few things in mind:
1. Identify your dream, and start inching your way there. Barefoot, if need be.
2. Like Biren, you are in control of your destiny. Don’t let your past predict your future.
3. Never accept defeat without testing all options. Look for alternative means to achieve your goals. If the door’s closed, jump out of the window. If you can’t get a ride to your destination, walk.
4. When you spot obstacles in your path, assess the possibilities of overcoming them. Also, ask yourself if you’re willing to bear the cost of failure. Biren wasn’t willing to stay back in Mumbai even if the journey to Jharkhand killed him.
5. If you do fail, despite your best efforts, take time to learn from the experience. Figure out a way to do things differently the next time. Then put the failure behind you.
Chances are, you will not fail. Because hope gives you wings, as well as a roadmap to reach your destination.
Here’s additional inspiration in the form of a poem by Shel Silverstein:
Listen to the Mustn'ts, child,
Listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts,
the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves,
Then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be.
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Shampa Dhar-Kamath is a consultant at Harappa Education
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