What do you see when you look in the mirror? Does it match the way you feel on the inside?
When you are out in the world, how do others see you? Do they make judgements on who you are or what you’re capable of?
Similarly, how do you see others? Unconsciously do you judge them for how they look rather than imagining “who they are?”
This week I released a new audio documentary program for NPR/PBS called Seeing Erin Hagerty.
Erin died last year at the age of 62. By most counts she lived an extraordinary life – simply by doing things many would consider ordinary.This is an examination not of what she did but how she was seen. By strangers, her family and most importantly how she saw herself.
I knew Erin. Her brother was my long-time roommate and remains one of my closest friends. For this project, I interviewed him, his sisters and his mother. It changed not only how I saw Erin but also how I see myself.
It is an honor to help tell someone else’s story. You want so badly to get it right and all the while are scared to death you might get it wrong. I was relieved, grateful and humbled after Erin’s family listened to the program and called it a “beautiful gift.”
Truth be told, though, the real gift was the life Erin lived and the power of her story to inspire others.
One of Erin’s sisters shared a story from a friend who knew Erin and listened to the program. He said he was going to share it with his young niece who was tragically paralyzed from the waist down with the hope that she and her family might find it “inspiring, informative and motivating.”
He ended his note, “Long love the spirit of Erin.”
Which brings me to my last point. What you see in the mirror or how others may see you in the world, matter so much less than how we feel about ourselves and our capacity to make others feel something wonderful.
For long after we shuffle off these mortal coils and our body is no longer around to be seen at all, our spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of others.
I know this is a busy time for all but if you have 30 minutes and are looking to get in the holiday spirit, then perhaps you’d like to spend some time with Erin’s story. She will always be great company.