Should We Meet Our Heroes?

During the recent World Cup I have heard the word ‘hero’ casually bandied about to describe the exploits of young men who get paid millions of pounds every year to kick a ball around a field. The same applies to our favourite actors, musicians and authors. I’m as susceptible to this idolatry as any of us. If Eric Cantona walked into the room now I’d probably turn into a gibbering wreck. And when I bumped into Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones in Belfast a few years back I was a gibbering wreck.

Did I say bumped into? That might be a slight manipulation of the truth and by that I mean an outright lie. I actually stalked them through the city centre before cornering them in a jewellery store where I refused to let them leave until I had my photograph taken with them. Thankfully they were both lovely about it. There were no diva outbursts or exaggerated eye rolling. I floated off on my little cloud nine and all was well with the world.

They, for it is always they, say never meet your heroes for they will invariably prove a disappointment. We find out that they are not the perfect creations we had imagined them to be. They are as flawed and tarnished as the rest of us. Just because you are skilled at kicking a ball or strumming a guitar doesn’t mean you are a wonderful human being. When they step down from the pedestal we have placed them upon and face us eye to eye we see beyond the carefully crafted image. We see them for who they really are as opposed to who we so desperately want them to be.

Hero worship is idolatry and the latter reflects an inadequacy within us that we seek to fill with fickle fantasies. There is a hole within us, something is missing so we grasp at the first thing we can find to plug the gap. It can be a pop star, a baseball player or a Kardashian. Worse still it can be an addiction. Why worship a person when you can worship food, alcohol or drugs? They are so much more accessible. We pump our bodies and minds with images and substances; anything to stop us from looking in the mirror.

Mirrors tend not to lie. Our minds eye does. Mirrors strip away the facade and reveal the present in all its not so glorious glory. I personally tend to avoid them for I don’t particularly like what I see looking back at me. The Stephen Black I want to be, I need to be, is not there. I’m not handsome enough, I’m not clever enough, I’m not popular enough. I’m not a sub 3:30 marathon runner. I’m not a published author. I’m not the world’s best father or husband. I’m not anything really.

But then I look beyond my personal pity party, beyond the vain, selfish thoughts that warp and corrupt my perception. I see my wife and kids. I see the people in my life who accept and love me for who I am, warts and all. I see the people who turn up every day for me, who support and encourage me in whatever hare brained scheme I am chasing at any given time. These are the people who you get out of bed for and trudge into work for, day after monotonous day.

Why? Because they are our real heroes. They are the people we are learning from, they are the kindred souls who we smooth our rough edges against, who help to mould us into the people that God created us to be; despite our kicking and screaming every step of the way. They keep us on the path and prevent us from wandering off and along more treacherous routes that lead to dead ends and deadlier drops. They are our signposts, our beacons in the darkness. They are our very lives, our reasons for being.

Never meet your heroes? I disagree. I say meet them. Open your eyes and look around for they are there, right beside you, as you muddle through life. They are our family, our friends, our daily dose of inspiration. See them for who they really are and, in doing so, be grateful that they have been placed in our lives for a reason. They are an oasis of hope, grace and love in this barren desert we trudge across. If we appreciate the everyday heroes around us we are a step closer to becoming reluctant heroes ourselves. For they need us just as much as we need them.

Have you ever met a celebrity and been disappointed by them?

Who are the everyday heroes in your life?

45 thoughts on “Should We Meet Our Heroes?

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  1. Shortly after marrying, I sat next to one of my heroes at a church meeting. She was ever so nice and I was terribly nervous.
    Later, I told my husband she’d been so kind she even shared one of her breathmints with me when she took one for herself. “Chelsea,” he explained, “That’s how people politely tell you your breath stinks.”
    Oh well.

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  2. That’s truly lovely and I hope you have placed it firmly in front of your wife so that she can read it … The only famous person I’ve ever met is James Blunt (and his parents). He’s an old army friend of The Colonel. He was sharp, witty and rather charming (with an extremely beautiful wife) and his parents are incredibly generous and kind. For once I didn’t stutter, stammer, dribble or just stand gormlessly with my mouth open, but perhaps that was because we’d just been to his concert and I had a completely overwhelmed and hormonal blub during one of his songs. So perhaps I’d got it all out of my system. So thankfully that was a good meeting of an idol. Oh, I forgot, I have met someone else (from a short distance so perhaps not really ‘met’) … the Queen. We went to one of her garden parties a few weeks ago at the Palace and yes, I was disappointed – she’s just so small. She’s tiny! Rather sweet actually. I usually feel rather gangly next to anyone less than 5’6”. However the gardens were lovely. 😀

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      1. Yes, good lake. Given the choice I’d rather have a stream in my garden but I suppose unless they redivert the Thames a bit it’s not possible. Although actually I saw a programme on telly about The Thames and the sewerage system which overflows into it, and I must say, I wouldn’t want the smelly, ghastly stuff from there flowing through my veg patch.

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      1. I was in Cheltenham yesterday and went by bus so had several hours to tap away at it which was lovely. Really enjoyed it … I weirdly like doing it on public transport. Most odd. How’s yours?

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  3. I’ve met Rob Bell twice in real life and not disappointed either time. The first when he was at the top of his preaching game and the second after his fall for the Love Wins book. Both times he really was the same as he was in preaching life.
    Now there are some bloggers I would love to meet in real life and you are on the list. But don’t worry I won’t stalk you because I’m a fruitcake about leaving the states. Hahaha.

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  4. I really like the thoughts and depth of this post. I like deep. 😛 I have met a couple of celebrities over here in the U.S. I wrote one of those stories for my blog and the other is a short story in my memoir collection. In short, both couldn’t have been nicer, especially the one I wrote about on my blog. https://loreezlane.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/mystical-tours-1-2/

    Because of some dysfunctional issues, my mom never used to be my hero, but now she has become my hero. She battles illness every day and doesn’t let it get her down. She keeps pushing forward and keeps active when she can.

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  5. Well said. One of my heroes is Dr. Julio Cortes, my Arabic professor and thesis advisor in grad school. He was an exemplar of the scholarly discipline and personal probity that I aspired to.

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  6. I’ve met celebrities before and definitely been disappointed by them because in interviews they put on this persona of someone they are not and then when you see them in an actual social setting they are nothing like that it’s upsetting but I guess their pr team is pretty amazing!

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  7. Love this . It’s quotable “ Never meet your heroes? I disagree. I say meet them. Open your eyes and look around for they are there, right beside you, as you muddle through life. They are our family, our friends, our daily dose of inspiration. See them for who they really are and, in doing so, be grateful that they have been placed in our lives for a reason. They are an oasis of hope, grace and love in this barren desert we trudge across. If we appreciate the everyday heroes around us we are a step closer to becoming reluctant heroes ourselves. For they need us just as much as we need them “

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  8. When I was 20 I drove to my moms in New Hampshire from Massachusetts ( only 1/2 hour by car) and stopped at Burger King. I walked in and glanced over to see none but Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler sitting with his young children and wife. So I walked up to him and quietly asked,”are you Steve Tyler?” to which he replied,”yep.” So I excitedly asked,”can I get your autograph?!” and he said,” sure.” He was and is so unpretentious and super chill. Heroes, that’s a tougher question I’d have to ponder.

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