Amazing Stories of Ordinary People
Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak. ~Thomas Carlyle.
Everyone loves a good survival story … especially the ones where everyday people discover previously unrealized inner strength and resources to overcome great odds.
We relate to their struggles and hardships and sometimes they even show us the way to overcome our own obstacles; at the very least they give us hope that if they can make it through difficult, sometimes unimaginable circumstances, then surely we can to.
The unforgettable people I was introduced to while researching stories of extreme resilience for my new book Stepping Stones to Greater Resilience have inspired me to create a new category at IGG – Amazing Journeys of Ordinary People – because I believe we all benefit from the stories of every day heroes.
Everyday heroes are simply people who refuse to let adversity define them.
Some stories will be familiar; others new … but at the core of each, is someone who, in their own unique way, has exemplified extreme resilience by refusing to let overwhelming odds or adversity define them.
I can think of no more appropriate story to introduce our new series than the amazing journey of Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei
In 1996 a promising 19 years old professional ballerina Ma Li lost her right arm in a car accident. Her life would never be the same. Unable to face the new reality, her boyfriend walked away from her and Mi Li tried to kill herself … only to be saved by her parents.
Somehow Ma Li found the strength to live. She had to learn how to do everything again: how to write, comb her hair, cook, and wash clothes. She had to find a way to regain her independence.
Five years after the accident, with the passion for dance still in her heart Ma Li returned to the theater and found her soul mate Tao and the two of them set out to try and develop a unique dance performance for Ma Li.
Then in 2004 SARS outbreak happened in China and as a result all the theaters were closed. The young couple found themselves literally out in the cold and completely destitute.
One cold snowy night as the two huddled in an underpass waiting for the sunrise, Ma Li suddenly had the urge to dance in the snow with Tao. She had used her dance to tell him her story so many times before, but this time, after their “dance” ended, Tao suddenly realized that THIS should be her unique performance.
In September 2005 destiny took a hand when Ma Li met 21-year-old national Special Olympics cyclist Zhai Xiaowei.
When Zhai was 4 years old he fell off a tractor and lost his left leg. His father at the time asked little Zhai, “”The doctor will have to amputate your leg. Are you afraid?” Zhai couldn’t comprehend what would be so different so he said “N0”. His father said, “You are going to face many challenges and difficulties in life, are you afraid?”
Zhai asked, “What are ‘challenges and difficulties?’ Do they taste good? ” His dad laughed with tears, “Yes, they’re like your favorite candies. You just need to eat them one piece at a time!” (Then his dad ran out of the room in tears.) Zhai has always been very optimistic and athletic with a great sense of humor.
When Ma Li first approached Zhai with her plan for them to dance together, Zhai was reluctant because he had never dance before, but her persistence and passion for the idea eventually won him over and he decided to give it a try.
Ma Li, Tao and Zhai undertook intensive training and practiced for over a year, day in day out from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Most of us cannot even imagine the kind of challenges and difficulties they faced. So much determination went into the making of their first performance … Zhai dropped her more than a thousand times!!!
Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei persisted and not only did the couple achieve their goal of creating a unique and inspirational dance performance, they were the first handicapped couple to ever enter the CCTV national dance competition and their performance won the hearts of millions.
If you’d like to see the couple’s amazing performance there’s an excellent 5 minute video available here on YouTube – I chose not to show it here simply because there are too many ads … but if you’re inspired by their story it’s well worth a look.
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