Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Man Wednesdays: "Success Stories: What about that other guy?"

Another Wednesday, another man post. Once again, Andrew shares his weekly words of wisdom:

I used to love "success stories". They were always rousing tales of some hopeful striving for their goals and triumphing against all odds. Who wouldn't love to read that? It instills us with the belief that where they have triumphed, so might we. However, they always seemed something missing.

The answer came, surprisingly, from martial arts movies. They all seemed to have a similar plot: butthead with no respect for the art, his master or (in truth) himself rises above all his shortcomings to become a great champion. The problem was there was always this supporting character who was the master's head student. Respectful, diligent and a true believer. However, they were always eventually outclassed by the hero of the piece. Usually, this character was cast as a rival to the "hero", sometimes as an outright villain. I'm left wondering, what was this guy's story? Why don't we want to see the story of this guy who was doing all the correct things for all the correct reasons from the get go? That story has as much value and as many lessons to teach us, but we think it's just not as exciting.

Let me explain, I've been growing my hair long most of my life (seriously, I started when I was ten, drove my Mom crazy). Starting in 1995, I began the yearly habit of cutting 10-12" of my hair off so that it could be made into wigs for chemo-therapy patients. People have always been mystified as to why I would do that and would assume that I either had known a cancer patient in my life or that I'd had cancer myself. (People would also act as if what I was doing was somehow heroic, which is just silly. Surviving cancer is heroic, I'm just cutting my hair. But that's beside my point.) So, why do I do it? Simply, because it is the right thing to do.

When we first moved to DC we met the folks from One Common Unity, a great group of people, many of whom are on raw diets themselves. Among them was one man who has become one of my raw food heroes. He shines from within with an angelic glow and positivity. Because of his inexhaustible, upbeat energy, I can no more imagine him fatigued than I could ever imagine him in a bad mood. I mention him because he is a walking success story. I won't give you details for the same reason that I don't give his name: because that is not my story to tell. Let it be enough to say that, had he not taken control, his life would have been intolerably miserable and mercifully short.

Don't get me wrong, as a raw foodist, I love to hear success stories. Of course I want to hear about people re-taking power over their own lives and changing it for the better. I want re-confirmation that a raw food diet can overcome obesity, cancer, diabetes and aging itself. But what about the other guy? What about the master's faithful head student? Don't we want to see his story too?

Take Peter Ragnar for instance. Here is a vibrant, healthy man who had his diet and lifestyle very much in control. He could perform physical and mental tasks beyond people half his age. When he encountered the raw food diet, why should he have had any reason to believe that it had anything to offer to his life? He had no illnesses (in fact never got sick), he was fit and strong and mentally acute. He could have let his ego overrule his logic and pass it off, but instead he couldn't adapt his lifestyle to this diet fast enough. Now he's even fitter and more capable than he already was. The success story that has the plot "my life was already great, but now it's fantastic" can be every bit as educational, inspiring and uplifting.

When Chantal and I took on a raw food diet, we didn't chose to change our lives because our lives were at risk. We didn't make it overhaul our home, lifestyle and household because we were in anything but exemplary health. We were already healthy, active and pleased with our bodies. I guess I wanted to write the "other guy's" success story, the kind of success story that I'd like to see a lot more of. The story of the person who does the correct thing for all the correct reasons. Simply, because it is the right thing to do.

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