Vinita Dawra Nangia
All big things start small. Inspiration need not hit you on the head; it waits for you in everyday, mundane matters
All of us have our moments. But not everyone is observant or reflective enough to convert these into Eureka moments, as Archimedes did when he jumped out of his bath naked, to propound the Theory of Displacement.
Nor does everyone who gets knocked on the head by a falling apple, end up understanding the Law of Gravity like Newton. Most big things begin small; almost all major inspirations have been found in smaller things everyday mundane matters, which may seem inconsequential, but upon reflection, form a meaningful picture.
What is critical is an observant eye and a mind that is constantly alert and ticking questioning, reflecting, discussing and understanding. It is important to be able to rise above the immediate and personal moment, and be able to look at it in a larger context, which helps us evolve as stronger, better human beings.
All of us find our personal triggers in innocuous everyday moments, which may have a deep emotional impact on us. The wish to repeat happy moments, or the desire to avoid repeating depressing, humiliating ones can be a powerful trigger. A child’s innocent smile and trusting eyes can be a huge motivator for parents to live up to the faith a child reposes in them. So can the adoring eyes of a lover.
Happiness experienced by a small generous act can motivate one towards consistent philanthropy. When a lady in Boston started leaving blankets anonymously on benches on cold nights for homeless people, it triggered a movement of random acts of kindness and generosity.
Sometimes your will to fight the big battles of life comes from small things.Take the instance of German Communist Alois Pfaller’s persistent struggle against the Nazis, recounted in Laurence Rees’ Their Darkest Hour People tested to the extreme in WWII. When years later, Rees asked Alois what motivated him to stand up to the Nazis, despite merciless beatings and 11 years in concentration camps, he replied that all through childhood he had competed with his stepsister for his stepmother’s attention, but failed, since `a mother is a mother’. “And then I swore to myself, when you grow up, you have to fight against injustice, never mind against who, you always have to fight injustice… and with this, I had the ability to resist, and the ability to get through it nothing else.“
And so out of a sense of jealousy and alienation came the determination to fight for justice. He converted his deeply ingrained sense of hurt into a positive when he decided to fight all injustice.
That is the sign of a great individual, one who is able to elevate himself above present and personal circumstances and rather than avenge personal slights in a narrow, vindictive manner, or allow them to stigmatise him, decides to lock horns with the evil itself.
Closer home, Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign against injustice and the momentous role he played in the history of India was triggered by a small incident, when he was thrown off a train in South Africa. Humiliated and smarting from the injustice and racial slur, Gandhi decided to fight injustice, later hailing this incident as his “moment of truth“. The trigger that led Kalidasa to becoming the greatest Sanskrit poet and dramatist was skrit poet and dramatist was the scorn of his wife, Princess Vidyottama, for his ignorance and passion for her. When in 1871, noted Indian industrialist Jamsetji Tata was denied entry into the all-whites Watson Hotel in Mumbai, he built the Taj Mahal Hotel down the same road.
The ability to take on negativity and turn it to a positive learning, to be able to look at little positives and use them to spur you on to greater goodness, and to observe everyday phenomena and find deeper, scientific or spiritual meanings in them this is the stuff greatness is made of.
What are your everyday triggers? Are you noticing and reflecting upon how to turn these into your Eureka moments, or just sailing alongside, oblivious?