Activated - - NEWS - By Elsa Sichrovsky

One of the great­est gifts my fa­ther gave me—un­in­ten­tion­ally—was wit­ness­ing the courage with which he bore ad­ver­sity. He was al­ways un­shaken, com­pletely tran­quil, the same ebul­lient, laugh­ing, jovial man. — Ben Okri (b. 1959) Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other rem­edy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our mis­for­tunes, the greater is their power to harm us. — Voltaire (1694–1778)

The weather was per­fect, and most of my friends were look­ing for­ward to a re­lax­ing hol­i­day week­end, but not me. A re­cent bout of ill­ness had left me far be­hind in my school­work, and I faced a moun­tain of projects, re­ports, and as­sign­ments to com­plete be­fore the end of the month. I felt over­whelmed and un­der­charged.

Af­ter sev­eral hours of fran­tic work, I still hadn’t made much head­way, so I de­cided that some time in na­ture might lift my spir­its, and I headed to­ward a large nearby park. The usu­ally quiet lanes and lawns were alive with par­ents and chil­dren, and their ex­cited laugh­ter and voices filled the air.

I had been walk­ing for some time when a child’s ea­ger squeal caught my at­ten­tion. I turned to see a fa­ther play­ing soc­cer with his young son, who looked about three years old. The lit­tle boy ran wildly around the field, kick­ing and chas­ing the ball. He of­ten didn’t even make con­tact with the ball, and he missed many of the shots his fa­ther passed him, but he con­tin­ued play­ing with such pas­sion and en­thu­si­asm that I couldn’t help but smile.

Af­ter watch­ing for a while, I no­ticed some­thing un­usual about the fa­ther’s right arm. While the rest of his body moved nim­bly with him as he ran and kicked, his right hand and arm hung mo­tion­lessly by his side. Un­daunted, he mo­tioned to his son with his one good arm and passed him an­other shot.

I headed home in the set­ting sun with the pair’s in­fec­tious laugh­ter still echo­ing in my ears. I don’t think that fa­ther would con­sider him­self a great moral teacher, but un­be­knownst to him, that Sun­day af­ter­noon he be­came my in­spi­ra­tion. His cheer­ful, self­less ex­am­ple put my petty prob­lems in per­spec­tive and en­cour­aged me to face my chal­lenges with the same spirit of courage and faith. Elsa Sichrovsky is a high school stu­dent and lives with her fam­ily in Tai­wan.

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