This I Believe

Ashvini - Houston, Texas
Entered on February 14, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in vision.

My grandparents were poor farmers in a rural Indian village controlled by a crime family when my grandfather ran for political office to demand reform. He first became a successful city councilman and then a state representative who defied the family in power and voiced the concerns of the indigent. The only pictures we have of him were taken by a journalist the night he was killed; political rivals in the mob lynched him as he was returning home to his family after a town meeting.

My grandfather died for his vision but my grandmother carried on his work after his death and eventually became one of the first female mayors in India. Their eldest son, my father, worked his way through school and saved enough money to immigrate to Chicago, where I was born in 1981.

I am the first member of my family to grow up never knowing hunger or poverty or fear. I was blessed with a typical American childhood: I attended public schools, worked summer jobs, and was a homecoming princess. With the love and encouragement of my family, I have accomplished things that my forefathers could not have dreamed of, and a day rarely goes by that I don’t count my blessings. But nothing worth having has come easily, and at times when things seem bleak, I still think of my grandparents. I remember how their visions of equality and a better life for their children sustained them through hard times, and then my troubles seem so distant, my path in life so much clearer.

Four years ago, I was hit by a drunk driver. Miraculously, I emerged from the wreck with only minor injuries, but for a long time afterward I struggled with fear and anxiety about the future. The potential for danger seemed to lurk everywhere. To move forward, I had to learn to see the world as a safe and marvelous place and rely on this vision to deliver me through a dark hour. Now, as a physician years later, staying true to that vision of the way the world ought to be gives me the insight and strength I need to help my patients on their own journeys.

I know that I will continue to experience hardship from time to time, but it took me years to discover that adversity is not a bad thing. A path without obstacles leads nowhere, and, with my vision as a guiding light, I believe there is nothing I cannot overcome.