Professor Stephen Hawking: An Inspirational Man

It was reported today that Professor Stephen Hawkings had passed away at the age of 75.

If you were not aware of the man and his physical condition that may not raise too many eyebrows, after all 75 is not too bad an age to reach.
For me though, this is a story which holds much more and is an inspiration.

You see, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) when he was 21 and was given around 2 years to live at that time.

MND is an aggressive and progressive disease that stops motor neurons from working, which results in the loss of movement, control of muscles, muscle wastage and usually a premature death.

In the early 1990s, my soon to be Father-in-law was diagnosed with MND. Within the space of less than two years he went from a burly road labourer to a mere shadow of himself, he grew weaker and ultimately passed away from respitory failure. Watching this strong, funny man wither in front of you was so sad.

This is why Professor Hawking’s story is particularly poignant for me.

Despite his condition Stephen Hawking was a visionary scientist and contributed much to the advancement of the scientific community.

I ponder what it was that allowed Stephen Hawking to not only survive such a debilitating condition for so long but also to carry on and make such a huge contribution?

I have recently read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, in which he regularly cites Nietzsche “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” Perhaps is was Stephen Hawking’s ‘why’, a desire to solve some of the biggest mysteries known to man that gave him the strength and determination?

RIP Professor Hawking