I don't need a lot of things.
Yogurt? Don't need it. Coffee? Nope.
And if you were to ask, I suppose I would say I don't "need" to be, you know, stronger.
Now, I'm pretty thin. I'm not much help in times of manual labor but I'll do what I can. If I were alive 10,000 years ago my genes would have died with me.
I say I don't need to be stronger, but that's because I'm not living a life that requires me to be stronger. I go to meetings, I write a lot, I go to films, out to eat, I like to travel. Occasionally I like to embarrass myself by playing basketball with my boss. None of these things require a particular degree of strength.
Lifting cars doesn't particularly excite me. Being more helpful on moving day does, but not enough for a $1,000 annual membership to a gym.
I manage my life with the amount of strength that I already have.
After all, it's not like I'm a superhero or something.
In the class I teach at Pepperdine we spend some time talking about heroes.
Whenever the subject comes up it's always a little embarrassing for me. While I have many heroes (and not just my dad-- although he's at the top of the list) I've discovered that a lot of people, especially the older they get, don't have a lot of heroes.
I had one student say to me, "Why should I need a hero?"
And I suppose we don't. Just like I don't need to get stronger.
On the other hand, if I dream of a life that requires a stronger me, then that's who I'll need to become to create the life I want to live.
The same is true for heroes.
After all, what do heroes do? I mean, they inspire us. They give us a picture of ourselves that we could become.
And, unlike a membership to the gym, having heroes are free.
But those things are only valuable if we're desiring to grow. Heroes only appear to us when we have the humility to admit that others are farther down the road than we are. They help us create a better future.
Could that be why there are so few heroes for us today? Not because we don't need them, but because we haven't yet found the dreams for our lives that demand them?
For while we may have no need for heroes, the world most certainly does.
Posted on Tue, August 18, 2009