Just a short anecdote for you today: After the recent death of Robin Williams, a story circled around about how he went in to visit Christopher Reeve before spinal surgery in 1995 to cheer up his old Julliard classmate as only Robin Williams could. That story reminded me of the early 2000s, when Christopher and Dana Reeve were attending the Unitarian Church in Westport (Connecticut), where my family had been going since I was a boy.
I didn’t go every week, and neither did they, so I don’t have any genuine interactions to share, but they continued to drop in from time to time, and in 2004, when Christopher died from complications leading to a heart attack, Dana decided to hold a memorial service at the church. I was away at college.
She continued to attend and make friends up until she died from lung cancer, two years later (2006). This time, I made it to the memorial service held the Sunday after her death. I’ll never forget the opening lines of the minister’s tribute:
“When you met Christopher, in five minutes, you knew he was a great man. When you met Dana, in five minutes, you knew you were a great person.”
How amazing is that? Yes, we need great people: People to lead us, to rally us, to sacrifice for us…but at least as important are the people who can show us that we have all that greatness within ourselves. For so many years, I’ve focused on trying to become great at whatever I do. All the same, I hope that I can manifest some of that power Dana had. The power to show other people just how great they already are, in this moment, and in their potential for the future.
Pick either path. That of Christopher or that of Dana. The world needs more of both.