I am drawn to unlikely heroes and inspiring characters wherever I find them, whether depicted in a great book of pure fiction or, best of all, in real life.
A case in point is Ron Hall’s story of his life-changing intersection with a homeless man named Denver Moore. Hall and Moore’s book, “Same Kind of Different as Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together” (Thomas Nelson, 2006), chronicles how these two men are drawn into an unlikely relationship prompted by Ron’s saintly wife, Debbie. (It’s kind of like Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help” for men.)
The backstory of the wheeling-dealing, jet-setting Hall is as inspiring as Moore’s. At first blush, Hall seems like an ordinary guy. He was born on a ranch in Texas, attended school and graduated from college. He earned a master’s degree in business administration, went to work for a bank and married his college sweetheart.
One day, while on a business trip for the bank, he wandered into an art gallery and purchased an original oil painting on credit, much to his wife’s displeasure. He subsequently sold it for a $2,000 profit. From that small dip into the art world, Hall accidently launched an immensely successful career as an art dealer that lasted 25 years. He eventually left that profession to pursue his dream of being a cowboy, filling his days with ranching, roping, writing poetry and, in his words, “anything else Debbie asked me to do.”
It is a good story so far, but his life becomes a great story through a fiery trial that launches him into his most important work.
While volunteering at a homeless shelter, Hall is drawn into the life of Moore amid twists, turns and intersections that are stranger than fiction. Today, Hall continues his new life’s work by co-authoring this heartfelt book and advocating on behalf of the homeless.
As I write this, I am reminded that many of us are closer to the edge of our comfort and security than we ever dreamed possible. More and more “people like me” have slipped over the edge into homelessness. We would be wise to measure our success less by what we have achieved and more by what we have become. The demographics on that are invisible and challenge our assumptions. I’m just saying … we all really are the “same kind of different” in all the important ways.
Sharon Lennox-Infante, contributing editor for Book Buzz, is a Los Altos resident.