A Hero On My Doorstep


Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Also, in all ages. The nice thing about heroes is that they never consider themselves to be much beyond the ordinariness of the rest of us. They go about their heroism quietly, easily. It’s the essence of their uniqueness, their strength. It’s how we know, in our hearts, they are true heroes.

Here’s one of my heroes. Can you guess his age? It’s all there to discover.

Sensible works. He likes to keep it real, to roll it around in his mind until it makes sense. Now, some things don’t fit perfectly, won’t yield to sense right now. But that doesn’t end the story. What doesn’t make sense today will probably do so tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Eventually, it all comes together if you just work on it. That’s called optimism. That demands patience. Who can resist that kind of thinking? Isn’t that the way to keep yourself on a steady path through life?

Intensity is fun. I feel it and I want you to feel it also. Life is an exercise in passion, not just thinking. Feelings matter. Passions count. Intensity magnifies experience, excites new ideas, is the mother and father of fresh thinking. It’s also contagious. Without the feeling, life can get pretty bland, right?

Freud's diagrams from 'The Ego and the Id' (1923)

Exit the ego. Life is not all about him. He’s just a player and he understands that role. Sure, life is personal. But it’s personal for everyone. Other people share that same feeling about life and he recognizes that reality. His ego is just right. Not too small to be painful, not too large to be overwhelming. It’s a good fit because it views others with their unique worth and role. He doesn’t need to scream to be heard. A whisper is good enough.

Trying will get you there. It’s all about moving ahead. Sure, the past provides important lessons, both fun and painful. But that’s not where he wants to spend his time. It’s all about the future. Getting there takes work. Trying works well, sometimes. Sometimes, not so much. But he knows you get nowhere without the engine running, without keeping on. Even first gear can give you a good ride.

Even bad times are good. There’s good stuff everywhere, he says. You just have to dig a bit deeper sometimes. Yep, it’s that old optimism thing at work again. That’s an infectious attitude, something that is hard to resist. Of all the gates in the world, small and large, each has a bit of a smile emblazoned on the lock, he tells me. This is the best part of looking back, remembering, mulling over those times. It’s a powerful form of inspiration. At the soul of everything there lurks some nugget of goodness.

Everything is interesting. The world is alive with fascinating people, creatures, events, encounters and possibilities. You can take any one of them, no matter how tiny or seemingly insignificant, and find a new point of interest, another view of it all. The jigsaw goes on forever and it’s forever fascinating. Want to talk about something? Go ahead, pick the subject. He has something to say because he knows there is always a small mystery sleeping behind the obvious. Life is full of endless surprises.

Nobody should suffer forever. Bad times happen, he says. We all get the bumps and bruises. But none of this goes on forever. We tough it out. We know there will always be the next moment, the next day, the next opportunity. No matter how badly it hurts, we will heal, someday. It’s the lesson of patience and the power that comes from always looking ahead, wondering about that next horizon.

No, he would never recognize himself as a hero. Just another one of us milling around, fumbling and discovering, wondering and hoping. He’s taking the ride along with the rest of us, working out the details along the way, always hopeful and forever interested.

But isn’t that a good definition of hero?


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