Over the past few months, I have pondered the idea of “greatness.” What is it to be “great?” What is it to be a “hero?” Perhaps even, what is it to be “brave?”
There are professions that are associated with being heroes – police, fire, medical, military… Those professions that are about stepping into harms way to protect and defend. They are often professions that put the life of another above their own – or those who are willing to risk their lives for others. These are brave people who are often called “heroes.”
While considering these ideas, I read Jay’s “Hero” last week. The post immediately spoke to me in that I found myself singing the theme from a television show of the past “The Greatest American Hero.” Reading Jays’ words helped clarify my own thoughts on what it is to be a “hero” or to be “great” or even to be “brave.”
I have come to realize that people choose to do amazing things with their lives. Some are called to the military or to serve in the police force or to perform to their highest potential in emergencies on a daily basis. They save lives. They defend the common good. They put their own lives on the line.
Other people are called to live a different life – they walk a different path. There are people who risk for the environment. Others devote their lives to children or to protecting animals. Still others are all about peace. Different lives; different paths, different choices.
Books and movies and some of the people I know might suggest that prince charming or princess gorgeous is a hero – someone who saves them personally from *swoon* a life that they would rather not have.
How do we determine who is a “hero?”
It is a concept that most likely is defined differently by everyone – subjective in its nature. We each probably have a general definition for “hero” and then we have a definition that is just ours allowing us to point to individuals and say “That is my hero.”
I do think it is wonderful that we have people willing to risk their lives for others – willing to put themselves on the line saving people and providing a sense of safety and order to the world at large. I do believe that there are other heroes – and they don’t wear uniforms nor do they take oaths. They often don’t receive special training or any particular education.
A few years ago I remember talking to a man who suggested that people often believe his grandparents to be heroes or to be great because of their lives during the depression and how they worked their way from that – pulling themselves “up from their boot straps.” He questioned whether this was “great” or whether this was “life?”
I have been noted as a “hero” by people from my past because of all that I have done and accomplished despite my visual impairment. Was I doing anything amazing? Yes… I was living my life. I made a choice to be myself and live my life vision challenges or not.
So is a “Hero” someone who does what we believe we could not do ourselves – thus that person is heroic in our eyes?
When a person lives a life that scares us, risks fulfilling their dreams when we are afraid to do so, or pulls themselves up by their boot straps… Are these heroes?
In other words, given that we define who is and is not “our hero,” do we base that definition on our own experiences and beliefs?
For me, a hero is a little different. As my life evolved, I have come to define hero as someone who does take the risks, someone who faces their internal fears and comes to terms with them, and someone who follows their own path over relying upon the expectations of society or others. My heroes are those who accept the conflicts and the challenges – and come out of them with head held high and lessons learned or with the recognition of the opportunities that exist as a result of the conflict. It is the person who is afraid of public speaking, yet works and risks and moves toward making that fear powerless. It is the person who leaves the corporate world to pursue a dream or live in alignment with their integrity. It is the person who lives consciously – with the understanding that we make our own choices and create as we go. It is my dad who risks his job to stand up for his crew – who uses his voice to ensure that he is true to himself and his care for those around him. It is my mom who has to face the fear of being alone at some point – with eyes open over hiding behind rose colored glasses. It is my daughter who chooses to overcome her anger and emotions to speak her thoughts out loud even when those thoughts and feelings are the ones that scare her. They are the animals who share our lives, love us, and teach us.
People who look at themselves and make choices to live with integrity. People who risk the love and companionship of others in order to be true to themselves and their paths. Those who let go…
How ever one defines it, there are “heroes” in our midst. They come in so many forms and colors and packages. They are big and small, stand on two legs or four, or more. They are often heroes to us without ever knowing how they have touched our lives or that they have done anything heroic.
I have many heroes for many different reasons... and I am my own hero as I am just me.