Legendary writer and activist Helen Keller stands out not only for her work, but also for her inspirational sayings about dealing with the challenges of life and fate.
Her central message to the world remains encapsulated in her words: “I thank God for my handicaps. For through them, I have found myself, my work and my God.”
Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States. She was an American author, activist, and a lecturer, and the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree.
At birth, Keller was a healthy child, but at 19 months of age, she lost her hearing and sight to an unknown disease, most likely meningitis or scarlet fever. The plight rendered the young Helen nervous and timid as she had difficulty expressing herself.
As Helen grew up, the frustration of not being able to make herself understood led to seriously rebellious behavior. When she didn’t get her way, she would often resort to angry outbursts, breaking and throwing everything around her.
Keller’s only friend during this trying period was a black child named Martha Washington. Martha was the daughter of the Keller family’s cook. Perhaps because the two were children, Martha found a way to reach Helen with their own language.
Helen’s frequent tantrums still made her parents extremely worried. Helen’s devoted mother never gave up on her and constantly tried to find solutions to her daughter’s developmental difficulties.
When she was six years old, they took her to see Dr. Chisolm, a mystical doctor in Baltimore for treatment, but to no avail. Instead, the doctor advised that the family should find a teacher for Helen so that she could be educated. This proved to be a turning point in her journey.
When Helen turned seven, the Perkins School for the Blind recommended teacher Anne Sullivan to the Kellers, which marked the turning point in Hellen’s life.
It did not take long for 20 year-old semi-blind teacher to connect with Helen. With great care and patience, Anne gradually helped Helen to learn how to spell out alphabet letters in her palms. It played a significant role in easing up much of Helen ‘s stress and anger, which marked the beginning of a new chapter for her.
Under the guidance of Anne Sullivan, Helen made huge progress with her studies. With Anne ‘s encouragement, Helen later attended the Perkins School, and ultimately earned a degree from Radcliffe College.
This paved the way for her career afterwards, as a lecturer, author, and political activist.
Keller ‘s life itself was a miracle and her relentless striving forward has served as a source of inspiration for millions of people.
Even today, Keller’s words have the ability to inspire and transform our view of the world.
- Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.
- Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.
- When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one that has opened for us.
- Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.
- Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.
- Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
- Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.
- Knowledge is love and light and vision.
- All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.
- Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.