I was born in Alabama, on a hot June day. My grandfather had built the homestead years before. I had a sister and three brothers. It was a nice place, with green grass, wherever you looked. My papa was a newspaper editor. I wish I could remember more about where I was born, and what everything looked like.
Years have a way of creeping up on a person, and sometimes you spend a good part of your life wondering where everything went. What became of this person, or that person? Maybe I was too busy doing things that I didn’t have a chance to slow down. I know I was busy. I had a boyfriend, once, but we never got married. His name was Peter, and we were even engaged. Sometimes, I’m so overcome with grief that I want to go back to where I came from, but I know that will never happen.
For someone like me, I suppose I had a full life. I wrote twelve books and articles, and visited over 35 countries.
Before I visited other countries, Mark Twain introduced me to Henry Rogers, and he and his wife paid for my education. I graduated from Radcliffe with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree. As months turned into years, I gave lectures. I liked giving lectures on hope, and happiness. I had so much to say, and I found my voice.
These things I believed in: women’s right to vote, pacifism, and of course I wanted disabled people to have a voice and be heard. The thing is, is people often would rather hear me give speeches on disabilities than hear what I had to say about the American Civil Liberties Union, which I helped start. I went to Japan several times, and I met Presidents Cleveland and Harrison.
But this much is true…you can do anything you set your mind to, and you can become anything you want to be. If you want to be an artist, just do it. Work for it, paint, create, take the clay and mold it into something beautiful. Play an instrument. Thank God I can hear music. I hear it because I feel its beat…it permeates through me and I feel the song. The animals…I love them so much. There is so much in this beautiful world of ours!
You can do anything you want. There were twenty-four hours in a day when I was born, and there are still twenty-four hours in a day. You can be a teacher, you can be a writer, you can be a doctor, you can be the best mother to your children, you can hike to the top of mountains, you can train horses, you can plant gardens and you can camp in the wilderness. What separates you from not following your dreams is not trying. From not pushing yourself forward. From giving up. “I can’t” are two of the saddest words I know.
Don’t sit still waiting for something to happen.
Make something happen.
I’m not perfect. I don’t know all the answers. I wish I knew more. I wish, sometimes, that I hadn’t gotten sick when I was young. They said it was scarlet fever and I was a year and a half old when I went blind and deaf. My world became a fog. There’s so much I don’t remember. There’s so much I don’t want to remember.
I was seven years old when I met Annie. And she stayed by my side for many years. She was my teacher, and she opened a new world for me. Annie helped me see life from a whole new perspective and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here now telling you never to give up, and to keep going forward, and to have dreams and to make your days count.
My cup is full, and my water is cool in my cup. I have led a blessed life.
If I can convince you of anything, it is this: Never give up. Life is now. Enjoy today, because life is precious and our life on earth doesn’t last forever. Go after your dreams. No one else can do it but you.
All my love,
Helen Adams Keller