10.02.2009

Hero

Many little children long to be fire fighters, police officers, or EMS personnel. They want to help people and, unconsciously, they seek to be citizens worthy of public approval. Unhindered by societies appetite for defamation and luscious gossip, children seek to help others. They like praise. Elementary school teachers give stickers and write words of praise on completed homework. It boosts self-esteem and their perspective of self-worth.

Other children, more in tune with movies or video games or comics, want to be superheros! When they grow up they want to be superman, spider-man, the hulk (well....maybe that was just me), wonder woman...people who, out of the kindness of their hearts and the magnitude of their ability, helped others without much reward, save the occasional "thanks!"

One of my best friends taught me a few years ago that it's ok to keep childish tendencies whilst growing up. And I agree.

I still want to be a hero.

Not the kind that rushes into a burning building to rescue an unconscious child. Not the kind that leaps tall buildings in a single bound and saves the elderly from a wayward train. Not the kind that travels the world, takes up arms against our adversaries, and defends the freedoms we daily take. Those heroes are much greater than myself.

All I want is to make a difference in someone's life.

I live a modest life. I tend to not buy expensive things or have pricey tastes...aside from a deep love of seafood. And cool electronics. But in general, I have a very moderate lifestyle. The things in which I do engage, however, fascinate me. And I, like many of you (presumably), enjoy being intrigued.

Magic has always fascinated me. I've always wanted to do magic tricks. To me, it would be one of the coolest things ever just to do some little slight-of-hand trick. Turn a handkerchief into a rose. Levitate an object. Make a tennis ball disappear.

I've had people tell me that I am interesting, or that I make them smile (that's one of my favorites...I love making people smile). I feel like I'm actually contributing to humanity when I have positive effects on people, as if my existence does mean something and I am making a difference.

But a smile doesn't tide me over forever. And a chuckle at some terribly punny joke won't satisfy.

Someday, many years from now, I would love to run into an old friend. And I want talk to them, catch up on our lives for the past few years...decades...however long. And at the end, they sigh, look at me, and say "remember when we used to spend a lot of time together? Those are still some of my best memories. Thank you for being my friend, and thank you for making me the person I am today. I look back on some of our conversations and realize that we were good for each other." And then I will also look at that person and realize how good he or she was for me.

I feel silly, I really do. But if that happened...just a 10 minute encounter unfolded... I could die a completely satisfied life knowing that someone's entire life was changed for the better because of me.

Another one of my favorite scenarios. I plan on teaching. Someday in the future I get a letter in the mail from a former student. That person is inviting me to a presentation that (s)he is doing in a field of study that I encouraged him/her to pursue. And when I arrive, I am introduced as the one who helped that person through the hard times to pursue a dream.

No one can live forever. People have tried, and the closest that we have come up with is to make a scientific law and be remembered forever. I mean...who DOESN'T know about Archimedes?

But I don't want to live forever...just for a little longer. Maybe it's a week, a month, or 15 years. But I want to be remembered as someone who matters and made a difference.

One man cannot move a world, but one man can move another. And through this all the people of the world can move. I cannot do the impossible, just the highly improbable. Don't ask a miracle, just ask a favor. It's basically the same thing, but the latter sounds doable.