"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world.In fact, it's the only thing that ever has." Helen Keller
Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey, shared the importance of going first... “The journey of the hero is about the courage to seek the depths; the image of creative rebirth; the eternal cycle of change within us; the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know. The hero journey is a symbol that binds, in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas, the spiritual quest of the ancients with the modern search for identity, always the one, shape-shifting yet marvellously constant story that we find.”
How Jadev Payeng Planted a Forrest in the desert
In 1979 a teenage boy in northeast India single-handedly began a conservation legacy that the whole world would come to admire. One day after a storm, the young Jadav Payeng came across dozens of dead snakes on a barren sandbar along his island home of Majuli on the Brahmaputra River.
The snakes had been washed ashore in the squall and subsequently died from exposure on the harsh eroded expanse of shoreline. His home was constantly under threat of disappearing due to soil erosion along its riverbanks from the affects of deforestation and severe flooding.
Payeng’s compassion for the snakes and his distress at the cause of their suffering motivated him to plant 20 bamboo shoots along the deserted shore. Every day he planted more trees, bringing in seeds from the outer forest until the plantings on the sandbar reached maturity to germinate themselves.
For forty years, Jadav Payeng has been planting trees along his island in the Brahmaputra River. He has become known as The Forest Man of India because his dedication has created an incredible forest reserve covering 1,360 acres!
The forest even attracts Bengal tigers, rhinos, deer, and a seasonal herd of elephants that come to birth to their calves. Today he is extending his forest project into other degraded areas of the island region.
Payeng has become a shining example all over the world, of how one person’s committed actions can mitigate the actions of many. Today he says the forest feels like his family—what an amazing connection with nature.
Live and Leave a Legacy like Piers Sellars
Piers Sellers, who passed away on Dec. 23 more than a year after learning he had pancreatic cancer, leaves behind a dynamic legacy at NASA.
As an astronaut, he helped build the International Space Station. As a manager, he helped lead hundreds of scientists. And as a public figure, he was an inspiration to many for his optimistic take on humanity's ability to confront Earth's changing climate.
But his most lasting contributions will be in the field where he began his career: science.
After learning of his cancer diagnosis, Sellers took on a much higher public profile when a January 2016 op-ed he wrote in The New York Times resonated deeply with people around the world. The piece described how his diagnosis affected his approach to our changing climate. It captured both the depth of his thinking on the topic and his pragmatic optimism.
"There is no convincing, demonstrated reason to believe that our evolving future will be worse than our present, assuming careful management of the challenges and risks," Sellers wrote. "History is replete with examples of us humans getting out of tight spots. The winners tended to be realistic, pragmatic and flexible; the losers were often in denial of the threat."
Sellers wrote that he considered all the ways he could spend his final months on Earth, but then reflected on his career and made his choice.
"Very quickly, I found out that I had no desire to jostle with wealthy tourists on Mount Everest, or fight for some yardage on a beautiful and exclusive beach, or all those other things one toys with on a boring January afternoon," he wrote. "Instead, I concluded that all I really wanted to do was spend more time with the people I know and love, and get back to my office as quickly as possible."
In the final year of his life, Sellers gave dozens of interviews about his grounded yet hopeful perspective, culminating in an appearance in the documentary, "Before the Flood," released this fall. The message resonated, Hartman said, because of its authenticity.
"There was no artifice. He was exactly what he said he was. When you're in the public arena, that's so rare," Hartman said. "Here is this incredibly accomplished NASA scientist. He never diverted into hyperbole, he never exaggerated for effect. He said what the science was showing and what conclusions could be drawn from that at this stage in a way that people could understand. He understood it so deeply that it was like falling off a log for him. And I think the public recognized that."
Sellers' enthusiasm for NASA's role in understanding our home planet was apparent until the end. In an interview at Goddard earlier this year, he summed up his thoughts on working at NASA.
"We're very fortunate working in the field that we do," he said. "It's incredibly fascinating and exacting and interesting, just the things we do day to day. And the bond among scientists in the group, the whole (Goddard Earth Sciences Division), all 1,500 people, is very strong, from the most junior post-doc up to management. And, you know, most of my friends are at work. Every day I work with my friends. I love it."
To summarise the power of one person, I will tune you into the insights and wisdom of Helen Keller. She became blind and deaf as a result of a childhood illness, learned to communicate with hearing people by having signals pressed into her palm, reading lips by way of touch, reading and writing Braille, and eventually speaking audibly. If she can share this message, then so can you.
- Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
- The world is not moved only by the mighty shoves of the heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
- The true test of a character is to face hard conditions with the determination to make them better.
- True teaching cannot be learned from textbooks any more than a surgeon can acquire his skill by reading about surgery.
- Education should train the child to use his brains, to make for himself a place in the world and maintain his rights even when it seems that society would shove him into the scrap-heap.
- While they were saying it couldn’t be done, it was done.
I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.
CALL TO ACTION
What is your calling? Is it to look after your front doorstep like Jadev Payang, planting trees in a desert wasteland for 20 years. Or is it to leave a legacy like Piers Sellars and inspire future generations to look after what we already have.
If you know what your calling is.. Share it in the comments.
This is directly referenced from the best-selling amazon SelfCare Book "Lifestyle Medicine For the People" by Rory Callaghan. If you would like to read more content like this. Grab the free online chapters of the book or a hard copy.
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