So. Amid news of plane crashes, companies in crisis, the threat of nuclear war, confusing messages from world leaders, disturbed people opening gunfire on innocents and driving cars into crowds…
Not to mention worries about the loss of mind and health, worries about the next generation developing “text neck” and the inability to look up and interact with actual humans, and super-serious concerns about the headline I saw this morning: NHL Player Warned to Stop Licking Opponents…
I don’t know about you, but I am in desperate need of some heroes, mentors who can show us how to live well in this ol’ world. Because I believe it can be done.
And my guess is, you know people who are actually doing or have done it–people who can inspire you to live with faith and integrity and joy.
God Himself knows we need these folks; maybe it’s time to let them give us some serious inspiration.
So let me invite you to think about a few people you admire–living or unliving, with or without a personal relationship to you.
Then you can form a sort of composite, throw a cape on your Super Hero, and get about the business of engaging in some action.
Because the people you admire are a clue to the life of adventure your heart is looking for.
For example, my personal list includes
- My Grandma Pinney. During certain seasons, she had a problem with wasps dive-bombing down her chimney and ending up in her living room. So she killed them by (I swear, I’m not making this up) cutting them in two–in midair–with a pair of scissors!
Yes, ma’am, give me some of that moxie.
- Susan E. Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations with God,who has been so brave about describing her relationship with the Almighty. At an especially difficult time in her life, she confessed, “I know God is love. He just doesn’t love me.” Because sometimes it just feels that way.
- And then there’s Mr. Rogers. Honestly, the crazier the world gets, the more I wish he still lived in it.
I’ll admit that back in the day, I made fun of this man. He was so quiet, so not-flashy, so…vanilla. That’s what it seemed like, anyway. But all that I’ve learned about Fred Rogers since then has changed my mind.
He was actually very progressive for his time, on children’s television, addressing difficult issues like divorce, death (even assassination), disability and racial equality.
In 1968, he hired Francois Clemmons to play the role of a police officer on his
show–the first African -American to have a recurring role on a kids’ TV series. One scene Clemmons remembers well: Mr. Rogers was soaking his feet in a pool on a hot summer day.
He invited me to come over and to rest my feet in the water with him, The icon Fred Rogers not only was showing my brown skin in the [pool] with his white skin as two friends, but as I was getting out of that [pool], he was helping me dry my feet.
That’s so right on so many levels.
And even though King Friday and Lady Elaine will always give me a slight case of the creeps (What’s with that nose? That chin? Yikes.), I still want to be Fred’s neighbor.
When the next tragedy occurs, I want to hear him say, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
When I’ve had a bad day, I want him to pat my head and say, “If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
And sometimes I just want to go to his house and feed his fish and learn about how crayons are made.
Thus, my hero might look like an all-accepting, sweater-wearing, truth-telling, Jesus-loving, unassuming rebel with enough guts to brandish a pair of scissors, look wasps in the eye(s) and say, “My name is Lucy Anna Pinney. You threaten to sting my people. Prepare to die.”
So who are your heroes–people you admire for some reason, any reason? They’re not perfect, and maybe you don’t even admire everything about them, but even one worthy trait is worth some examination.
Make a list of them. Then let them inspire your restless heart
–to be brave
–to be honest
–to be counter-cultural if necessary
–and most of all, to let each person you meet know that they’re special.
Because (in my mind, anyway) there’s no greater adventure than to practice saying “I like you just the way you are.”
And mean it.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? a documentary of Mr. Rogers’ life and legacy, releases on June 8. Check out the trailer here. It’s been described as “a balm of kindness and empathy in divisive times.” Sounds like just what we all need these days. I can’t wait.
And here’s a wonderful article from Esquire (Yes, Esquire!) that is so worth a read.
Want more where this came from? Check out the very first post (Your Epic Adventure Starts Here), where you’ll learn about starting a yearlong (52 questions) quest to practice living a life of adventure. As a bonus, you will also find the backstory for that ridiculous herd of buffalo on the header photo of this website…