If you ask people today whether or not heroes exist you’ll probably get one of three kinds of answers. There are those that may respond with a resounding no, that there are no such things as heroes, that they’re merely only ever characters in novels or movies; characters that we can only fantasize about. Some might respond by saying maybe; there may be or there may not be, but who knows really. There are so many things out there in the universe yet to be discovered, maybe heroes do exist. And then there are those who will, with great confidence, say of course, of course heroes exist. Which category do you feel like you fall under?
Growing up I felt like I knew what constituted a hero. It wasn’t hard, most heroes in movies and novels displayed rather similar characteristics. I knew heroes were always there for others. It wasn’t uncommon for heroes to be portrayed as someone who used their abilities to help complete strangers. The hero could have just as easily used their powers only for their personal gain, or even be indifferent about a stranger being in danger, but more often than not I saw heroes as people who felt a strong sense of duty to use their abilities to help others. I knew heroes were extremely humble. If I saw someone who accepted fame, glory, or demanded recognition I wrote the individual off as the villain of the story, and was generally right in my assumption. And I also knew heroes were people that made great sacrifices. So many times I saw heroes risk their personal life, their sanity and often even their life for the sake of others. It wasn’t a surprise to see another hero whose only weakness was their concern for others. I knew exactly what made a hero. What I didn’t know, was how to see a hero.
In regards to the question at the beginning I, now, fall into the third category. Often times I’ll hear people wish for heroes to be real. They’ll talk about how much they, or even others, are suffering and how great it would be if heroes suddenly showed up to make the world right, as if they’re waiting for some kind of savior. What I wanted to get off my mind today is the fact that heroes do exist and that they are already here with us. Can you see them? I know I couldn’t see them until these past few years. You see heroes do exist in this reality, but they’re not as we originally imagined them to be. It was hard for me to see them at first, I only ever knew of heroes as those in tights and capes. It was also tricky to me because in this reality they didn’t go by the title of heroes, or superheroes, but rather by a different alias. Have you figured it out, do you know what they’re called?
Friends. When was the last time, if ever, did you see your friends as heroes? I think it’s rather amazing that I can say that my friends are heroes without any sense of irony or exaggeration. This thought has actually come up time and time again, but this is the first time I’m writing about it. I’ve always felt like I would not be here if it weren’t for those that I called friends. These friends of mine are just as I describe heroes to be. They are indiscriminate in helping complete strangers. As I’m a rather reserved person, the way I got to know most of my friends was through them either introducing themselves to me or helping me in someway. The way I saw it, these then strangers saw someone who was alone, felt bad, and sought to keep me company out of pity. Whenever the topic came up though, each one of my friends have always told me, with what I can only see as complete genuineness and sincerity, is that they merely saw another person and thought ‘I should get to know them’; nothing more, nothing less. Not out of pity or concern, but just from the simple idea that we as classmates or people should be friends. And the humility and sacrifices that I just don’t think I can do justice to. How do you describe the kindness of a friend who takes time out of their day to simply keep you company? How do you convey the significance of the relentlessly caring friends who not only see the lonely kids that hide behind fortresses, but also stay long enough to pull them out? How do you even begin to describe the types of friends who you feel you can trust with your life more than you do yourself?
I’ve once been told that we, as people, have limitations; that in the context of dependability and what we can do for one-another, there’s a capacity. While I would have accepted that when I was younger, I now know better. Whether there’s a limit or not, I know that there’s at the very least not an effective / relevant one. That should there truly be a capacity to how much we can do or how much we can care for one another, that it wouldn’t matter because that capacity would be so high.
So this post is for all of those that I have been so fortunate as to call my friends. While others continue to wait for their hero to come, I have chosen to acknowledge the heroes that walk among us.