Thursday, March 10, 2011

Duke Fisher

Duke Fisher is someone making a difference. He has dedicated his life to showing people themselves. He is supportive, kind, and genuine. It is difficult to find someone as present as he is.

He is the mediation trainer at Skidmore. He gives people his full attention. Listening, for Duke, is exercise. And sometimes it shows on his countenance. His shoulders sag, his face changes minutely, he is suddenly sad. It seems that he has so much character and weight. As much as I, and everyone on this campus, idolize him he is human. And he never asks to be seen as anything more.

He always wears a shirt that’s one or two sizes too large. It is always a free shirt he got from some conference or activity he did. It is always related to conflict resolution or his street theater. He wears worn jeans that make him look short somehow. He wears hiking boots that he keeps only partially tied, and that protrude out from the cuffs of his jeans. He has enormous hands and a firm grip. He walks casually everywhere, a gait that gives away an appreciation for the pain in the world.

And he does something I have been unable to accomplish. He looks at everyone. Everyone is part of the conversation. He follows the golden rule to the best of his abilities. Talks to people in a way that I have yet to see replicated by anyone else. He is constantly checking the reactions of everyone in the vicinity, trying to give them all a chance to speak.

I suppose that is why he has been such an effective trainer. He has grabbed the attention of everyone in his trainings and put as much attention as he can onto people. He is always moving, listening, and sending back that information to people.

He is truly self-evaluating all the time, trying to do what he can to improve his being, trying to help people better everyday. Since I first met him three years ago, I have seen him change little. Which is paradoxical to my previous statement. But I think it is actually indicative of his growth, it seems he has remained the same in a way that only the good parts shine through.

And he insists on being called a human, and being taken as a person full of human experiences. Nothing more. I hope that we can all strive for that in our lives. Presenting ourselves as human, beyond our egos, beyond the lies we tell ourselves. And being taken as human, flawed.