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Things I Have Learned: Heroes and legends

Today’s wisdom: “Heroism is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” Arthur Ashe

I was a hero once. It was a fleeting moment but one I recall today in great detail. I was seven years old at the time and too young to join Little League baseball, but my mom was a friend of the coach so she got me in. As you would expect they stuck me way out in right field where I could harmlessly count clovers while the game progressed unimpacted by my inexperience.

In a rare moment of clarity of vision and awareness on my part I spotted the ball crack off the bat and head high into the sky and to my horror, generally in my direction. I maneuvered toward where I thought it might land and put my glove in the air. Then the pain hit.

In a reflex action I grabbed my chest, the source of what felt like a shotgun blast that took my breath away. I risked a look down to see how many ribs must be sticking out through all the blood, and there it was. Firmly stuck between my chest and my glove was a white baseball. In that same memory is a recollection of another kid jumping up and down in frustration somewhere near second base. Then the pats on the back started from my teammates. People who had never paid any attention to me were smiling and high fiving me as we ran off the field.

I enjoyed that moment, maybe for five minutes. Then it was over. I have noticed throughout life that heroes are only heroes for a short time. Then normal happens again.

Legends, on the other hand, last a long time. My town just lost a legend. His name was Roland. I don’t know that he ever did anything super special. He just did really good stuff for a long time.

I am sure that I am the only person alive today who remembers my five minutes of fame. Hundreds will remember Roland for years to come. Every town has a Roland, or many of them.

The other thing I have observed is that many of the legends I have known are older folks, folks who continued the building of their legacies through their retirement years. That’s pretty cool. I’m just sayin.’

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