Let’s talk heroes for a moment. Let’s talk people that you admire, let’s talk people you wish you were more like. How about you and I talk about people who matter. People you wish would come over and go swimming. People who ask you questions that change you. Not just change your opinion but literally drop you out of your self propelled doubt and instead bring you to the surface of your self like coming up for air after a really deep cliff jump. Questions you have answers for, but that you haven’t asked yourself in years. Questions that make you use your whole mind and entire heart to answer, you answer them like that because of the person who just asked you. These are answers of a very special quality. You are not making or coming up with an answer so much as you are realizing your answer. I am talking a real damn answer full of truth and knowledge and life, and pride. The kind of answer you give for five minutes, like it is rushing out of your lungs like a freight train full of cartons of real on their way to an honesty starved town somewhere in the Midwest. The kind of answer that you give once a year. I am talking about the kind of answer they write news stories about but that you delivered while sitting on your front porch with one of those people you believe completely in. Have you given an answer like that lately to a person like that?
Sometimes I dream of flying, sometimes I dream of talking in front of people, sometimes I dream of my grandfather’s face. Sometimes I wake giving that answer. I don’t know if it is the same answer, but it feels like a piece of a larger answer that is my entire purpose. I want to ask a question one day of someone younger than me, someone I believe in completely and get my answer back. Not as a contrived expectation. Not in my words, in the words of their native experience. I want to hear it from them in the way that only they can say it. I want to believe completely in everyone and it is so damn hard to find faith in everyone. But that is probably just a lack of faith in myself. I will keep trying though, I will keep trying to answer and I will keep trying to ask. But as for heroes, they are all around me. I treasure that title, I do not give it lightly, I do not pin it to the front of everyone’s shirt. But I am surrounded by them just the same. I can’t get them to leave me alone, I am plagued by heroes.
What is family, what is friendship? The world has given us fine definitions of all of this and you will spend your entire life believing in the definitions and labels you have handed out and written in all the columns next to all of the names in your head. But I would pose a point of order. Our heroes can be children, our heroes can be our enemies, our heroes can be mundane and our heroes can be flawed. We can make our heroes in people who have no idea they hold the moniker in your eyes. Many of my heroes remain masked in secrecy, not from me but from themselves. I worship certain people with a reverence that borders on… well worship.
This is how I pick a hero. I think of them as entities outside or in the abstract, away from the trials they attempt daily. I think of them in their most straight forward, I think of them sitting on a beach or next to me on a porch or across from me in a booth with a wedge of pie. I think of them in their least complicated, in the moments in which they need nothing. They just are, they just exist. They are without motion. We are all constantly in motion on this planet rotating and such, but I mean they have no motion in my presence. They are just present. My nephew and I faced an ocean like that.
My brother and I used to drive to school like that, my sister handed me her baby like that. My mother bought me Chinese food like that. I could go on, but you don’t need more examples, you know if you have been like that with me or not. Which means even if you can’t think of a time when you were my hero specifically, I can.