Strive for a cherished goal | Sunday Observer

Strive for a cherished goal

5 September, 2021
Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev
Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev

It is strange but true that young people want to grow up and old people crave for eternal youth. However, all of us grow old and die. From whatever perspective you look at it, age is a central topic in human affairs. Nobody knows why young children tend to view aging as something exciting and we do not know why old people find life depressing with physical decline. To put it in a nutshell, we nearly always want to be an age we are not.

After reading many biographies, I came to the conclusion that despite typical ways of growth and behaviour at every age, there are always some people who break the pattern. They may be unusually early or unusually late in some respects. Whether living short busy lives or long happy ones, people have ignored imagined limitations of time. We can learn something from certain people who lived before us but did something memorable before their death.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a remarkable child prodigy. At the age of three he played the harpsichord and memorized passages by listening to them only once. He composed his first piece of music at the age of five. He had his first piece published when he was seven and he wrote his first opera when he was 12. By the time he was six, Mozart was an excellent pianist and violinist. He travelled all over Europe with his sister Maria Anna and performed for royalty.

Child prodigy

Like Mozart, Frederic Chopin was another child prodigy. He became a composer at the age of seven and performed one year later. He composed several piano pieces in different styles. His parents enrolled him in the Warsaw Conservatory of Music where he studied under the Polish composer Josef Elsner. He proceeded to Vienna where he performed his debut in 1829. Audiences were enthralled with his technical yet poetically expressive performances.

Thomas Alva Edison was another genius. At the age of ten he set up a laboratory in the basement of his father’s house and started his greatest inventing career in history. At the age of 12 he sold fruit, snacks, and newspapers on a train. Later he printed his own newspaper “Grand Trunk Herald.” At 15 he roamed the country as a ‘tramp telegrapher.’ Using the Morse code he sent and received messages over the telegraph. He invented the phonograph, the first machine that could record the sound of someone’s voice and play it back.

Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim the 21 miles from Dover, England to Cape Griz-Nez across the English Channel. She did not know how to swim until she was nine years old. At 12 she became the youngest world-record breaker in the 880-yard women’s freestyle swimming event in Indianapolis in 1919. At 17 she won the Olympic Gold Medal in Paris. However, she damaged her hearing during the channel swimming and went on to spend much of her life teaching deaf children in New York City. She died at the age of 98.

Chess master

Bobby Fischer was a record-setting chess master who became the youngest player to win the US Chess Championship at 14 and the first American-born player to win the World Chess Championship. He learned the game of chess at the age of six. He reportedly had an IQ of 181. He defeated Boris Spassky an eccentric genius who too had an IQ of 181. Despite his global popularity, Fischer’s controversial behaviour continued to make headlines. He died of kidney failure in 2008.

Most of us are familiar with Jane Austen’s novels. She was an English novelist whose books, set among the English middle and upper classes, are notable for their wit, social observations and insights into the lives of early 19th century women. She wrote her first novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ at the age of 21. She began to write as a teenager. She published ‘Sense and Sensibility (1811), Mansfield Park’(1814) and ‘Emm (1816). ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’ were published posthumously.

Margot Fonteyn began her dancing career at 42. Her dancing partner was the legendary Rudolf Nureyev. She was 17 when she first danced the title role in ‘Giselle.’ Her partner then was Robert Helpmann. At 33 she danced at Convent Garden with Rudolf Nureyev. Royal Ballet prima ballerina Margot Fonteyn and celebrated Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev created the most magnetic partnership in ballet history. They brought a special chemistry and artistry to their roles.

President Kennedy

At 43, John F. Kennedy became the youngest elected President of the United States. He was the 35th President who faced a number of foreign crises especially in Cuba and Berlin, but he managed to secure such achievements as the Nuclear Test-Ban and the Alliance for Progress. Kennedy’s famous closing words expressed the need for cooperation and sacrifice on the part of the American people. He said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” On 22 November 1963, Kennedy was shot dead while he was travelling in a motorcade to the Dallas Trade Mart.

At 53, Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first female Prime Minister. She was a controversial figure of conservative ideology during her time in office. During her three terms as Prime Minister, she cut social welfare programmes, reduced trade union power and privatized certain industries. She resigned in 1990 due to unpopular policy and power struggles in her party. She died on 8 April 2013 at the age of 87.

Epic struggle

At 65, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain for the first time and started an epic struggle against Hitler. Apart from being a politician he is considered a literary man who wrote ‘The River War, The World Crisis, Unrelenting Struggle’ and ‘The Dawn of Liberation.’

He was also a gifted amateur painter. His robust optimism was showcased in a speech he delivered in the House of Commons on 4 June 1940. He said, “We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Churchill’s words prompted the Labour MP Josiah Wedgwood to say, “That was worth 1,000 guns, and the speeches of 1,000 years.” Churchill’s potent spirit of perseverance and determination was summed up in one of his own maxims: “We must just KBO (Keep buggering on)”

Eubie Blake grew up to the sounds of ragtime music and before the turn of the century was playing in sporting houses. In the 1950s he demonstrated and lectured on ragtime music. At the age of 86 his fortunes were revived when John Hammond recorded the old man playing the piano and talking about his life. On the occasion of his 100th birthday, he said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” He died five days later.

All these men and women had a cherished goal and they succeeded in realizing their dreams. Their inspiration cannot be brushed aside. [email protected]