Sri Amma Bhagawan Sharanam
Sri  Amma Bhagawan Sharanam

Chapter 5: D for Determination: You will, You can

The train stopped over at some obscure railway station, around midnight. Not many in the train seemed to be noticing it, for they were all fast asleep. The cause of the holdup was not known. It was taking time.


“Shall we get down and find out what is happening?” asked Paramanand.  Sakthi was now so much impressed by the stories of Paramanand that he was ready to implicitly obey anything he said.


They both stepped out of the coach, walked along the dark, deserted railway platform. Some light shimmered from the station master’s room, from a distance. Despite the heat during the day, the night appeared cool. A few more people too got out of the train. A vendor was selling tea, carried in a kettle.


“Strange! You sell tea at midnight.” Paramanand commented to the tea vendor.


“What to do, Sir? I have people waiting at home for the money I bring in the morning, selling tea. Monopoly business at this hour for me, you see! No one to compete. This train usually stops here for other trains to cross over. And passengers from the unreserved compartments are usually my customers. Do you want some tea, it is quite hot?” replied the vendor.


“Yes, why not. Give us some tea!” Paramanand paid for the tea.  It tasted like warm water. Still in the chill of the night, it was comforting.


“See, he is determined to make money for his family and he has a strategy to sell - sell during the midnight when there is no competition - though some sacrifices are involved,” Paramanand told Sakthi.


Paramanand continued. “We need to be passionate about what we want…I mean our desires. Our desires are the propelling forces that move us forward.  All achievements, discoveries, innovations, and inventions in the history of humankind have come about, only from people, who had strong desires and great dreams. Our beliefs that we would have what we desired will keep us sustained in our efforts. A clear image of the outcome of our efforts – our seeing the outcome - will bring in the ultimate result.

Some wise man said: ‘Whatever you want to create in your life is yours for the making. As long as you desire it enough and allow your will to guide you, you can have and be whatever your heart desires. The only one who can put limits on your personal will is ‘yourself.’ Develop and encourage your will to create and all the forces of nature within and without will help you bring your desire to pass.”


“Yes, I remember, even my principal in the school had talked about this quite often. Many, like me, had ignored it at that time,” Sakthi confessed.


“Absolutely! Most of us wish a lot of things to happen in our life. But we lack the determination to achieve them. By the way, do you browse the internet?”


“Yes, I do, but not very often. I hardly got any time, at my level in the school.”


“In fact, I am working on a project to compose a book on some of the notable personalities who got it to the summit. Not all of them were born with silver spoons in their mouths. They had worked hard to be there. I had researched the Internet for inspiring stories about the Power of Determination. Thither is a flood of real-life stories of various people who accomplished great things, despite heavy odds. Among the several accounts I read, I would wish to share with you just one of them. Shall I?”


Sakthi nodded. The tea vendor was doing a brisk sale and was commenting that at least one more train will pass over. “So, we will have some more time here,” said Paramanand and began his next story.


 “Glen Cunnigham was only eight, studying in a school. He had a duty to be performed for the school every day in the early morning before the school started working. That was to ignite the coal stove to heat the school building. One day, someone had put petrol in the storage can instead of kerosene meant to be used as a fuel. When Glen tried to fire the stove, it caught fire, which spread to the whole building.


Glen was caught in the fire. Seeing the flame rising in the sky, the local people rushed to the school. They saw Glen in the middle of the flame and pulled him out of the fire, but not before his skin was badly burnt. The fire had severely burnt the flesh on his knees and shins, and all his toes on his left foot had gone.   He was taken to the infirmary in a hopeless condition, where he was declared beyond redemption. The doctors found that he had lost his motor ability below his waist, and his thin left legs dangled without any life in it. They believed that his life was in danger. His brother, Floyd, only thirteen had died in the same fire.


Accidentally, the semi-conscious Glen had overheard the conversation between the doctor and his mother about his hopeless condition. He decided he wouldn’t die, but survive, somehow. The doctors clearly opined that Glen might remain crippled for his lifetime. Again, Glen decided he wouldn’t remain crippled. After the initial treatment, he was discharged from the hospital. His mother gave massages to his crippled legs every day, without any improvement.


Yet, Glen determined to remain strong.


Over the following couple of years, his condition gradually improved, and he was put in a wheelchair. Every day, his mother took him to the yard outside their house, and there he would sit idly, watching the yard, sitting in the wheelchair. One day, he decided to attempt walking. He flung himself from the wheelchair, dragged his crippled legs, pulled himself up to the fence, and raised himself up on the fence. With great effort, holding the fence, he dragged himself along the fence and little by little walked along though he had excruciating pain in the process.


He determined to repeat this every day.


With persistence and purpose, aided by his daily massages, he soon acquired the power to stand up first and then to walk, little by little, and bit by bit, to run even. He was so determined that he started running to the school even every day.  He never wavered from his determination.  By the time he finished his schooling and joined the college, he was sufficiently strong enough to join the college track team as a runner.   


His life changed forever, and he achieved several feats.

  • In the high school, he set records for the mile.
  • While studying at Kansas University, he refused all offers of scholarships and preferred to pay for his education on his own.
  • When he was a senior in the college, he set the world record of 4:06.8 for the mile and held seven of the top 13 records for running the mile.
  • When he was a sophomore, he ran the 1500 meter race at the 1932 Olympics, but finished fourth, due to a severe cold. In the next 1936 Berlin Olympics, he got silver in the 1500 meters. He shared his room with Jesse Owens, another renowned sprinter, with whom he developed a deep friendship. In 1936, he also set the world record in the 800-m run.
  • He received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States in 1933.
  • He was nicknamed the "Kansas Flyer", the "Elkhart Express" and the "Iron Horse of Kansas".
  • During 1936, he was voted the “Most Popular Athlete” by his fellow athletes
  • He got a Master’s degree from the University of Iowa and a doctorate degree from the New York University.
  • He won 21 of 31 races at Madison Square Gardens and set an indoor mile record in 1938.
  • He retired from his running career in 1940 (when the Olympics were cancelled) and continued a teaching career in Iowa.
  • He served in the Navy for two years during the World War II
  • He spent the rest of his life running the Glenn Cunningham Youth Ranch for Troubled kids in Kansas, USA.  Before he died in 1988, it is believed that he raised nearly 9000 children on his ranch.
  • Cunningham has a park named after him in his hometown of Elkhart, Kansas.

Look at the metamorphosis in his life because he was so determined.”

As Paramanand finished the story, the second train too passed over the station, must have been an express train, getting the priority clearance for the track. As the conductor blew his whistle for the train to leave, they rushed to get into the train.




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