One of my favorite stories in Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ is the one that takes place somewhere on the road in Chile, where he and his friend Alberto Granado found shelter for the night in a German household. During the night Ernesto had a “bad case of the runs”, in one word: Diarrhea, and because in his opinion it would have been rude to use the pot under his bed, he thought for whatever reason, it would be a better idea to relieve himself by sitting out on the window ledge and down “into the night and blackness beyond.” The next morning when he looked out of this very window, he saw to his utter disbelief that at the bottom the German family had placed their sweet peaches to dry in the sun and Che’s “contribution” was in his own words “a spectacle that was impressive. We beat it fast.”
The reason why I love this story and the reason why I’m retelling it for you is because to me this is such a human moment. It’s a hilarious and embarrassing episode that most of us would try to forget as quickly as we can, let alone write it down for the world to read, but he is being painfully honest about it. As if it happened to somebody else and not to himself. The ‘Che’ Guevara we are familiar with today is mostly either this almost mythological figure, a legend, a symbol many proudly wear on their shirts, or in the eyes of the opposition a guerilla fighter, a mass murderer, a terrorist. But regardless of which side you are on, both of them barely acknowledge him as a simple human being. Just like us, someone made of flesh, blood and bone. Someone who takes a dump out of a window and unto the peaches of a German family.
Each historical figure that we know, no matter if we hold them in high regard or in contempt, are at the bottom core all just human and I love to see this core with all of its faults and quirks and embarrassing episodes. I love to see those people during their vulnerable and weak times, because when we only read about their great feats (their highlight reel), we get the impression that they were invulnerable and always strong. That they are larger than life and a different breed of human being. But they are not and stories like these are not only a reminder that even the biggest person in the world had their deeply human moment, but that also each and every one of us has the same power as they have to achieve great feats.