My friend Andrea is a photographer. There are two well-known photographers she sees as inspiration. They are her heroes. The one is dead already, and the other is William Eggelston (the “father of color photography”). The Frist in Nashville currently has an Eggleston exhibition, and Andrea went a few weeks back to see it. She was pumped, to say the least!

She took her time, walking through and perusing the prints of one (of two) of her greatest life inspirations. She was moved by the experience. After she had spent enough time amongst his work, she made a stop by the gift shop. She bought a few things, and when she came out, on exit, she stopped abruptly in the foyer and froze, like a deer caught in headlights. Her eyes exploded with tears, and she literally began to cry. There, standing a few feet away from her, was the one, the only, actual real dude, William Eggleston.

He was alone, apart from a lady who was helping him set up a table for book signings, and no one else seemed to recognize him. But Andrea did, and she could not believe her eyes. Completely overwhelmed, she walked up to him in tears and said, “You are the reason I wanted to become a photographer!” He was flattered by her sentiments, and he asked her to sit with him for a while. They chatted, Andrea got a chance to take photos with him, and got his autograph. The moment was dear and moving to all who witnessed.

As Andrea retold the story to me, obviously deeply impacted by the experience, I wondered if there was a human being who could spark that kind of response in me. Nelson Mandela immediately came to mind, but beyond him I could not think of anyone else. Ever since then I have been thinking about it. The Grammys and the Oscars have taken place in the meantime, and I watched both, seeing numerous very talented people, who the masses look up to, and idolize. Other people who serve as “heroes” to many. It was only a reminder to me that, though there are some of those “stars” I wouldn’t mind meeting, I could honestly care less if I ever do. And for me, it has only validated further who my true life heroes are.

These are the people I look up to…

The single mother, holding down a job, raising kids on her own, busting her butt to give them the future she never had.

The man who sticks around and raises his kids, dedicated to not just being the “cause” of their life, but also a positive part of it…a man who is a father.

The kid surrounded by negativity, who keeps his chin up and his head down, focused, and determined to be something more than the harsh reality that surrounds him.

The person who has absolutely nothing, and yet has everything to complain about, but lives as though every day is a gift, thankful, joyful, and grateful, without grumbles.

The single mother who has the bravery to pursue her dreams, when the world around her tries to hold her back and keep her down…maybe dreams she once had to put aside because she was forced to “grow-up” before her time.

The person who has so little, but gives so much.

“Normal”, every day people who are dedicated to being the change they want to see in the world.

Yep, these, and many others like them, are my true heroes. And I am fortunate enough to have easier “access” to them than the average person does to his or her hero. So, to all my heroes I say, continue being an inspiration, and living a life that shouts out change, and dances in determination.


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