Heroes

 

 

A while back, I wrote a piece about my TV moms (read it here). I shared quite a bit in that post and I told the truth. Maybe too much truth, but the truth, just the same.

 

In that piece, I referenced a few characters from television shows and how much they meant to me. I cannot emphasize enough what those women gave me. Screwed-up kid that I was, I benefited from those women’s strength and values. Even thinking of them now brings me comfort. And that’s lovely. I think it’s fair to say those beautiful characters were my heroes. Still are.

 

I don’t often get to meet a real-to-me hero. (I guess most of us don’t experience that privilege.) I know some folks believe we shouldn’t meet our heroes. That a face-to-face meeting with someone we’ve looked up to can only lead to disappointment. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity if it presented itself. I mean – would you?

 

Anyhoo – last month I was minding my own lady-club business when I looked up and saw one of my very own heroes: Miss Michael Learned from TV’s The Waltons. Turns out we have a mutual friend. And that friend had quietly invited Miss Learned to lunch, knowing it would serve as a lovely surprise to me. It most definitely did.

 

I can’t speak to the experiences of others when it comes to meeting heroes. I can’t claim a shared disappointment or letdown, and I can’t relate to watching a hero fall. I can only tell you that when I met one of my heroes, Miss Michael Learned, my heart was full and my admiration swelled. She was even cooler than I ever imagined. Sometimes life is grand.

 

 

Heroes

 

 

I’d been waiting to watch it. My friend Betro was waiting, too, so that we could watch together: the Kate Bush documentary that recently aired on BBC. A buddy had sent a copy from the UK and Betro and I wanted to make it an occasion.

 

When we finally sat down together, our focus on the television screen, neither of us had any idea what to expect. Betro pressed play…

 

Do you have heroes? Do you have people whose talents you admire, if not downright envy? Is there someone in the world you look up to? Someone you don’t actually know, yet you’re grateful for?

 

Kate Bush is one such person for me. And while I have her entire musical catalog in my possession, I can’t say I’ve ever known much about her. Her personal life has never been a topic of conversation in my little world. And I’m not so stalkerish as to wonder where she lives or how she goes about her day-to-day existence. All I’ve cared about is the music. Her songs have provided refuge and entertainment. I’ve listened to her music when I’ve felt alone and when I’ve wanted to dance. I’ve depended on her talents for inspiration and comfort. Again and again, her music has been there for me.

 

When the documentary ended, I covered my face with my hands, to enclose my tears. I finally looked up and saw Betro doing the same. It seemed we were both profoundly affected by the Kate Bush doc. Our ensuing conversation covered not only our feelings about the documentary, but also our personal histories with the music of Kate Bush. We talked about how we perceived her talents and choices. We talked about our own life choices. And fear. How there’s far too much of it. How it cripples.

 

And we talked about how grateful we are that some folks find a way to move through their own fear (if they have it) and produce beauty in this world. About how our tears were joyful. About how nice it was to be able to share our thoughts and feelings together.

 

Heroes sometimes wear uniforms. Sometimes they stand high above the rest of us. More often than not, however, they look just like us. Doing their best to get along in this world with what they’ve got. Make no mistake – they are not without fear. Like us, their thoughts occasionally run to the perceived pain of failure. But unlike many of us, they go ahead and try to make their lives into – something.

 

Thank goodness.

Madiba

 

 

True heroes are incredibly rare. They aren’t perfect, nor do they pretend to be. They are often quite flawed. Their flaws are what make their heroism all the more impressive.

 

Nelson Mandela – may he rest in peace – was a wonderfully-flawed, fantastic hero. During my life he has been an inspiration and a role-model. While I am saddened by his passing, I am also beyond grateful he walked this earth. He accepted the role of public figure and endured some of life’s worst perils. He didn’t have to. He didn’t have to serve. He didn’t have to stand up and represent the human race. But he did.

 

And the world is better for his leadership. I know I certainly am.