I took this photo just before landing at Birmingham airport on the way back from Bangladesh a few days ago.
It was at the end of 52 hours of travelling due to heavy fog and violent strikes causing havoc on Bangladesh’s already precarious infrastructure.
I was going to use it to write some quasi inspirational New Year’s post about how in 2013 the only limit on what you might achieve is set by you.
You can read a lot of that motivational rhetoric on on the web, written by various gurus. Almost all of them come from a position of immense privilege. That’s the part they miss out, putting achievement down to talent, self-belief and hard work.
All those things matter, but they’re not the single most important factor. That factor is luck. Luck to be born in the right place, at the right time, to the right parents.
On the trip to Bangladesh I met a beautiful young woman called Megla. You can see her in the short clip I filmed below.
Megla is an incredibly hardworking eighteen year old who lives in a tiny village forty-five minutes from Khulna. Her father is a fishermen who spends most of the year away at sea. She looks after her Mother who is overcome with grief because her son died in a fishing accident two years ago.
Megla talked to me about the dreams she once harboured to be a teacher. As she told me this her voice cracked and the tears began to fall.
She had to give up school to look after the family and now she’s waiting to be married off. Because of the system in her village as a Hindu girl her father will have to pay (about $300) to get her married to a man she probably won’t meet until her wedding day.
With luck he’ll be a good man.
Megla told me that to hold onto her dreams was just too painful. To survive she had to let them go; she had to accept the limitations of her life.
It’s all too easy for me to tell you; to tell Megla, that I’m sorry the world is so fucking unfair. But I’m writing this New Year’s message on a £1600 computer system, listening to music coming out of my £400 speakers, in my five bedroom house. I shouldn’t need to be reminded of how lucky I am by flying off to places like Bangladesh, but I do.
‘Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering‘. Paulo Coelho
I wish you every success for 2013. I wish you luck too. I wish that that the dreams within your grasp come a nudge closer to true, and that you will find ways of letting go, without too much pain, the dreams that for no fault of your own are ungraspable.
African-American Poet Langston Hughes:
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.