Ordinary People

I was in Kananaskis Park one year around the time of the big G8 Summit and there were huge preparations to welcome the superstars. I was in Denver when the pope visited – 5 helicopters for the religious superstar.

They didn’t have to clear customs like ordinary people, they were special.

I don’t exactly get that kind of treatment. In fact I’m not sure the border patrol holds me in high regard. It all started that day when I was coming back from the states… and what I thought I said was, “I was a speaker at a youth camp helping to bring teenagers to higher levels of social and emotional responsibility”.

That’s what I said, I was sure I said… but apparently they heard me say –“there is a body in the trunk”. I did not get to fly home in five helicopters, nor did I warrant a free pass through customs. I did warrant, however, an uncomfortable hour with a border guard who had his way with me but didn’t buy me dinner first. I am not a superstar. By most accounts I am not even a major player in any arena.

We are told everyday that we are just ordinary folk. You feel that way when you stand like cattle in the line at the coffee shop, or wait in line at Cosco behind that woman who insists on exact change and takes forever to get it. Even the ugly people on television are better looking than I am. They are hardly ordinary.

You probably never met Duke Harris. When I met him he was a teenager already dying, I just didn’t know that at the time. He was quiet, almost reclusive, around me. What I did not know was that he was a mighty warrior, a life bringer. In his own quiet way he continually went out of his comfort zone with his friends. He was more concerned about their welfare then his own. He was the one with cancer but you would never know it.

I remember the day I met his parents. Duke just stood behind them and beamed. He was proud of the love he knew, and he gave it away constantly in the face of insurmountable odds. Courage, right to the end. And then some.

I remember timidly strolling outside to tell Duke’s friends that he was dying. I will never forget the commitment those friends had, the raw love and compassion they felt.

The incredible thing about Duke was that he was painfully shy. He was not beautiful, with his balding head burned by radiation. Nor was he a gifted communicator. All Duke had was his quiet passion, commitment, and sacrificial love. People were drawn to him, though he never spoke to a crowd or published a line.

He was just a kid who passed way before his time. There were no crowds to cheer when he came by, no press to cover his sickness. No one read about his exploits in Variety.

When Duke died all he left was an enduring legacy, eventually a foundation in his honor, and dozens, even hundreds of people whose lives were indelibly changed by that one ordinary life. 

I’m ok with being ordinary, I guess.

5 thoughts on “Ordinary People

  1. I like this post a lot 🙂 I don’t mind being ordinary; I just want to be someone of significance to someone so that when I move on from this world, there will be at least a person who remembers me. I try to be a Duke Harris everyday. Being there for others gives me an almost therapeutic sense of emotional satisfaction – I can help others even though I am not capable of helping myself all the time. The world would be a better place if we all tried to be a Duke Harris, an extra-ordinary “ordinary” person 🙂

  2. It’s amazing how people hear what they want to hear, obviously to your detriment that time. As for ordinary people, I’m not convinced any of us are ordinary. I think we all have our own bit of a Duke in us, it’s just that sometimes we don’t let it be seen… or maybe it’s just not recognised by others. But it doesn’t matter whether they see it or not, it is there.

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