The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.
Every time somebody asks for a list of my heroes, I experience emotional turbulence. It begins with the same symptoms of both, creative anxiety and impostor syndrome. I go around and around, torn between curiosity and resistance, while my mind it’s occupied with the overbearing crap of its inner roommate ruminating: I know so little about these people! How can I put anybody on my list? Many of my heroes are fictional characters, what if they have awful secrets? What if I don’t have heroes at all!
Absolute madness! I agree.
The first thing I need to acknowledge here is the deeply ingrained habit of second-guessing myself based on the belief that I need to be perfect; which accounts for the “black and white” thinking that pressures me to have all the answers or retreat.
The second one is the length of my list! I never go for simple answers, my lists- even my to-do list- are long, intricate and varied. I could berate myself for not complying to our short-bullet-point culture; but I’ve come to realize that I feel, live and think in a “blockbuster mode.”
I explained ‘my problem’ to the person in question who replied back: Care to elaborate?
When a subject of interest sparks my creativity, I go holographic -with special effects included! Some instinct unremittingly clicks unto an imaginary virtual screen and the array of information hitting all my modalities of perception is well, vast to say the least.
Ergo, I began connecting and grouping names around qualities.
Anxiety levels? Down.
Care to elaborate?
What I see in these people, fictional or not; is the set of principles, aspirations, and actions, I dream for myself and the world. Together, they speak about what is most deeply human and imperfectly beautiful and the unlimited possibilities of the eternal in us. They give me hope and remind me every day that I have a choice: to surrender to those instincts and desires that reduce me to a lifeless puppet, a victim of circumstances; or to cling with all my heart to those scary ones that challenge me but fill me with awe and gratitude for being alive.
My list of heroes thus is about:
Doing the Impossible
Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
Francis of Assisi
I believe in the unlimited power of the invisible in us, the soul, our imagination, love, i.e.; and I need my heroes to remind me that I have a choice. I can surrender to my circumstances or go for gold. I included in my list heroes, women who fought the most discriminating and adverse circumstances and remained true to themselves, they not only honored their amazing talents, they made them shine bright and served the same society that dismissed and judged them as less in such a way that it changed history. ( Katherine Jonson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -Hidden Figures, Jane Austen, Amelia Earhart, Lizzy Bennet, Anne Shirley, etc.).
Artistry & Mastery
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
I admire people who have taken their craft to the highest levels of excellence, but I kneel in amazement to those who understood that magic lives not in virtuosity but artistry; that undefinable quality of being able to deliver something so powerful and unfathomable that seems touched by the Divine. (Da Vinci, Streep, Dali, Casals, Björling, etc.)
Imagination & Vision
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
Reality seems to be coerced by prejudices and the endless cycle of history repeating itself. We want answers, but only those that keep us in control and match our criteria of right and wrong. It so hard to open new paths and embark on a quest that might take our whole lives, to only catch a glimpse of what it might be contained in our universe or the human consciousness! How incredible it is that some people not only dare to do that but make it so irresistibly beautiful and inspiring that it reaches men and women of all walks in life. (Tolkien, C.S Lewis, Dr. Seuss, Rilke, Kandinsky, Gaudi, Lloyd Wright, etc. )
Honor and Nobility
The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be.
I hear about a time in which our word had weight, it wasn’t given easily because our word was our bond. Honor didn’t distinguish between friends or enemies, rich or poor, leader or follower. It’s easy to be honorable when you are unchallenged. I admire those who show high moral character and stand behind their words and actions, even in the most adverse or tempting circumstances; those who follow Saint Francis de Sales words: nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.
Honor and nobility for me are rooted in those stern and unyielding principles we live for, that support and shape the many values people and societies hold dear. It’s what remains when everything else is taking away (King Arthur and The Knights, Anne of Green Gables, Bill Parish, Victor Frank, Messiaen, Aragon, etc.)
Compassion and Bravery
Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.
When you have the power to rule and bring your enemies to their knees, you could use it for your gain, to avoid risks or effort, to bring the worst in yourself and others and to inflict pain. You might see yourself as the bearer of justice and become cruel and find infinite ways to justify a lack of decency and kindness.
My heroes, could click their finger and make things disappear, turn the world upside down, or rule nature; they could allow their egos to be in control or force others into battle while remaining comfortably seated in their thrones. They don’t; they understand that with great power comes great responsibility, that the consequences of our actions can go beyond what we might foresee, that is never the mark of a true leader to humiliate or abuse, to coerce others to do your bidding.
It’s also easy to criticize and complain about things when you are not the one handling them. My heroes put their lives on stake for what they believe, they don’t ask from others what they are not willing to do. They understand that is not power or wealth, but what you do with it, that speaks of greatness; they acknowledge and take responsibility for their mistakes and failures and celebrate their triumphs collectively.
My heroes give praise where its due and place compassion, duty and love above anything else. They enjoy the simple joys of life and understands their ephemeral nature. (Merlin, Aragorn, Legolas, Gandalf, Arwen, Mathilda, etc.)
Genius and Vulnerability
Talent perceives differences; genius, unity.
William Butler Yeats
Today we are so afraid and ashamed of our humanity, we silence our longings and voices and sleepwalk unto a definition of progress and success that is killing our souls and our planet. We speak in labels, categories, numbers, differences, and colors and bury deep down whatever is that we might share with the other. My heroes see threads uniting heavens and Earth, they see one heart in many bodies speaking loudly the universal language of what matters, they stand tall despite the ignorance and aren’t afraid of complexity ( Tolle, Chopra, Williamson, Confucious, Plato, Wheatley, etc.)
In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.
My heroes are great thinkers and adventurers, visionaries how have imprinted in time what can be felt and recognized when seen; but is almost impossible to define. They are creators, curators, innovators, they hold the key to invaluable knowledge and secrets and share them with the world when is most needed even if it means death, isolation or prison. (Thoreau, Byron, R.W. Emerson, J. Hillman, etc.)
As I said above, my heroes are too many to list here and most of them are imperfectly human. They embody and exemplify one or many qualities I would like to champion. My Heroes help me ponder about what constitutes being what one ought to be, ‘the man inside the man’-Plato would say- and invoke powerful inner forces that propel me to expand and grow.
- mskatherynne- Lamp Post Brave- https://pixabay.com/photos/lamp-post-post-brave-kid-child-3968837/
- Hartwig HKD– Impossible: https://www.flickr.com/photos/h-k-d/6984394425/
- Belle deese- Fellowship of the Ring- https://art.alphacoders.com/arts/view/99370
- Philippe Leone –A Long Climb- https://unsplash.com/photos/IFAjplAqjos
- Barbara A Lane- Purple Mandala- https://pixabay.com/photos/purple-mandala-fractal-glass-935012/
- Johannes Plenio-Nautre- https://pixabay.com/photos/nature-forest-trees-light-sun-fog-3151869/