Don't really know what to write. But I've promised myself I will. Ok, how about a short piece about ‘Heroes’.
I think I’ve probably felt* let down by one recently. It’s probably not hard to guess who it is if you’ve been reading the last couple of these :)
But I don’t want to make it about that person specifically (because it’s not), I wanted to think about the notion more of ‘heroes’ more generally, as it’s got me questioning my entire attitude, re-examining it afresh.
I think if I’m honest, I probably am prone to having heroes**. I’m not sure that it’s a good idea per se, I hope I’m quite discerning and I don’t think I’m inclined to ‘hero worship’ really, but nevertheless I have to confess it is probably at least in that ballpark.
My heroes are probably all musicians. Maybe the odd footballer. The odd comedian.
But there is definitely a special place I reserve for those who I perceive as producing great work, and also seemingly doing it whilst being, well…….just great guys and gals.
And recently I think it’s fair to say that I’ve been thinking a lot about a situation where I couldn’t square a phenomenally successful hero of mine who appears so intelligent, humble, thoughtful and kind behaving in such a way that appeared so nakedly arrogant, self-serving, dismissive and dishonest. It didn’t compute. It clearly bugged me and I think writing this is helping me work out why that is.
I’ve stumbled down a few internet rabbit holes (both incredibly fun to do as well as a huge waste of time) and therefore upon some answers - and found that actually, beyond (far beyond in fact!) the hugely impressive global achievements, sanitised biographies, puff-piece documentaries of some heroes, there is often an absolute torrent of large scale deception, fantastical thinking and unhealthy mental gymnastics underpinning the lives of people (often, but not always, rockstars) who are successful on a huge scale.
Thinking and choices that long-term, simply can’t make anyone happy.
Not always, but often. Often enough for it to be noteworthy in my estimation. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone down a rabbit hole like this with a hero of mine :)
Maybe you know all this instinctively, and are wondering why on earth I’m stating such an obvious truism. Well, I just seem to need reminding of it constantly.
Irrespective, I don’t know if you feel like this sometimes, but I often find myself putting a lot of thought and research into some aspect of life (anything, really), trying to find the truth of it – and in the end, when the pieces all fall into place, they can be summed up in some crushingly boring cliché that you’ve heard 1000 times before. Which is simultaneously comforting, disappointing and slightly embarrassing***. that you didn’t just accept the cliché at face value (although, deep down you know life can’t work like that).
In this case, it is probably :- ‘Don’t meet your Heroes’****
Which I know probably is weighted slightly more towards the ‘don’t physically meet them they might be rude and in a rush’ end of the spectrum, but I’m reading ‘meet’ right now in a slightly wider ‘get to really know ALL about them’ type sense.
So anyway, I guess my quarter-assed advice, to myself more than anyone, is to choose (or research) your heroes (/unconscious guiding stars) very, very carefully indeed.
Because if you don’t do your homework, if you don’t know the full story, have the full picture, then I guess it is possible to be aligning yourself all wrong. You might be aiming for something very specific, that isn’t actually even possible to achieve in the way that you think it is, without making sacrifices that you aren’t even remotely prepared to make.
That’s a tad melodramatic, but you get my point, and even if the above is only true to a tiny extent, that’s still an utterly avoidable shame.
Or even better, just don’t have any ‘heroes’ at all, and just be yourself. God, what an idea!
Stu (Lux Lisbon).
*And I mean this - I've 'felt' let down. I haven't 'been' let down. It is my misplaced expectation, your heroes don't (usually) owe you anything.
** BTW - (‘hero’ is probably too strong but ‘unconscious mild guiding light’ feels a better fit, but it’s not as catchy, you get my point).
***(in that you’ve just wasted your time when someone else had already worked it out for you and it was staring you in the face, although there is definitely something in finding it out for yourself through visceral ‘hard won’ experience rather than just relying on the short hand of the cliché, no matter how much time it would save :))
**** and to be honest this doesn't even work for me, I've met a few heroes, for a few minutes each time and they've been perfectly lovely. I suspect the 'truth' of the phrase is a deeper one.