Fair enough, but daunting; better described for knights who jousted in medieval times. Or even mythical, as in the stories of the damsels in distress being rescued by some brave and strong young man riding up on a white horse; a “fine Arab charger” in the words of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
Mick and Keith were my heroes at some points of my life, as were John, Paul, George and Ringo. But why? Because they could write songs? Is that what makes a hero?
There are as many definitions and interpretations of hero as there are people. For a divorced father of two daughters, one a teenager and the other a pre-teen, the answer is easy: I’m their hero, and in their own ways, they are each mine. Holding the word as lofty as traditionalists do doesn’t allow for everyday acts of heroism I believe committed by those who may be judged to perform less than “brave deeds” or possess less than “noble qualities.”
When I got divorced from their mother, it triggered all sorts of abandonment issues from my own childhood and I was determined not to repeat the same mistakes, nor commit the same acts of emotional cruelty on my children that my mother and father performed on me. I have always been very close to my girls. When I went through my New Warrior Training Adventure in December of 2000, I sat in the initial circle that first night and cried my eyes out, saying that I missed my daughter because even though she was only three years old at the time, she was my best friend in the world. I still consider my daughters to be my best friends in the world.
So does that determination to remain in their lives, to make their childhood as “normal” as possible despite the circumstances, make me a hero? I think so. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to hear an argument against it.
In my judgment, any father who is simply there for his kids and his family–who is simply present for them–is a hero. A smart man told me once: “Even if you’re not doing anything with your kids, if you’re just sitting there doing nothing with them, you’re still doing something.” So many men in our country are absent from their children’s lives for a myriad of reasons and it is now a leading cause of juvenile crime and gang activity. Conversely, my daughters are my heroes. So many times I have told my youngest child, “no matter what anyone says to you, or what tone they take when they say it, you always come back with so much love in your heart.”
To me, that’s a hero.
Or, when my oldest daughter, unspoken, gives me a hug just because whether she needs one at that moment, or senses that I need one.
To me, that’s a hero.
Heroes are out there every day, all around, everywhere you look. If we believe we are all heroes, then we are. It’s as easy as telling someone you love that you love them.
photo: throughmyeyes / flickr