someone slipping on a banana peel

I recently watched David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived, a movie about the stunt double for Daniel Radcliffe while filming the Harry Potter movies. He was in an accident on set while filming the next to the last movie, which left him paralyzed. And with hall the challenges, and there are so many for him, in the end of the film he’s shown still loving the film industry and speaking to young gymnasts like he once was. He went about sharing his inspiring energy with those who he would love to be like again, when it would have been so normal to be overwhelmingly bitter about what he missed out on and the challenges he faced every day.

And I’ve heard other stories like this one. I’ve heard enough over time that I cannot remember exact details of many, but general themes like those destined to be Olympic athletes or world class musicians who end up not being able to, and decide to go in completely different directions. And since I end up hearing about them in inspirational ways and not just their respective reports of tragedies, they seem to have turned things around. I’m sure they still wish it would have gone a different way, or mourn that they didn’t reach the scope of influence or “greatness” they thought they would, but they also keep going and attain some scope of influence and greatness.

Just like every one of us can, and so many of us do.

And why does this matter to me? Because the stories resonate with me, at least up to the point where folks change directions and go on to be great in other ways. I feel like I have experienced some life-altering situations that threw my youthful aspirations off course that were well on their way to being realized. But maybe not as blatantly obvious as some of the cases in these others stories, like being paralyzed. I’m somewhere in the middle, often wondering if I’m facing obstacles that I need to persevere and overcome, or blockades that have cut off the path and forced me to come up with a new strategy. And I’m rather obsessed trying to figure that out. Do I need to make changes, or am I right where I should be? Is that taking the easy way out because I doubt my capabilities, or is that accepting and celebrating my present self?

One thing is for certain – I also am mourning what I think I could have been.

And I feel it more as I notice how much we celebrate the extraordinary. I get more antsy now when I hear the bios before someone speaks or when they start a new job: “Here are the amazing things they have accomplished and their evidence of expertise and huge counts of followers and large legacy of grandchildren and … ”

… and who cares? Why do we celebrate thus and hold them in such high regard? And why do I judge myself for not having a similarly impressive bio? Because I feel like I could have had one.

Or worse, that I should have had one. I’ve forgotten that life isn’t a journey to create and show off a fairy tale existence. I’ve somewhere stopped remembering that the only credentials I really care about is how loving and helpful I am. Sure, that won’t pay the bills, or finance an exquisite vacation (those commercials always get me!), but it will give me more joy. Which is ultimately what I’m looking for in that exquisite vacation.

So bring on more stories of those who care for disabled family members, of people who spend time helping neighbors near and far, of the ones who are barely making a living but making people smile every day as they do. Where are those commercials?! Yes, I still want to celebrate the elite, and have people inspire others to reach what they never dreamed possible in the process. And I want to understand more about the tradeoffs and what comes while they work on that, and then after they peak. I want to see more options more often.

Help me remember that there is so much greatness in everybody around us, and sometimes even more greatness in the ordinary than the extraordinary. Help me remember that there’s a lot of good I can do still, even when it isn’t the good I thought I would do. I want to keep going for great, no matter how different that is than the great I first imagined.

I don’t want to be the actor in the spotlight, I want to be the one backing them up and helping them look great wherever I can. I don’t want to do whatever it takes to give me the great bio and make crazy money to afford lavish homes and experiences and status to instantly gain people’s respect, I want to directly experience more little lavish experiences every day as I go. I want to celebrate the risks I’ve taken, and recognize the injuries sustained along the way, on and off the job, and make adjustments to handle those more. Especially when it helps catapult others into the limelight.

I want to be the stunt double.