In her book titled, ‘Option B’, Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, relates her personal experience about developing resilience amid life-shattering experiences. She says that two weeks after losing her husband in 2015, as she was preparing for a father-child activity, she cried to her friend saying, “I want Dave (her husband).” Her friend replied, “Option A is not available.”
Life gives us two options, one temporary, the other eternal. The eternal option means doing something that continues to benefit you, even after you have ceased to exist. That is, your end in the physical sense, you continue to live in the ideological sense.
The Creator has given to all in this world, albeit for a short period, an opportunity called life. And every person, in his limited lifetime, has unique experiences which are of eternal value. If a person understands his experiences and records them appropriately, this record stays intact even after his death and shall serve as a permanent lesson for the next generation.
Robert Clive was a young, educated British clerk in the East India Company. Being dissatisfied with his job, he once attempted suicide by aiming a revolver at his head and pulling the trigger. However, the gun misfired and he was saved. He then cried out saying: “Surely, surely I am reserved for something great!” The turn of events in his life after this incident made him accomplish great tasks and he went on to lead British India. He recorded this event in his life in the book Life Stories, thus giving a great gift to succeeding generations. This gift was a lesson: “If an accident takes place in life and it does not kill you, consider it as a blessing. Such an event implies that God has saved us for a higher purpose.”
This lesson was further expounded by British historian Arnold Toynbee in his book, ‘A Study of History’. He holds that if a nation faces a challenge, which is non-crippling, it actually becomes a boost for the nation in terms of result – it prepares the nation for greater heights.
While recommending Sandberg’s book, Malala Yousafzai said: “None of us can escape sadness, loss, or life’s disappointments, so the best option is to find our Option B.” In a nutshell, in the case of a life-changing event, we must not cling to the pursuit of Option A. We must instead pursue Option B and share our experiences and lessons with the world.
In relating her experiences, Sandberg has set an example of this principle. She has given a living gift to the next generation which shall continue for eternity. Her gift is that we must not pursue Option A (when it is not available), as that will always make us sad. We must instead choose Option B, so that we may be enabled to learn from experiences and move on.
Death does not mark the end of life. In the physical sense, it means an end but not in the ideological sense. Everyone has valuable experiences that he can share with others – we must discover these experiences and then record them for posterity, so that they may be an inspiration to others. Such a concept of life ensures that the journey of life is not one of frustration, but rather one of eternal hope.