Bread-stick or Pretzel Part II of II

In part I, we discussed the logical answers to two diametrically opposite lifestyles.

With all due respect, the majority of us are entirely comfortable with a ‘bread-stick’ way of life. It helps us survive, but through thick and thin though.

The monotony of everyday chores turns us into a machine that knows nothing outside of its own static order. However, those that gather the courage to identify various oncoming twists and turns do end up designing a nice-looking pretzel out of the turmoil. They never let monotony set-in as their creativity is aroused by each impending twist/turn or challenge.

Let us now look into the historical facts surrounding some of the most outstanding individuals that stand out from all the rest:

My first and foremost choice is a little-known (at least in the Western world), but indeed, the most critical ‘Thinker, Creator, and Achiever’ India knows as 'Aryabhata.' His deep intellect and theories changed the way the entire human race thrives today. He was, without a doubt, the most influential mathematician, and astronomer as he gave us the letter ‘0’ (Zero) in addition to a host of other unchallenged theories that we still use. But for his studious mind and in-depth study, we would have been bereft of almost every single development since the early Stone Age.

Can you imagine any computer program without the essential ‘0s’ and ‘1s’; I do not think so. How about the wheel that everyone else wants us not to try to reinvent. What is the shape of the wheel, if not a zero? As such, for all practical purposes, Aryabhata was the one who invented it in the first place.

Aryabhata was born in the Bihar state of India in the year 476 A.D. He is recognized as one of the first Indian mathematicians and space exploration experts. Among his numerous studies and mathematical/scientific explorations, ‘ZERO’ is obviously the most important. Other than that, but no less important by any means, the following unknown facts deserve the light of day:

• Aryabhata came up with an approximation of ‘pi’ and determined that pi(π) is irrational. • He was the first mathematician to give what later came to be known as the tables of sine, cosine, versine, and converse sine to four decimal spots, which brought forth trigonometry. • Aryabhatta has named the first 10 decimal places and derived the methods for extracting square roots, summing arithmetic series and solving indeterminate equations of the type ax – by = c. His method to find a solution to indeterminate equations of this type is recognized the world over. • He discovered the position of nine planets and expressed that these likewise rotated around the sun. • He also provided the circumference and measurement of the Earth and the radius of the orbits of 9 planets. • He concluded that the earth is round. He also stated that it rotates on its own axis, which is why we have days and nights. Aryabhatta pronounced that the moon has no light of its own. • Another discipline Aryabhatta explored was astronomy; he concentrated on a few geometric and trigonometric parts of the celestial sphere that are still used to study stars. • India’s first satellite ‘Aryabhata’ was named after him. • ‘Aryabhata Research Institute of Observational Sciences’ is named after this outstanding astronomer.

Thomas Alva Edison, recognized as one of the greatest American Inventors has 1,093 patents to his credit, in addition to so many more in France, Great Britain and in Germany. He is also credited with the establishment of the very first Industrial Research Laboratory.

Among his many life-changing inventions, the most influential game-changers can be identified as the light bulb, the phonograph, the motion-picture camera, electric light, and utilities, mass communication, and telecommunication, mechanical vote recorder, the stock-ticker, and storage battery for cars.

Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. His first power station was on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York.

If only Edison had continued as a telegraph operator all his life, where would we stand today?

Almost all of us have heard of the ‘Theory of relativity and E = mc²’ propounded by Albert Einstein, the undisputed leader among all Theoretical Physicists ever born. For more in-depth insights into the genius of Einstein, I would recommend the following link:

Can you imagine even one single day in the life of this outstanding individual that commands respect the world over? No wonder he shall continue to be remembered till eternity for his inquisitiveness that beat the urge to flow with the tide. One of his famous quotes teaches us volumes: “A Person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Moving on, we can capture a few pointers from the life of Nelson Mandela, the great revolutionary that fought all his life against apartheid and won for his people the right to self-government.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” - Nelson Mandela.

Born: July 18, 1918, in Mvezo, South Africa, Nelson Mandela died on the 5th of Dec.’13 in Johannesburg, S. Africa at the ripe age of 95. Perforce circumstances, his family was forced to live in a state of absolute poverty and daily struggle. However, his determination brought him to a state of self-recognition where he decided to revolt against the white supremacist government in his country.

He joined the African National Congress (ANC) in 1942. In 1949, the ANC switched gears to boycott strike, disobedience seeking full citizenship rights for the blacks, redistribution of land, trade union rights, and free and compulsory education for all children.

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison, from November 1962 until February 1990. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in the year 1993 for his continued struggle for self-government in S. Africa.

Due in no small part to the work of Mandela and President de Klerk, negotiations between black and white South Africans prevailed: On April 27, 1994, South Africa held its first democratic elections. Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the country's first black president on May 10, 1994, at the age of 77, with de Klerk as his first deputy:

How can we overlook the spirit of the general good of the society before self-satisfaction that this remarkable leader exemplified at a very young age? He could have easily chosen to fend for himself and his family rather than languishing in jail for a significant part of life. It was nothing but his continued struggle to bring relief in an environment of utter chaos that gave him worldwide recognition and made him a national hero.

Mahatma Gandhi: The undisputed ‘Apostle of Peace’ had everything going well for him up until the time he suffered the ignominy of racism first hand. He left a successful career as a Barrister in South Africa to help his people back home, in India, fight the British regime and seek independence in a non-violent fashion.

Bookstores and libraries the world over are brimming with volumes upon volumes of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s life, his struggles, his teachings and his selfless dedication to the cause that saw India gain independence from the autocratic authoritarianism.

Ill-informed and/or self-centered critics abound that enjoy criticizing every single high-achiever. However, they fail miserably to dimish these individuals’ right to glory even a wink, due to the pervasive nature of their actions, powered by their total focus on the cause, almost always at a significant personal cost.

I could go on and on, perhaps another few hundred pages but it may not serve any additional purpose than to bring home the fundamental point:

Living the life of challenges is always more productive than choosing a life of monotony, deprived of any thrill, twists, turns, diversions, and pit-stops to sit down and relax.


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