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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What is a Hero?

February 26, 2014

Hello, diary!  I know that I usually only write in you on Thursdays, but since I drew the PROFESSOR PLUM card in the Whatever Wednesday portion of the week, I thought it might be nice to write a little something that is quite personal, and hopefully quite profound at the same time.

You see, this post is all about heroes...and how the definition of what a hero is can change based on how old we are, or how old we get.

I open this diary entry by making a confession.  And, admittedly, it's probably one of the silliest things that I have ever admitted in this blog since I began it nearly three years ago.  At the same time, it's a nice little lead in to the main point that I want to make in this entry.

Did you know that when I was a little kid, one of the first things that I wanted to be was a Ghostbuster?  I'm not kidding either.  I really wanted to be a real life Ghostbuster, who set up the ghost traps, and who sucked the ghosts into said traps.  I wanted to be the one who stopped the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from destroying New York City. 

(Of course, it did take a bit of time for me to achieve that dream.  When I first watched Ghostbusters at the age of four or five, I was so frightened by it that I couldn't sit through the movie.)

But after watching the animated series that followed the movie release, I decided to give the movie another shot, and I'm really happy that I did upon retrospect.  It remains one of my all-time favourite eighties movies, and I find myself watching it and the 1989 sequel occasionally.

And, it was from watching the movies and the cartoon series that I decided that when I was a kid, I wanted to be a Ghostbuster.  But, not just any Ghostbuster.  I mean, sure, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson did a wonderful job as Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman, and Winston Zeddemore respectively.  But I was always an Egon Spengler fan.  Egon was definitely a guy who I definitely aspired to be, simply because he made intelligence a thing of beauty, and he certainly helped me and a lot of other people feel good about being the "brains of the operation".  He wasn't cocky about his smarts, but rather used them to help out the whole team.  An added bonus to his personality.

I guess that's why I was extremely saddened to hear about the death of the actor who played Egon Spengler in the movies.  Harold Ramis succumbed to a blood disease at just 69 years old.  And, his death certainly marked the loss of one of my childhood heroes growing up.

I think it was Ramis' portrayal of Egon Spengler that made me want to actually become a Ghostbuster as an adult.  Even though the odds of actually making a living becoming a Ghostbuster were probably higher than winning three consecutive Powerball jackpots, I would have to say that watching Ramis and all of the other actors portraying the Ghostbusters in the movie prompted my desire to be a Ghostbuster...

...well, that is until the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came along and I wanted to become one of them - which was an even more impossible dream than being a Ghostbuster!

But you know, that's what we were all like as children.  My heroes were pop culture figures like Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Some of you probably saw a sports star such as Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, or Mickey Mantle as your own personal hero.  Others might look at famous faces featured in the pages of People Magazine, Seventeen Magazine, or Sports Illustrated Magazine as heroes.

Heroes can be found everywhere in the world of popular culture.  They can be found in movies, television shows, cartoons, comic books, sporting events, and even in music.  But the truth is that behind the glitz and glamour that they represent on stage are regular, ordinary people just like you and I!  People who had heroes themselves.  I mean, yesterday I wrote a blog about George Harrison, who was inspired to play rock and roll music after listening to a song by one of his inspirations, Elvis Presley.  And, I'm sure that George Harrison wasn't the only celebrity to have someone that they looked up to as a hero or an inspiration.

But I also find that the older we get, the more that our definition of the word "hero" changes.  I think that as I matured from child to adult, I started to see people who were in my everyday life as regular, real-life heroes that we could all aspire to become.  The teacher who stayed after class to help their students pass tenth grade trigonometry could be considered a hero.  The person who hired you for a job, and took time out of their busy schedule to help you get more at ease with your job could be considered a hero.  The karate instructor who taught you the skills necessary to fend off that robber who tried to steal your handbag could be considered a hero.

And, of course, there are countless stories of human triumph and emotional tales of people sacrificing everything so that other people could live.  These include people who continue to fight for their lives, even when the cancer inside of them continues to eat away at them.  They include people who have lost a limb protecting their country from war.  They include people who ended up making the ultimate sacrifice in losing their lives so that other people can live whether it be by protecting them against danger, or donating their organs so that people can regain the ability to see, walk, or live.

Basically the point I'm trying to make is that the definition of what makes a hero is certainly subjective.  A kid who worships a football player or a caped crusader is no different than an adult looking up to a military man or a firefighter.  We all have our own definitions of what makes a hero, and I think that everyone is certainly entitled to having whatever hero you want.

In fact, I believe that in some manner, every single one of us can be a hero to somebody else, just as people can be heroes to us.  Maybe that song that was originally performed by David Bowie and covered by The Wallflowers for the 1998 film "Godzilla" said it best.

We can be heroes...just for one day.  

So, as I say goodbye to one of my childhood heroes, I think fondly of all the other heroes that I have had over the years, and I think to myself...somewhere along the way, those people have helped shape me and my personality.  How can I not be grateful to them?  And, although they may not ever know it, I am happy to have called them a hero at some point in my life.

Even though I never did become a Ghostbuster!

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