This year everything has changed, I am seeking a renewal of faith, the people I once turned to are now gone. I have an urge to hold onto what was, when I know that I cannot. My hands open and close, reaching out for a tangible fact to hold onto. I simply end up grasping faded light and playing with shadows, I’m left sat in the dark, wishing I could get up and turn the lights on, but I can’t. I’ve forgotten where the switch is. At these times I reach out my hands and see who wants to hold them. I’ve been asking friends, fellow students, neighbours, work colleagues, what is a personal hero? My husband wrote:-
‘A hero, as a concept it’s very compelling – the individual that will endure hardships and terror to save others from oppression or some other manner of adversity. The hero that possesses skills and/ or resources that are rare amongst the hero’s peers. For me my heroes are the ones that can articulate big ideas, noble ideals, those that communicate in such an effective way as to bring positive change to their communities, to inspire and shine light of truth and clarity in places where others are happy to scrabble in the dark. For me the heroes are of the pen and not the sword, from Gandhi to Noam Chomsky.’ Tom MacCallum
I asked, writer Stuart Wakefield who is your personal hero?
James Dean and Marlon Brando might have been heralded as the faces of the new wave of acting, but, for me, it was Montgomery Clift. Witness any close-up shot of Clift and you’ll see a lot going on in his eyes. You can see what he’s thinking without him saying a word. That was ground-breaking at the time. Clift was a hugely popular actor, sizzling on screen with Elizabeth Taylor in several movies. But there was an ongoing struggle with illness and sexuality that I think informed his style, too. Clift knew what physical and emotional suffering felt like and was able to project that through the camera and onto film. – Stuart.
Too many of my personal heroes have left this world in the last few months, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Robin Williams and Rick Mayall to name a few. I still see them in their books and films around me. I feel blessed I’ve lived a life where I have witnessed their creations. I’ve spoken with my friends, family and colleagues about this, it’s a shared conversation. I’m seeing community projects popping up all over the place, ‘what super hero are you’, ‘who are your heroes’, we are a community searching for guidance. I’m reminded once more that it’s too easy to dine at the media table and worship the rough diamonds that have been polished too brightly, by the cameras that created them. Is that to cynical? There are times when all I can do is rest on the truth of other people’s creativity, in those times my life path is held safe in those hands that dared to be bold. I lean on old quotes and trust.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats
Right now though, I’m all caught up in other people’s magic and convince myself I’m not worthy. Why? The truth of how small and ordinary I am overwhelms me, how far away I am from greatness. I’m nowhere near being the burning star in someone else’s galaxy. What’s the point to life, if I can’t be that? I have to sit, still and wait for the noise to clear from my head. I need to re-think what being outstanding means to me.
A friend of mine who brightens my day with her on-line photos and unique perspectives shared this with me:-
‘I had a hero. I admired his quirky personality, his love of animals, his quirky music and his art, especially his BIG art that he’d do in no time at all. I’d read his autobiography. I was impressed. I loved his book about his first pet, really heart warming. What a big heart! I’d had an admiration for this person since childhood, then recently he was convicted for historical inappropriate behaviour towards women and under age girls. Why have a hero on a pedestal when really you don’t know anything about them? Conclusion, my heroes are the two that created me, I know them and they know me.’ Aliene
I messaged a friend of mine who is able to articulate the things that some people are scared to say, she said:-
‘I can’t quite think about who is a hero at the moment as I’m not in a hero head space and feel a bit disillusioned about people and hero and people are real not heroes, with their faults and bits and bobs and people who I have thought are heroic are just muddling through.’ Jules
As I sit here, with my own stillness, I notice more about the people around me, the people I’m usually rushing past in order to move on to greater things. I create new titles for these people who are the tapestry of my life. I see my neighbour doing essential community work, checking up on the elders in our street, I take away the label, ‘un-employed’ and re-name her community worker. The woman I see changing her environment, planting seeds for food in forgotten places, I take away the label volunteer and add activist. I witness the bravery in teenagers who dare to stand up to the prejudice around them, boys who wear dresses, girls who speak up. Everyday heroes. People in my life who don’t give up, who turn their lives around after the death of a child, a parent, a loved one. People who re-create themselves from the beginning, not afraid to stare at the bare bones of their lives and build a new one. These are the people who truly inspire me, the ones that rise up and start again and again and again and again. Whether these human beings carry on in the quiet streets of their own neighbourhoods or the bright lights of the stage.
In the words of Dr.Suess:
”Don’t give up! I believe in you all.
A person’s a person, no matter how small!
And you very small persons will not have to die
If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!“
Copyright:- Jenny Drew