Life's Pursuit: Endlessly Seeking External Rewards is Self-Defeating
By Gavin Aung Than / zenpencils.com

Throughout his career as a scientist, one of Kalam’s goals was to inspire and motivate the youth of India to get excited about science and knowledge. For instance, after his position as chief scientific advisor ended in 1999, Kalam announced he would personally meet at least 100,000 students in a two year period to help spread the word of science. Kalam’s fame grew even more during this time, as his first autobiography Wings of Fire was released (the quote used in the comic is taken from the book). In it, Kalam recounted how a poor country boy from the small town of Rameswaram went on to study physics, work his way through the ranks of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and then the Indian Space Research Organisation, visit NASA and the Goddard Space Flight Centre in the United States during the height of the space race, play a large part in India’s technological advancement and become India’s most-famous scientist. All of this BEFORE Kalam became the President of India in 2002, in which he gained another nickname, the “people’s president” for continuing to connect with the youth of India and allowing the public to visit the presidential palace in New Delhi.

It’s crazy to think that Kalam didn’t even want to be a scientist, he just wanted to fly. Dreaming of becoming a pilot, Kalam studied aeronautical engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology: “What fascinated me the most at MIT was the sight of two decommissioned aircraft displayed there. I felt a strange attraction towards them, and would sit near them long after other students had gone back to the hostel, admiring man’s will to fly free in the sky, like a bird. … The goal was very clear in my mind, I was going to fly aircraft. I was convinced of this.” After graduating, Kalam landed two job interviews. One was for his dream gig of joining the Air Force, the other a technical role at the Ministry of Defence. At the selection board, only the best eight candidates out of 25 would be selected to join the Air Force. Kalam finished 9th. He was devastated, but picked himself up and accepted the new path of his life and went to work for the Ministry of Defence. Turned out to be a pretty good Plan B.

Kalam was a deeply spiritual man and practised what he preached, shunning material possessions and rewards. The only material goods Kalam coveted were books, owning over 2500 of them. His only other possessions were a watch, six shirts, four pants, three suits and a pair of shoes. He did not own any property, a fridge, TV, car or air conditioner. From Kalam’s former media advisor, “He would never accept a gift, save a book, and whenever somebody brought him a packed gift and tried to pass it off as a book, he insisted on examining what was inside. Anything other than the book was politely returned.”

Kalam died last in uly 2015 after suffering a heart attack while giving a speech titled “Creating a liveable planet Earth”. Over 350,000 people attended his funeral in his home town of Rameswaram.

4.5 ·
6
What's Next
Trending Today
The Little Engine That Couldn't: How We're Preparing Ourselves and Our Children for Extinction
Daniel Quinn · 14,040 views today · In a recent semi-documentary film called Garbage, a toxic waste disposal engineer was asked how we can stop engulfing the world in our poisons. His answer was, "We'd have to...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 13,784 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
Debt, Inequality and the Logic of Financial Violence
David Graeber · 3,212 views today · Five years after Occupy, organizer and anthropologist David Graeber speaks to ROAR about the power of finance, the history of inequality and the legacy of the movement.
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 2,957 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Prince Ea Just Put The School System on Trial and Found it Guilty of Killing Free Thought
6 min · 2,216 views today · Albert Einstien once said "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid". Today Prince...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 1,596 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
Incredible Photographs and Witness Statements from Charlotte and Baton Rouge Protests
Mankaprr Conteh · 1,399 views today · On September 20, a black father named Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by an officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. It is not clear if he was armed...
How You Can Support Standing Rock
Thane Maxwell · 1,231 views today · This is your pipeline battle too. Whatever you have to offer, we need it. Wherever you are, take one step deeper. Find your voice. Find your own front lines.
Yemen's Forgotten War and Famine Fuelled by Weapons from The West
3 min · 1,209 views today · The world has forgotten the war in Yemen but you'll remember these shocking images of its starving children.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 989 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 926 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 866 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 818 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 812 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Olympian John Carlos on the Power of Protest
3 min · 619 views today · 1968 Olympic athlete John Carlos protested racial inequality by raising his fist in a Black Power salute on the medal stand. He has some advice for athletes like Colin...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 553 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Bitter Lake (2015)
136 min · 507 views today · Adam Curtis: Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react...
Kids Killed by Guns: America's Daily Nightmare
3 min · 434 views today · On an average day in America, seven children and teenagers will be shot dead.Gary Younge tells the stories of the lives lost on one random day - 23 November 2013. Ten children...
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 408 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 405 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Life's Pursuit: Endlessly Seeking External Rewards is Self-Defeating