Death is a subject we seldom discuss yet we know it is inevitable.
A few years ago I attended a requiem mass for a relative at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi. It was a teary and somber service. A sniff would start in one corner, a pain-laden sigh in another and soon, the entire building would erupt in wailing.
The celebrant took to the rostrum. After a measured pause he asked;
“How many people here want to go to heaven?”
We all raised our hands.
He then asked;
“How many people want to die?”
No one raised their hand. Realizing the irony, we burst into laughter. He presided over the sermon uninterrupted.
I recently read a book by Dr. Ralph Pausch aptly titled The Last Lecture. Dr. Pausch was a professor of Computer Science at the Carnegie Mellon University. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006. In 2007, it metasized into stage four cancer. Bummer – He had at most 6 months of good health. He passed on soon after.
In his Last Lecture , he talks of brick walls:
“The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show us how badly we want something.”
He was referring to a point early in his career when Disney Land rejected his application to work for them. A few years later, after consistent attempts, they hired him as a consultant.
It got me thinking, we all face setbacks [brick walls] at some point in life. For Mandela, it was 27 years in prison. For Jack Ma and J.K. Rowling it was several rejection letters from Harvard and publishers, respectively. For Malala, it was an unassailable militia and a bullet through the head.
What makes these people (and many others) so inspirational is their fortitude to share their story of brick walls and how they surmounted them.
I’d like to know, what is your story of a brick wall and how did you surmount it?
What is someone’s story of a brick wall that you have read/heard/witnessed that inspired you to surmount your own?
PS: It doesn’t have to be as grand as 27 years in prison! No pressure!