So you’re not an Olympic athlete. So you’re not a Greek goddess or a Greek god. So you’re not Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Meryl Streep, Aaron Sorkin, or Harriet Tubman. So you are not going to go down in history as part of the Freedom Riders, or as President of the United States.
Does that make you feel jealous? Does that make you feel angry or bitter? No. Why would it? Those events are so far in the past and you know that it’s impossible to be those people. You did not walk in their shoes to get to where they are.
Harriet Tubman was amazing, but what she endured to become Harriet Tubman is heartbreaking. It is awe-inspiring, but something that one does not ask to endure just to be recognized. No one is thinking, “I am going to be famous“ as they are hiding in a safe house with slaves they have just rescued. Harriet wanted freedom and survival for all those she could assist. That was the intention of her mission. Not fame or an exciting story to impress someone with.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister. Born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was just a humble man wanting freedom and equality for all. He had no ego. His intention was for peace and freedom. He stood on platforms and behind miked podiums, not because he thought of himself as superior, but because he wanted all to hear his plea for equality and join him in the fight for freedom.
Meryl Streep and Aaron Sorkin. Great artists. Worthy of teaching a master class, worthy of winning multiple Oscars, and other awards for their work. They found a craft that made them feel alive. They studied hard. They were just young people to start. Students wanting to understand themselves and the world. They found their voices through the craft that spoke to their hearts. They were not in it for the fame. They didn’t care about being rich. Their desire to grow in their craft is all they were focused on. And so they did. It was just something they had to do.
So the Freedom Riders made it to the history books. They were just as courageous as Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King Jr. They sacrificed their own well-being for the well-being of others. They felt called to advocate for those that were too afraid to endure the consequences. This did not mean that the Freedom Riders were fearless, but the cause they were fighting for required them to unite as a group, lean on each other, and show courage. It was just something they had to do.
Courage is not about being fearless. Courage is about feeling the fear but doing the thing despite the fear. The fear does not stop you, even though it might still be lingering.
Sometimes we look up to these great people and think that we are not super enough. We might think that something about ourselves is missing. Perhaps our lives aren’t good enough. Maybe we are not right as we are.
So you’re average. You’re just an average person trying to find work, trying to get through the day. You wish days would go faster sometimes and sometimes you wish they would slow down. You struggle with loneliness, companionship, physical pain, heartbreak, finances, productivity, and self-confidence. You may have bad dreams that keep you awake, not be able to make your dreams happen, or perhaps have a physical challenge that makes each day feel like a constant grind.
Some people let these difficulties stop them. They get a comfortable job, live in a small affordable house with a spouse that tolerates them and they call it a life. Like “Groundhog Day” they go through the same motions every day. They live only within the corners of their comfort zone. There’s nothing wrong with that. Though I often wonder if they are happy. Do they feel truly satisfied? Is that life what they really wanted?
Sometimes the people that don’t have the privilege of becoming famous, and that never make the history books are the ones that make the most impact. You know, the average ones. Like firefighters that jump into action at a moment’s notice. They are sacrificing themselves and their time. Time that could be spent with their families is instead spent putting out fires often made by other people. Military personnel go through rigorous training. They dedicate their time and effort preparing to go into combat. Some actually do go into battle that most don’t care to be part of. They’re just doing their jobs. For them it’s just another day at the office.
So go ahead and spend all your time wishing you could be Hercules or Athena. Wish your days away pleading that you could be famous, rich, or some kind of superman that makes the history books.
The people that made it in our history books weren’t intending to be written about. They were just answering the deep, low-toned calling that rumbled inside them. They were just taking life one day at a time. They were working to grow and wanted to see others grow too. We aren’t born heroes. We’re just average people. Some people find something that just happens to push them beyond what they think they can do. They are drawn to that thing so much so that it becomes a passion they cannot ignore. And so they shed their average shells that keep them curled up in their comfy average lives. And find themselves continuously living on the edge, just on the edge of average.