This week has been difficult, just like that last few. It seems at times they get a bit harder each week. The things that get in the way seem larger each week, almost like mountains. This week has been about discipline and a couple of weeks ago it was about persistence. It seems like the harder I push towards discipline, the more I fail at persistence. Can I do both at the same time? Can I move mountains?
Meet Dashrath Manjhi. He was a poor man in India that worked farming another man’s field. Each day as he worked, his wife would make the trek around the mountain to bring him food and water. One day in 1960, his wife was making the trek to bring him supplies when she slipped and fell down the mountain. She was severely injured, but the only way to get her to medical help was around the mountain – 70 kilometers. The laborer from Gehlour Hills in Bihar, India wanted his people to have easier access to doctors, schools, and opportunity. Armed with only a sledge hammer, chisel, and crowbar, he single-handedly began carving a road through the 300-foot mountain that isolated his village from the nearest town.
I can imagine that there were those who did not believe and would criticize his desire to improve their lives. He would start early in the morning, chip the mountain for a few hours, then work on the fields, and come back to work on the mountain again. He would hardly sleep. The villagers gradually began to respect him, and started donating food to his family. He eventually quit his wage job, and started spending as much time as he could, breaking the mountain. When his wife fell ill, he was not able to make the 75 kilometer journey and she died. The loss made him more determined than ever to complete the road through the mountain. After 10 years the villagers were able to see a cleft forming and some of them began to help Dashrath.
After 22 years, Dashrath Das Manjhi, the common man, the landless laborer, had broken the mountain: he had carved out a road 360 feet long, 30 feet wide. Wazirganj, with its doctors, jobs, and school, was now only 5 kilometers away. People from 60 villages in Atri could use his road.
I find Dashrath’s story supremely encouraging. With the constant din of the doubters, naysayers and those who were eager to see him fail, what made him go on? A lot has been said about love throughout the course and I understand that love brings sacrifice. We sacrifice for our children, for our wives and for our futures. Dashrath sacrificed for his wife and for those who lived on his side of the mountain so that they would never have to live through a tragedy like his. At the end of the day, those “mountains” that are in my way are not so large and formidable. I want to remember Dashrath who took down a mountain using only a hammer and chisel. I want to push on using the discipline and the persistence that this man possessed. Down the road of my life I will see the cleft in the old life and new inroads to the future in my dreams.