What does it take to be a hero? Daily courage, or just an extraordinary moment? Firemen are certainly heros, as are police officers, and our troops overeseas. Is it about risking life and limb? OR just going beyond what normal life would ask of you?
This weekend, I saw "Stranger than Fiction," an interesting film wherein Will Ferrell plays an ordinary man who seems mysteriously to be the central character in a book which will end with his death. An unlikely hero, Harold Chik is an IRS auditor, living a rather humdrum experience, ruled by numbers. However, when he overhears the Narrarator's voice in his head mention his untimely and impending doom, he leaps into action to find the hows and whys of his death, and see if it can be stopped (or at least postponed.)
I went to the movie seeking an entertaining story that would allow me escape from my own daily routine, but found instead a film that wouldn't let me stop thinking about it afterwards. Would I, like Harold, seek out the cause of my demise and fight it? Would I live those last few days as if I were "truly alive", fullfilling the wishes of myself and others? Could I dedicate myself for that time to eat a juicy and succulent life, and so at the end, feel that death, however untimely was neccessary and not in vain?
and if I could do that under those circumstances, why do I not do it now? Why am I not living each day fully and vibrantly? Why do I find myself forever postponing and timing things out..... "well, in two years, i'll be mostly out of debt. I can do what i love then..." How many years have I, have any of us, wasted in that process?
Hmmm, hold on.... There have been moments. I've not spent it ALL looking ahead or behind. I have had a dabbling here and there of being completely and totally present. Where I've been as alive as alive gets, and enjoyed the view. In 2003, I participated in APLA's Marathon Training program. For 7 months of my life, I ran and fundraised to help people in the Los Angeles area who are afflicted with HIV and/or AIDS. And in the end, I did something I'd long wanted to do. I finished a marathon.
Right now, my friend Amandarin is participating in that same project. And while I do not envy her "runner's knee", her aching hips, her heat exhaustion, her recent shoe-blow out, or her constant struggle to fundraise..... I do know that there's not a feeling in the world like running that marathon. Oh, not just the crossing of the finish line (which admittedly is pretty spectacular). No, I'm speaking of another moment, one unlike any I'd ever known.
December 14th, 2003- I was running mile late-teens/early twenties, huffing and pained and wondering if I'd make it when I passed a group on the sidelines. It was a large bunch of yellow-shirt wearing APLA supporters, cheering and hooting and beliving in me. They held signs of all natures. "You can do", and "You're a hero". I smiled and waved. Then I saw him. He was tall and gaunt, and didn't look as if he had much energy left to be standing, much less cheering and waving a sign. But he was giving it all he had. And in his hands was a simple piece of posterboard, which read "You are saving my life. Thank you." Tears streamed down my face, and my pace quickened just a bit, and in that moment, I felt just a little bit like a hero.
So Amandarin, I wish you that moment. That one and a hundred more as you face this monster ride called "training to run a marathon". It's HELLA not easy, but it's worth it.
And to anyone whose reading this.... if you're looking for a hero to support, check out this lady or the team she's running with Phat Girls Running. Or go directly to APLA, and read about the hundreds of heros they train regularly.
Or try the Lukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training The disease is different, but the love and caring and determination is the same.
Or Feed a hungry animal
Whatever it is that makes your heart weep and sing at the same time, go find it and support and be a hero for someone else. Cause I'm thinking THAT's what makes one heroic.... not JUST the courage or the passion.... but the ability to give and do that for someone else.
Here's to making the world a better place.