A woman born in 1880 becoming a world-famous speaker and author, traveling to over 40 countries, being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame is basically unheard of. Women of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s were little known. However, we all know Helen Keller, not because of her disabilities but in spite of them.
Keller born with both sight and hearing contracted a disease that left her blind and deaf, and therefore, mute before she was two. When Anne Sullivan arrived to teach 7-year old Helen to communicate, Keller was frustrated. The exasperation was not because she didn’t understand the signs Sullivan was making in her hand, even though she didn’t. It was because she did not realize that every object has a word associated with it. As soon as she made that connection, she wore her teacher out demanding the names of all the objects she could find.
As an adult Helen often spoke of the joy life gave her. She expressed gratitude for the abilities she possessed and named curiosity and imagination as two of her priced possessions. Her philosophy — happiness comes from within — is difficult to argue with, especially when we know her story.
I find myself completely in awe of her perspective, her bravery, her determination. The shocking thing about all of her accomplishments is they started with curiosity and imagination. A curious attitude asks, “How can we solve this with what we have?” Imagination challenges the assumption, “I can’t do this!” Curiosity and imagination expand your perspective.
In a world, where women did not have much influence and disabled people were labeled useless, Helen Keller became an advocate, an inspiration, and a trail blazer. It all started with a little curiosity and a lot of imagination.