I am the kind of person, on the outside, that other people love to be around. I have always been told that I have the ability to bring out the best in others and make them feel good about themselves. This comes from my genuine love of other people. On the inside however, I was the most unhappy person you could imagine. I was always down on myself, beating myself up, and living a life of utter self-pity and fear of taking risks. One day, about a year ago, something happened at work that rocked my world of safety. The company that I worked for was bought by another larger company, and we were all losing our jobs. Now, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had always dreamed of starting my own business, but I did not believe in my ability to do it. I was driving down the road feeling very sorry for myself. I was having a grand pity party about how unfair this was, and how much my life sucked, and how I may as well just go kill myself. This was a habitual thought pattern in my life until this point. I had a very deep frown on my face and was close to tears, when on the other side of the road coming the opposite way, was a man with a look on his face that I will never forget. He was grinning from ear to ear, and the look was not only of sheer happiness, but also of utter exhilaration and pride and joy. But, it was not the look on his face that moved me so much, as it was the fact that this man had no legs and was racing in a wheelchair. What I learned from this stranger in that split second changed my life. I immediately felt ashamed for having these thoughts about myself and my abilities. I realized that I am a child of God, no better and no worse than anyone else, and that a life of fear is not a life. I realized that everyday is a day to celebrate, a chance to excel at whatever it is in my own life that will bring me that feeling of joy, exhilaration and pride. I now own and operate a very successful business. I am also pursuing my dream of writing. The going has been slow, and there are times when I have wanted to throw in the towel. But then I think of that man, who is my personal hero. Even though we never met in person, he touched my heart and soul in a very deep and personal way. I give thanks to all the courageous men and women who have been an unknown hero to someone, without ever knowing it. I hope that someday my own actions will move someone to a new place, a new realization in their lives, as that wonderful man moved me.
Cherylynn Westerdahl Lau