On a recent cross-country flight I turned on the available video screen ready to watch sitcoms and other filler for the next five hours. I must have packed away my motivation to read, write or do anything of consequence.
As I searched the available channels, I surprised myself by selecting the GoPro Channel that ran a loop of short video stories. Most were athletic adventures, ranging from mountain climbing, surfing, and bike tricks; everything you expect from people using the GoPro camera.
Yet, there was something relaxing watching these high-def videos of people following their passion and performing in ways that I can never imagine for myself. So, I continued to watch and anticipate the next story. Soon came a wonderful story of a man running a Grizzly Bear Sanctuary and yes, GoPro cameras were harnessed onto the bears. This was more to my liking and I continued to watch hoping for similar stories.
Soon came the story that stopped me cold. Far from the extreme athletic pursuits of most of the GoPro videos, this story took place in rural China in a landscape ruined by industrial waste. The cameras captured the daily routine of two men, lifelong friends. Their mission … to plant trees each day as a means to reclaim the countryside from the waste spilling out of the factories. Where there used to be an endless forest, now there was open space and few trees.
They have no seeds or saplings. They use an ancient practice of cloning new trees from branches of the few living trees. They reroute water as best they can and through trial and error, new trees begin to grow. In ten years they have planted over 10,000 trees and their bond is extraordinary to watch.
Yet, there is more to this story … one man is blind, his friend has no arms.
One is the eyes for the other and he in turn, is the arms for his friend. These challenges do not define them. Their friendship and mission define them. A wonderful story of perseverance and hope.
“While we are limited physically, our spirit is limitless.”
I invite you to watch their story. They remind us that if we “work together physically and unite spiritually, we can achieve anything.” Indeed.