Helen Keller and Making the Impossible Possible

by | Nov 7, 2022 | Giants

My First contact with Helen Keller’s work

I first learned about Helen Keller when I went to High School in the US and read her biography in a vocabulary building class. 

It was the same class, in which I also first learned about Maya Angelou.

What struck me, and what I could relate to, was the feeling of alienation and feeling misunderstood by the adults around growing up.

I could feel her little soul just not understanding what was asked of her and I still remember the moment where she understood that there was a way to communicate with the outside world, as if I had experienced it myself.

What I Noticed & What I Kept

What I found so fascinating about her story was, that it showed me, that there is more than one way to do things.

Often it feels like to lose a sense, would mean to lose access to life, but what I seem to remember from her and also heard from other people who can’t see, is that it sharpens your other senses.

For us, as people who can see and hear, it seems almost impossible to imagine thinking without these abilities, yet Helen Keller showed us that she can, that we all could.

So, looking at her life really opens us to a much more profound question of what it really is that we need to be of service in this world.

And I think the answer is not that much. All we really need is to believe in ourselves and our power, everything else can be substituted for.

And all the cracks, all the painful experiences of limitations that we make, are what makes our perspective unique and helpful to shine a light on all facets of humanity.

My Wish for You

Often we see ourselves as somewhat faulty, not whole, because of our experiences or because we experience limits to what our bodies and minds can do.

When we put our attention to what’s missing, we miss out on seeing the opportunities we have in all other areas.

If we stay stuck in self-pity, we are the ones who limit our abilities.

As someone who was diagnosed with Epilepsy as a teenager myself and who has been on medication since, I know what it feels like not to be able to do everything that other people can do.

Especially as a teenager, it was hard to not have a first drink with everybody else and to not be able to join in on the collective experiences of my peers.

But it also allowed me to watch what was going on from the outside, and showed me parts that I was also lucky to not be a part of.

In Sociology, this gets addressed in the standpoint theory, which is used to dismantle systems of power.

People belonging to marginalized groups often have a much better understanding of how societies work, than those who are fully emerged in them.

Every perspective is valid and carries beauty. Every door that closes opens another.

Each of us cannot be everything, see everything, experience everything.

Yet, sometimes it can make us jealous that other people can do other things.

In those moments, we can recognize that it is OK to be jealous, and angry and sad that we experience limitations to what is possible for us.

And then we can also come back to recognizing all the things we do have, and be 100% sure that the person we are jealous of is jealous of us in another way.

Helen Keller, a Source of Inspiration

Helen Keller had the privilege of growing up in a family that was able to help her overcome the obstacles she had to face when she lost her abilities to hear and see.

She used these privileges to show all of us that life has much more to give than we think.

She also reminds us to concentrate on what we have and can do instead of limiting ourselves with jealousy or focusing on our limitations.

We all have superpowers and a unique perspective which are beneficial to ourselves and everyone else.

Let’s use them and each contribute in our own ways.

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