Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I once heard some guy say, “We are all heroes just for being here.” It was in the 90”s a popular time to lay claim to having been abducted by aliens or having had a  near death experiences, complete with glowing white light. At the time I was as open-minded gullible as the next chump. Plus I was a teen and therefore all a twitter with free thinking and possibilities. (Now I’m more level headed, or boring, depending on who you ask… lol).

The “guy” was one who claimed to have been very near to “entering the light”, and spoke of the experience of feeling every emotion he had caused in another, from pure glee to anguish. The message he brought back was that life is hard, everyday it’s hard, and that we are all heroes just for being here. After the years of shedding my naive ponderings as to the validity of his story, the words held on.

It’s an attractive notion isn’t it? We are all often far too hard on ourselves, celebrate ourselves too seldom. Some of us often carry around enormous weights, shackled to our frame. We lug them around, be they pain, guilt, fear, loneliness, regret, so often they become unnoticeable, except that we are tired all the time, or just can’t seem to get ahead. I know we don’t all struggle under such labor, all of the time, in all the same ways. But when we do, if we do, it is very very difficult. And I for one, am humbled by those who can make something of their lives under such strain for any length of time. Hero seems like an appropriate word to me.

I think about that word a lot, because of that line, from some guy, some time ago. It’s a loaded word for so many but I tend to think of it as befitting people in much more humble circumstances than most would think.

For example, “All my heroes at the methadone clinic” – Kid Rock

Last week… when I saw this out my front window I began to think about the word again.


I know, this may seem like a stretch, but I propose that these guys (high-rise window washers) are heroes, of a kind.  For one thing, I am horribly terrified of heights. The fact that these guys do anything like this is, to me, something like miraculous. Secondly, while I know they don’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts, that they are paid fairly good money for the danger involved, I can’t help but imagine the families that may depend on them and what all they might risk, everyday, to bring home the biggest paycheck they can. That’s pretty heroic  to me.

And third… It matters that we have clean windows.


These are the windows in my son’s room. The dust and dirt are on the outside, 11 stories up. I can barely look out the windows, let alone hang out there and try to clean them. They really only look like this when you get really close up, or, as on this day, the sun is shinning very brightly.

Imagine living here and never having someone come by, at the mercy of ropes, skill, and luck, to clean these windows. Imagine, over time, what they would look like… and how that picture of the world might alter the perspectives of those who live in those rooms… and how those people, particularly the children, might be effected over time, and might effect those around them…  It could be profound, as it reverberated outward into the world, multiplied by all the families, in all the rooms, in all the apartment buildings, in all the cities, in all the states, of all the countries on this planet.

It’s a small thing, washing windows. The washers are cogs in the machine, just as we all are. Or, they are heroes. I like that second part better.


The Giraffe Head Tree said...

How profound, Rachel. Heroes are to me as well the everyday folks who do amazing things that we take for granted. Just one example - my friend Carol who has 4 children, 2 of them have cerebral palsy. She's a hero in my book. Firefighters and policemen are heroes. Volunteers are heroes. Window washers are heroes. You know who are NOT heroes? Sports celebrities.

kendalee said...

My stomach lurches just looking at pictures of those guys doing their thing. Heroes in my book too!