Life is a shipwreck. But we must not forget to sing in the life boats – Voltaire
Inspiration comes in all sizes, colors, from all geographies and ages and myriad corners of the world – and has the power to knock you off your feet with breathtakingly beautiful force. As a Motivational Speaker for the youth, I have looked for stories far and wide, to move my audiences. And none of them are as this little powerhouse of inspiration – Ayesha Chaudhary.
Let me tell you her story:
Ayesha Chaudhary passed away in January, 2015 after a long battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. She was just 17 and had battled the disease since birth. But not only did she make it to sweet 17 (doctors said she won’t make past 1!), she also found love and joy, wrote poems and poetry and has even published a book! (link at the end of the article) Her disease was like a birth mark she never could shrug off her. But she hid it exceptionally well under the garb of her optimism and never complain attitude! The odds doctors gave her were highly stacked against her! But odds are what? Statistics. Mostly they don’t lie. But if you have the courage to be an outlier, and then have the courage to live that life – what are odds to you really!
In her sweet, short 8 minute inspirational talk – she gives the odds of her being alive, talks about miracles and discusses her mantra of life. Watch the inspirational talk here:
Here are 5 inspiring lessons you can take back from her talk:
1. Believe in miracles:
Medical science and statistics prove that it is a miracle that she still breathes and walks. And she believes that miracles are good things that are unlikely to happen. So true!
1st miracle – She was born with Immune Deficiency. Only one in a million are born with this rarity which reduces their life expectancy to 1 year.
2nd miracle – she had to undergo a bone marrow transplant at the most tender age of 6 months. And it is a miracle that she survived. Only 30% people survive the surgery but she did!
3rd miracle – There was only 10% chance that she would develop Pulmonary Fibrosis (hardening of lungs) as a side effect of the surgery and yet again she did!
Rely on the miracle of life!
2. Live in the moment:
It is amazing how a small child talks about such a profound lesson of life with such ease, that too with the example of her good times with her puppy (she calls him Rolo). When we see life from a distance, we misinterpret it as a cumbersome and difficult journey to undertake. But when we take it hour by hour, moment by moment, it all seems much easier isn’t it? Don’t we keep saying ‘time just flew away’? That is what happens when you learn to live in the moment like her!
She forgot all the pain of her syringes, her illness and sadness when she played with her pets and cuddled into them. She concentrated on ‘what she could still do’ and not on ‘what she could no longer do’ and hence went ahead and got a photoshoot on a wheelchair since she couldn’t go to school! It is very easy to sit and cry over things we can’t do. But it takes courage to stand up and decide that we choose happiness over everything else in this world and do the things we still can. And she did just that.
3. Opportunities in Difficulties:
Chances never elude us if we are smart and quick enough to recognize and catch hold of them. Being confined to a wheelchair, she couldn’t do much. But that gave her loads of time to pursue her passions.
And it is true that when God takes away something, He gives something else in such an immense quality and quantity that you could live your whole life on that one gift. Aisha is a brilliant painter and spends a lot of her time painting. Infact, she even claims that she has painted more in her illness than in her wellness. If she can do it, why can’t we?
4. Never forget to dream:
Dreams are something that should be chased incessantly because they do come true. And there is nothing wrong in dreaming huge. It doesn’t cost a dime!
Lying motionless in her bed, Aisha used to dream of walking to the market with friends, dancing at her cousin’s wedding, visualized her costume for that dance, running around with her dogs and much more. And she willed herself into all that.
Mind is not a very difficult thing to beat. All you need is that extra bit of effort. The power of the mind is limitless. All things happen twice. Once in your mind and once in reality.
5. Pets are the best medicine:
Only the one, who has ever experienced the magic in the love a pet could give, can understand the sentiments behind her statement. It is not a kind of love you would ever see in human beings and it gives you immense power to fight the pain. More than what you could imagine. That’s why she says, ‘Buy a dog when nothing else works’
It is really outstanding, the way Aisha has turned around her life and decided to think only about the good things and the positives. There will always be too much negativity to pull us down. And there will always be something to sing about, something to be grateful for. The pick is ours!
She believes that her life is in the middle of a shipwreck and now is the best time to sing in the life boats. And she is doing just that. The challenges that life has thrown at her have helped her live a more enriched and intense life than may be what we have lived so far. Happiness is not a gift we take, but a choice we make. She ends her awe-inspiringly awesome talk with an even beautiful quote,
“My soul would have no rainbow, if my eyes had no tears” (John Vance Cheney)
Here is the link to her 2nd INK Talk: Finding Happiness
She passed away shortly after that. You can see how she is all grown up. But in reality, she was very sick at the time and couldn’t breathe without a tube. But she wanted to look good in the pictures so she spoke without the tube anyway. She actually wanted to stand and talk, but her body couldn’t permit that strain! Let me tell you – there was not a single dry eye in the audience when she was done. In an auditorium filled with stalwarts, she got a resounding applause and a standing ovation.
She taught them the vanity of complaining and life and the power of acceptance that day. So if you are right now complaining about something, I hope this puts your life in perspective a little! More power to your soul Ayesha. You are a true rockstar, wherever you are!
Reminds me of these lines by Javed Akhtar (From the movie ‘Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara’)
Thoda ghum hai sabka qissa
Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa
Aankh teri bekaar hi nam hai
Har pal ek naya mausam hai
Kyun tu aise pal khota hai
Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai…
For translation and meaning, click here.
P.S – Get Ayesha’s book ‘Little Epiphanies’ here.