Mention heroes and the pages of a comic book come to mind, the Hollywood-ized testosterone-teeming movie star or the sword-swinging farmboy from the latest fantasy novel.
Personally I've loved each thoroughly. Perhaps it's because I'm a farmboy myself or because I've always had a taste for the fantastic, but the idea of a superhero draws me. It's the ideal made flesh in a human body, the unswayable courage of a person you know is going to come out okay at the other end of the novel, movie or comic. People, myself most assuredly, flock to that idea, hold up the hope, even if it be expressed in the glossy airbrushed pages of the graphic novel, that there is something pure in man, something noble, something worth following.
The rational among us realize it is nothing more than the wishes made in fondest part of our imaginations, that womb where our deepest thoughts and desires are nurtured and our fragile "what ifs" are free to explore and roam without criticism.
The rational among us realize people often disappoint, and we prepare for that. We stock our emotional fortifications, ready for the onslaught of mutual disappointment, of expectations not met. We bolster these things, these emotional boundaries and buffers, and ready ourselves for sharp blades that cut through them, whilst we sharpen our own and call it life.
The hard fact is that sharing our hopes, dreams and souls is opening up the gates, becoming vulnerable, becoming open to the breaking, pillaging, raping of ourselves. And yet we are those allowed inside others' precious walls, we are the guests of each other's secret gardens. Our thoughts, our deeds have the power to crush, burn and injure. They also have the power to strengthen, brace and sustain.
And so we look for that hero.
We look for one who will not disappoint, who will not abandon, who will not allow the walls to come crashing down. We look for one who has power over the normalcies of life, power to make things better, power to inspire, power to love.
We want to paint this picture, we want to tattoo it over each other's faces, in the hopes, the merest of hopes, some of it will come true. In the hopes he will be there no matter what, in the hopes she will tell you how much it means to her.
And so we set ourselves up.
We become cynical when it fails to happen, we swallow our bile and smile, despite what's happening inside. We sharpen those blades, slicing each other until we all bleed dry. We let loose the dams bracing those walls, flooding the fields with incriminations, anger and spite. Our hopes, our dreams, our star-eyed stuff, drift to the ground, laid to dust and ash and trampled underfoot.
But I've met a few people. I come across a few people that don't leave you unchanged, no matter what you say beforehand or what you think after meeting them. I've met a few, a fire lit in their eyes, a passion bleeding out in their voices, actions and deeds.
A fire not to destroy, but to ignite. A fire to light up the flickering imagination that was languishing in despair or apathy. A fire to steal your breath and quicken it, changing it into something magical, validating this mortal coil. There are those few good people out there who cannot leave you unmarked. And it's worth the wait, it's worth the search, to find those few good people.
They're human too, obviously, but they want something more, the gripping kind of experiencing of life leaving you panting in its wake. They encourage you, through words and example, to change for the better. They may disappoint, they may hurt, but not because they intend to. They look for the best in someone and wish for it to come out, to unfold from its cocoon and become something beautiful, something more, something others will look at and desire to change too.
This is my tribute to them.
Look for them, and don't stop looking.
Thank you Mike and Kendall.