I love reading Sudha Murthy’s books. Few of my favorites include – How I Taught My Grandmother to Read, Grandma’s Bag of Stories, Magic of the Lost Temple, Here, There and Everywhere, and The Serpent’s Revenge.
I recently came across a story in one of her books that Mrs. Murthy’s sister had narrated to her. It was about two doctors, a father-son duo.
I am not sure how true the story is. But I am sharing it with you today because it taught me an important lesson.
This was during the days when, instead of anesthesia, chloroform was used to make people unconscious during surgeries. The father had invented anesthesia and wanted to experiment to see that it really worked. But there was no one who was willing to participate in the experiment. And without experimenting on a human being, the medicine could not be officially released in the market.
To help his father’s cause, the doctor-son, who had six fingers in one of his hands, asked him to operate the extra finger using the anesthesia he had invented.
Unfortunately, the father forgot to add one important chemical to the medicine which would have made it work perfectly.
However, the son, who felt immense pain while being operated – because of the absence of this one chemical – showed no agony on his face so that his father’s experiment would not fail.
Seeing the smile on the son’s face while undergoing the operation made people believe in the effectiveness of the anesthesia, and it was then successfully launched in the market.
When the father was crying after the surgery for causing pain to his son, the son consoled him and said, “For the welfare of others, I controlled my own pain.”
This story highlights the importance of “sacrifice” one needs to undergo at times for a bigger purpose and sometimes for the happiness of the ones you love.
There is a quote from the book Fight Club –
Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.
Consider the sacrifice that our armed forces make to keep us safe. Or the sacrifice that our doctors are making in protecting us in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are also many other stories of sacrifice that we have heard. Like that of Malala Yousafzai, who almost sacrificed her life for the sake of right to education for girls in Pakistan. Or that of Neerja Bhanot, who sacrificed her life as an Indian head purser while saving passengers on Pan Am Flight 73 which had been hijacked by terrorists. And then, we also know about Nelson Mandela who sacrificed a large part if his life in his fight against Apartheid (racial discrimination against non-Whites) in South Africa. There are also hundreds of stories of freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the sake of India’s freedom.
I also appreciate this idea of “sacrificing” for a bigger cause as a student and learner.
Whether it is spending hours and hours for practicing my dances even with my feet hurting, or spending my time honing my reading and writing skills even as my friends are hooked onto social media, I have realized the importance of doing the hard work now and bearing the pain now, so as to become a better performer and a wiser person in the process.
This goes well with the idea of compounding that I have learned from my father.
When it comes to money, compounding simply means we save and invest now to let our money grow over a long period of time.
In other words, even as we enjoy life in the present, we also save for the future, which is almost same as sacrificing something small in the present to gain something big in the future.
This also applies to building the right habits. The earlier we start, even if it is painful in the beginning, the easier it gets in building good habits for life.
Pelé, widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time, said –
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.
Also, as I read somewhere, one of the most important questions we should ask ourselves when working on our dreams may not be, “What am I willing to do to attain them?” but “What am I willing to give up?”
This is an important question I would like to leave you with.
Thank you for reading.