Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mini Heroes that Change Your Life

It's after midnight here and technically it's no longer Friday, but after a long day of distracting minutia, I finally got to the meme topic for Sprite's Keeper Spin Cycle.  I have avoided memes in the past because truthfully, I didn't know what the word meant.  But thanks to Jen, I think I understand.

Beloved has taken to drawing famous characters or persons on backpacks, mailbags, and clothing.  He asked me to name a few characters in pop culture or history that I would want on a mailbag, people I admired or are my mini heroes. And without hesitation, three names came to mind. Bugs Bunny, Walter Cronkite, and Sgt. Hans Schultz.  Yes, yes, I know.  His left eyebrow went up too.

Anyways, here is my spin.

Name the people or characters that you grew up on that have changed your perspective on life.  They can't be anyone you have met before because that would be too easy.  As a kid growing up what had an influence on the way you look at the world today. Who made you sit up and take notice? Who became mini heros in your mind.

1.  Bugs Bunny.  - I learned a lot from Bugs Bunny.  He taught me the nuances of language.  He was  inquisitive, charming, honest and always in control of every situation.  I learned that you don't always have to be nice, that it was okay to be a "stinker." He used cunning and wit to outsmart his opponents.  It was okay to be sarcastic, irreverent, and even nasty at times.  When he looked at his audience and said, "Of course, you know (realize), this means war!" It meant I could stand up for myself.  I loved it when he said, "Whatta maroon! Whatta a ignoranious!" or "What a gulli-bull! What a nin-cow-poop."

2. Walter Cronkite - I sigh just saying his name.  I watched this man every night with my parents and fell in love with him. I remember wishing he was my uncle.  That voice was so soothing, his manner so forthright.  When he talked I listened. I believed. I knew I was getting it straight.  He exuded honesty, fairness, and integrity. He was a role-model of what I thought a mature adult should aspire to be. Years later I heard him described as the "most trusted man in America."  Too bad those days are long gone.

3. Sergeant Hans Schultz - As a kid, I loved this character on Hogan's Heros. He was so cuddly and cute. Schultz was definitely a lover not a fighter. In one episode it's learned that he is really a pacifist and owned a toy factory before the war.  I loved him even more.  What did I learn from Schultz?  That calling a person your enemy is not as cut and dry as one might think. That both sides in a conflict has its share of unwilling participants. It was hard to think of him as an enemy soldier or even a traitor to his own country. It was more that he wasn't a traitor to himself.

4. Carl Sagan - He taught me about the Cosmos.  I can still hear his voice and his unique way of phrasing a sentence.  He gave me an appreciation for everything stellar. He gave me a new way to think, beyond myself and my own little world.  One of his quotes stays with me today, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

5. Mother Teresa - I watched a documentary following Mother Teresa in Calcutta.  It was very hard to watch and I cried and cried from beginning to end.  The depth of her compassion defined for me what it is to have real strength, super human strength.  The depth of the poverty and suffering I witnessed in this film showed me a level of pain and suffering far beyond my imagination.  The depth of their need to be held and loved and to watch Mother Teresa compassionately cradling, stroking and loving the ill and the dying was too much for my soul to take.

I learned that I can never again complain about my life or my hardships again. They are infinitesimal, an affront to those that are truly suffering.  I learned that I truly lack nothing in this world. We in America are truly rich, even when we are poor. I understand that nothing I can experience can compare to what others around the world must endure.  Kiss the ground you walk on people!

6. Our Town - When I was a young girl, I watched a production of the play, Our Town, written by Thornton Wilder. One particular scene had a profound effect on me. The character Emily Webb, after dying in childbirth joins a group of dead souls in the local cemetery.  She discovers that she can revisit and witness any time in her past life. She chooses to go back to visit her family.  She's back in her mother's kitchen, watching her mother cook breakfast, her father at the table. She realizes that everything is so beautiful and she revels in every detail down to the wallpaper.  She tries to get her family to realize that every moment is precious, to realize and experience the joy of being together. But they cannot  hear her. For them it is just a routine morning and they are blind to the beauty of the moment. Emily's lesson is that human life is precious because it is fleeting.  It becomes too painful for her to remain among the living and she returns to the cemetery.

So I have learned to be in the moment as often as I can, especially when I am with the people I love.  When I visit my parents and sit in their kitchen having coffee, I look around. I experience the moment. I absorb every detail. I listen to the timber and vibration of their voices. I smell the coffee in the air. I feel the breeze from the window on my face. I look at my dad as he does his crossword puzzle, and how my mom's hair frames her face.  The beauty of the moment fills my soul.

7. Benjamin Franklin - How about this guy! What do I admire about this great historical figure? Let me count the ways.  Well I guess I won't because the roll call of his accomplishments already fills volumes and volumes. A scientist, inventor, printer, philosopher, economist, musician, statesman, and don't forget  a Founding Father. Huzzah! Founding Father in the house.  But under each of those categories or careers listed above you will find a list of accomplishments that boggles the mind.  When did he find the time to do so much? What energy! What stamina! Oh yes, let's add to the list, Lady's Man. If he were around today, I would be a groupie.

What did I learn from Benjamin Franklin? I learned to never be fearful of changing your career. Your job does not dictate who you are. If you are not happy with your career, change it. Never feel stuck. Change it a dozen times or be like Ben and do them all simultaneously.

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." ~ B. Franklin


Middle Aged Woman said...

You, my dear, write things worth reading. Always.

Jim Styro said...

I can only agree with the MAW.

I especially liked your thoughts on Cronkite and Our Town. Those would be two of my mini heroes as well.

Sprite's Keeper said...

Ack! Sorry I'm late! I couldn't get onto the computer all weekend! Whenever I think of Our Town, I think of Robbie Benson in the video they made us watch in school. Dang, he was hot back then. You're linked!

Middle Aged Woman said...

Robbie Benson always lives for me as Beast! And I just realized, I have a messenger bag I could ask Beloved to decorate!

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