2012 – 8th Grade National 2nd Place Winner

Ahmad Chaudhry, New York.

What is the meaning of life ?

The Curveballs that Make up Life

Life is a process of numerous emotional and physical experiences. The lessons we learn from these experiences define and shape our lives. My older cousin, Misha, has Down Syndrome, with muscular weakness, resulting in her confinement to a wheelchair. From the life lessons my cousin, Nisha, has taught me, I have determined that the meaning of life lies within the meaningful experiences and challenges that one encounters and one’s ability to overcome those challenges.

Throughout my life, Nisha has always shown me to never back down from a challenge. A few years back, Nisha called me and said that she needed a few tips on shooting and scoring baskets. That afternoon, I went to her house and surely enough, saw her in the driveway trying to navigate her wheelchair as she was struggling to dribble the ball. It was so much fun to watch her enjoy playing basketball despite the challenge of being in a wheelchair. Nisha’s determination has inspired me to never focus on the hurdles and difficulties. I have learned from Nisha that one way to discover the meaning of life is through our approach to the challenges life throws at us.

Nisha has taught me that one hundred percent effort in life is more important than perfection. She loves to paint and draw, which is, sometimes, a challenge for her, due to her muscular weakness. Despite this challenge, I have always seen her try her best to communicate, through her art, the stories that are in her imagination. I have never seen her compromise by putting a little less blue in the sky or less leaves in the trees or fewer birds in the nest. This amazing quality of hers has always taught me to try my best in whatever I love doing, despite the obstacles and challenges.

Last year, Nisha celebrated her sweet sixteen. I enjoyed seeing her in the center of the dance floor. She did not let the wheelchair, nor the difficulty to move her arms get in the way of her enjoying every moment to the fullest. I learned from Nisha how to take a new challenge everyday, with a new smile, positive energy, and a happy tune to dance to, and never to dwell in the disadvantages that life throws at you.

In conclusion, my cousin’s personal experiences make references to the fact that life is about being able to confront the challenges life throws at you. Life is a living and moving-on process, filled with the necessity to adapt to one’s surroundings and challenges. If one is able to overcome those tribulations, one can find happiness in any situation. My earliest memories of Nisha is a dynamic girl, throwing her head back and laughing, and enjoying life to the fullest from a wheelchair. I have learned, by watching her, that the challenges in life are to be taken face on. One has to learn to take life in a stride and deal with both the success and disappointments of life.


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