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3 short stories

November 10, 2010
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WHO SURVIVED?

The first one is about Victor Frankl, Nazi concentration camp survivor and author of classic, Man’s search for Meaning (a book today listed in top 25 books that helped shape America) –

Victor was in concentration camp for years. His whole family including his pregnant wife, his parents, siblings were killed during the camp. When he was liberated he weighed 89 pounds. He went home, healed and wrote Man’s search for Meaning in 9 days. One of the core message that he delivered through his book was that last of human freedom is Choice. It is to choose what you want your life to be about. But it is also to choose moment to moment what you want your life to be about. He said that the people who tended to survive in the concentration camp were those who got up in the morning and gave somebody else a crust of bread, a kind word, a vision to their beloved. Those who had something outside of their own self-interest that was part of their reason to get up in the morning.

WHAT WOULD I CHANGE?

The second is by Richard Leider (Founder and Chairman of The Inventure Group, and consistently rated as one of the top executive educators and coaches in the world) –

Richard has done interviews with elders (those over the age of 60) over many years. In fact he does it every alternate year and has been doing it for over 40 years now. One of the themes of his interviews is – “What would you have done differently if you were to live your life over again?”. He says that there have been three responses in general.

  • They would be more reflective. Reflective as in, they would step back and take a look at the big picture of life more often. People do not do it that often. They do it only when they are in some sort of crisis or trouble.
  • They would take more risk the second time around. And the risk they would take are not the risk of  climbing mount Everest, kayaking etc but risks of intensity and voice. They would bring themselves into equation relative to their parenting, their relationship, love and their work.
  • Lastly they would have liked to discern early in life what mattered to them.  They want their life to matter. They want to leave a thumb print or a mark. And it does not have to be something big but something personal.

TWO MOST IMPORTANT DAYS

Third and last story is that of Kampala, a 98-year-old man from Hazda tribe (oldest living hunter gatherers in east Africa). This time again Richard had gone to east Africa –

We were sitting around the fire and through a translator talking about how to become elders, gain wisdom. Kampala is the oldest person in the tribe and he has lived for twice the number of years an average person in the tribe would live for. We were trying to draw out pearls of wisdom. Kampala eventually gets tired, takes my hand and takes me away for a walk. We walked away quietly and after sometime he asked what are the two most important days in ones life. I thought for a while and said, as we all would say birth and death. He says argh.. you travel in plane, ride land rover and you do not even know the answer to this question !!! Well the first one you got right, birth. The second is the day when you discover why you were born. You feel part of the community and find your place in the community. I was awestruck, I could see deep wisdom in his hands, which were gnarled and veined from a century of living in the bush.

As E.B. White had said –

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy; if the world were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I wake up each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it very hard to plan the day.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Achal Kothari permalink
    November 10, 2010 16:46

    “I was awestruck”

    and so am I. Just imagining what Richard would have felt at that moment thrills me.
    But a doubt comes if what he is saying is true or made up ?

    Like

    • November 10, 2010 17:25

      Till you have doubts regarding the veracity of the statement/ answer itself, does it really matter if Kampala worded them or not? Anyways, what he is saying is not made up. This is true according to Hazda culture. For them the second most important day is the day of realization.

      Like

      • Achal Kothari permalink
        November 10, 2010 17:39

        Hmm .. that is true for many of the cultures I know and it wont be wrong to generalize it for all the cultures ..as in the day of realization is the most important day, infact more important than being born..though that might look like a paradox .. but I have found that in atleast Buddhist and Jain culture and to some extent in Islam as i have seen it

        Like

      • Achal Kothari permalink
        November 10, 2010 17:44

        and it matters who worded them as “Kampala eventually gets tired, takes my hand and takes me away for a walk. We walked away quietly and after sometime he asked…”

        Imagine the situation and you will know. The power is not just in the truth but the way it is revealed to the listener may have a lasting impression ..You can draw various parallels from your own life

        Like

  2. November 10, 2010 18:17

    (1.) 🙂 Yes of course the core of all genuine religions, cultures (way of life, told) is the same..

    (2.) Yes it does matter. For me it matters that Kampala worded them coz it fortifies the fact that wisdom is clearly a very important (and yet today neglected) part of education.

    Like

  3. Roy permalink
    November 10, 2010 19:18

    Classics

    Like

  4. Bharat permalink
    November 11, 2010 23:08

    Konsti, it always feels good to read your blogs !
    Cheers and keep writing 🙂

    Like

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