Sunday, February 17, 2008

Amazing Resilience

What will you do if you are diagnosed with cancer at the age of 25? Lance Armstrong was not made to quit, but to fight.

In his inspirational memoir, Lance Armstrong, an American cyclist traces his struggle with cancer, life and the bike. It's not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life celebrates the undaunted courage and resilience of the human soul.

Lance Armstrong was born on September 18, 1970 at Plano, Texas in USA. He is the second rider to win the Tour De France titles in five consecutive years from 1999 to 2003.

He began his career as a cyclist in 1992 when he joined the Motorola Team. He won stages of the Tour De France in 1993 and 1995 but withdrew from three of four Tours attempted from 1993 to 1996.

Immediately after the 1996 Tour, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. After a series of combats with cancer through surgery and chemotherapy, he came to back into life fighting all odds against his survival.

He made a dramatic comeback by winning the Tour of Luxembourg in 1998. Next year, he attempted the Tour De France and became the second American to win the title for an American team. In 2003 he won his fifth consecutive Tour de France, thereby setting his name against the cycling champion Miguel Indurain.

A moving tale about life and survival, written in a direct style stating the facts, this book is a token of hope against the killer cancer. He fought cancer with the same spirit that he showed in mastering the bike on difficult terrain and emerged champion.

Yellow song bird

She was born on a rainy afternoon. People came to see her cursing their bad luck. Rain brought good yield and was a blessing for the soil, but wasn't it unlucky for a child to be born during day? The Little yellow bird smiled never guessing how the bird clan welcomed her. Even her mother thought she was unlucky for the very knowledge of her being was a pain to her mother. One day the baby would grow up and ask her mother, "If I were a pain to you, why didn't you kill me?"

But she knew her father would never kill her. He loved her fondly and named her a lucky name selected with care. Her mother believed that the name was unlucky too and screamed at her father. She was proved right when within an year he died. He came home one day complaining of body ache and died within a few days. May be he died on a rainy day too, the baby thought. She never heard of him except on rare occasions and that made her cry.

The bird clan always treated her as different. She was unlucky, they said. "Killed her father", they would whisper to their children. So one day she was taken home by her grandparents who belonged to another clan. Her roots remained there but she had to go. So she took with her the only heirloom, a feather belonging to her father.

The new life in the new clan wasn't very exciting. Everyday people would pass by and remark, "oh, this is the little unlucky bird" and she would stare at them with her big eyes. But as she grew up she learnt how to be happy but no one liked her being happy. "She's so happy; let's take away from her happiness". So her precious toys were given to poor children, her beautiful clothes to those who had none, her books to those who could not afford books. For a while she cried and protested but then giving became her nature. She held on to nothing- the past she frittered away, her books she gave away, her jewels and gifts she shared.

The bird clan expected only giving from her because one day like her father she would die too. They expected her to exist for them and then die. Whatever she did was treated with contempt and disdain. Others praised their children before her. Fathers sang praises of their children's small achievements and she had none to say anything good about her. Everyone talked about how ugly she looked and how she would sit still without saying anything.

Then one day a traveller came who heard her singing to herself and wondered at the softness of her voice and her flair for music. He took her with him and taught her music. The others in the clan stood and said " Now what bad luck will she bring him?". After a month he went away but the fire he had stirred in her heart remained. So she learnt how to fly just to be alone and practise her music. Never did she sang before those in her clan. Yet the trees, the night and the stars became her friends, who listened and praised her songs.

Soon other birds listened too and praised her flair for music but her own clan would say with certainty that it was all nonsense. So one day when a great musician praised her, the clan leader put her in a cage and kept two birds to guard her. She asked herself, "what have I done in my life to deserve so much of torment , contempt from other people and sadness?" She sat and cried. Why didn't my mother kill me? why? why? She sat in the cold rain, who tried to soothe her with its icy fingers. She would sit and shudder as the warmth in her decreased day by day.

One day the traveller saw her in his dreams and thought "Let me go and see what she do with the music that I taught her". When he reached the cage, he saw her sitting still with her eyes closed. When he called her by her name, there was no response. By the time he had opened the cage and touched her wings, her wings were frozen and dead. It was still raining as if she was in the realm of clouds singing along with them another melody.

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