In 1934, Richard Byrd spent an Antarctic Winter, alone in his cabin near the South Pole in complete darkness. Other than almost dying from carbon monoxide poisoning and constant peril of freezing to death, he lived and returned to tell the story of extreme isolation.
In 1942 / 1943, Irena Sendlerowa smuggled 2500 children out of Warsaw and placed them with Polish families. After being caught by The Gestapo, having her legs broken and narrowly escaping execution, she said in an interview, “The term 'hero' irritates me greatly. The opposite is true. I continue to have pangs of conscience that I did so little.”
In 1960, Dashrath Majhi started carving out a road through the hills to the nearest town from his village in India after his wife passed away due to delayed medical care. 22 years later he single handedly carved a road through the hills in rural India, literally with a chisel and a hammer, reducing travel time to the town almost 10 times.
In these stories, the stakes are different, the motivations are different, but all of these tell a tale of a human prevailing against extraordinary and cruel situations; A common thread. I would argue, this thread is the essence of grace.
Most of us, living in our bubbles are mostly unaware of extraordinary acts of perseverance, kindness, humility & love because they are filtered through our carefully corroborated frameworks. We have stopped nurturing the stories that we come across, and listen to the strangers we meet. When it’s right in front of us, we can’t relate to the most extraordinary stories we hear be it real or unreal. We can’t relate because our empathy has gone dry and our imagination brittle. And there is no one to blame the times itself.
Maybe it’s time to water the plants again.