Look nearby when searching for heroes

Falling stars fill the pages of newspapers and airwaves of radio and television.

Are you surprised?

Not me.

We put too much faith and hope in men and women in high places who end up falling low to the ground. We hold up sports stars, rock stars, and the political glitterati only to peel away the greatness and often find a smelly onion.

Perhaps we search too far away for strength and quiet nobility.

Not me.

I only have to look right in front of me when I’m walking on the indoor track at the Groveport Recreation Center where I see an older man who circles the track once as I scurry around four times. His pace is slow, deliberate, and impeded by a stroke that zapped his strength months ago.

He scales the stairs aided by a metal cane with his wife by his side, although an elevator could ferry him to the track level in no time. Why doesn’t he take the stairs? I don’t know, but I imagine it has something to do with perseverance and bringing his body back to the way it worked before the stroke.

I watch as his wife gets him started on the 1/10th of a mile track as I breeze past with "Danger Zone" blaring in my ears. He leaves his cane by a railing overlooking a floor filled with exercise machines and begins his rounds, grasping the railing for assistance and working his way around the track.

People pass him by-speed walkers like myself, runners, and leisure strollers-but I wonder if anyone truly sees him or recognizes the determined effort it takes for him to make one round compared with the relative ease for the rest of us?

Probably not.

But I have taken notice of his strength and will power. It has both humbled and inspired me to keep going when the last of my 20 rounds taxes my overweight body. My physical limitations are self-inflicted…I could say no to the "Little Debbie" oatmeal pies (I have) or the frosting left in the bowl after making a cake (I haven’t). I asked for the problems I face.

He didn’t, yet we are addressing them in our own way with a similar goal in mind. His…slow and deliberate. Mine…faster with headphones feeding music to my brain. Both of us walking for health, but only one of us holding the other up as a hero.

Why am I inspired by this man, whose name I do not know? He is not a sports champion, pop star, or political power broker. I don’t know anything about him; I have only spoken to him with a hearty "good morning" as I pass by on the track.

Yet, I am inspired by his dedication in the face of difficulty. I am inspired by his determination when the task is not easy. I am inspired by his perseverance when it would be easier to sit down and stop.

I am inspired to do better, to go one more round when I felt like I’ve had enough, and to push through another set even though I’ve already done my maximum as I hold in my mind the image of a cane left by the side of a track as its owner heroically goes on without it.

Linda Dillman is a Messenger staff writer.

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