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His name was Ben Froston

“I met him in a hotel elevator in Atlanta, Georgia. As I stepped into the elevator, I noticed this cheerful-looking man, who had both legs missing, sitting in a wheel-chair in a corner of the elevator. When the elevator stopped at his floor, he asked me pleasantly if I would step to one corner, so he could manage his chair better. “So sorry,” he said, “to inconvenience you”-and a deep, heart-warming smile lighted his face as he said it.When I left the elevator and went to my room, I could think of nothing but this cheerful cripple. So I hunted him up and asked him to tell me his story. “It happened in 1929,” he told me with a smile. “I had gone out to cut a load of hickory poles to stake the beans in my garden. I had loaded the poles on my Ford and started back home. Suddenly one pole slipped under the car and jammed the steering apparatus at the very moment I was making a sharp turn. The car shot over an embankment and hurled me against a tree. My spine was hurt. My legs were paralysed.

“I was twenty-four when that happened, and I have never taken a step since.”

Twenty-four years old, and sentenced to a wheel-chair for the rest of his life! I asked him how he managed to take it so courageously, and he said: “I didn’t.” He said he raged and rebelled. He fumed about his fate. But as the years dragged on, he found that his rebellion wasn’t getting him anything except bitterness. “I finally realised,” he said, “that other people were kind and courteous to me. So the least I could do was to be kind and courteous to them.” I asked if he still felt, after all these years, that his accident had been a terrible misfortune, and he promptly said: “No.” He said: “I’m almost glad now that it happened.” He told me that after he got over the shock and resentment, he began to live in a different world. He began to read and developed a love for good literature. In fourteen years, he said, he had read at least fourteen hundred books; and those books had opened up new horizons for him and made his life richer than he ever thought possible. He began to listen to good music; and he is now thrilled by great symphonies that would have bored him before. But the biggest change was that he had time to think. “For the first time in my life,” he said, “I was able to look at the world and get a real sense of values. I began to realise that most of the things I had been striving for before weren’t worth-while at all.”

As a result of his reading, he became interested in politics, studied public questions, made speeches from his wheel-chair! He got to know people and people got to know him. Today Ben Fortson-still in his wheel-chair-is Secretary of State for the State of Georgia!”

When I read stories like this, I look at my life and I wonder if this guy can make it, why can’t I? It seems that a body, a thought, a look, can’t define a person. Each person is unique. Each person is beyond the body, the thoughts, the ideas… Thank you for reading. 

( The text in italic is by Dale Carnegie from the book “how to stop worrying and start living“)

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