Mondays With Mac: Have Heroes

Mondays With Mac: Have Heroes

Life can be difficult. Things don't always go as planned. Finding inspiration during these times can get us back on track. Sometimes just one thought can provide the energy and courage to fight through adversity.

For me, at times, this courage comes from thinking of my personal heroes – people who accomplished great things under difficult circumstances, people who put their dreams above their fears...and won.

Four heroes inspire me every time I think of them. Three you'll know, and one you won't.

The first is Mother Teresa, who devoted her life to caring for the poorest of the poor. Second, Helen Keller had every excuse to give up on life, yet she persevered and became an inspiration to millions. The third is Abraham Lincoln, who failed in two businesses and lost six elections before becoming the greatest president of the United States.

My fourth hero is Ricky Johnson. I only met him once, back when I was a sophomore in college, but I'll never forget him.

Nothing had gone right that hot summer day in Indiana. I was selling dictionaries door-to-door, and by 11 that morning, I still hadn't sold a book, I'd gotten two people out of bed, and I'd just been bitten by a German shepherd. Not a good day!

I dejectedly knocked on the door of a large frame house and was surprised to be greeted by a big smile and an invitation to enter. After Mrs. Johnson and I chatted for a minute or so, I began showing her the book. As I gave the presentation, she would say, "I'll bet Ricky would like that feature" or "Ricky was just asking me about that word."

Soon she said, "Let's go see what Ricky thinks." I followed her back to a small room, where I saw a 13-year-old boy lying in bed. His legs were withered from polio. He looked through the dictionary and said, "Mom, I know this will help me with my school work." Then he asked me if I'd sold many books and where I went to college.

We talked for a few minutes, and then with eyes that were sparkling and a smile I will never forget, he said, "You know, Mac, I've never met anyone I didn't like. I like my teachers and my classmates...They're so good to me. They even made me a special ramp to help me get up and down the steps." His last words as I left were, "Mac, someday I'm going to college just like you – I'll guarantee it."

I drove away from Ricky's house with a lump in my throat, a tear in my eye, and a warm, wonderful feeling inside, and I went on to have my best sales day of the summer. It had taken a 13-year-old boy to make me quit feeling sorry for myself – and I've never forgotten his wonderful attitude about life.

So often we worry about what we don't have and don't spend enough time being thankful for what we do have. Most of us are very blessed, but sometimes it takes a hero to remind us.

May 5, 2008
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