Our heroes today are celebrities. Those are who emulate. Our heroes are athletes, singers and socialites. They are who we want to be. They are who we emulate, who we model our lives after.
Having had a taste of the celebrity life, I can see the appeal. I never waited in line or paid a cover charge while I was on the publicity tour for Get Low. I never even paid. It was all taken care of. Several times I got bags of free stuff. I got my picture taken, I was in interviews, I was on television and online. People lined up to see my movie, and though they weren’t there to see me, they were there partly because of me. It was a heady feeling.
I will forever remember the day after Get Low premiered. I had lived out a dream the night before. The crowd had given us a standing ovation. Ten years of working and waiting had paid off in magnificent fashion. I had put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that movie. It was a tremendous accomplishment and a life changing moment. But when I woke up the next day, I immediately knew that I hadn’t changed. I was the same jerk I had been when I had woken up the day before. Celebrity changes your surroundings, but it doesn’t change you. If you’re a jerk before you’re famous, you’ll be one after. If you were a saint before, you’ll be a saint after.
When I think of what a hero should be, it seems like they should inspire me to be better. Inspire us all to be better. Celebrities don’t do that. All they inspire us to do is to look prettier and have nicer stuff. It’s all superficial. A hero should be more than that.
Like my sister.
Fifteen years ago my sister weighed over three hundred pounds. Last weekend she won her age group in a 5k race. In between she lost the weight of an entire person. How? She trained her butt off. I mean that literally. She trained so hard over the years that her butt is actually gone, at least compared to what it used to be. And she’s one of the main reasons I started running. If she could get out and work like that, then my skinny butt could too. I did, thanks in large part to her.
My sister won’t be on the news. Neither will our friend who is battling a brain tumor, or another who is battling breast cancer. I’d wager their struggles are far greater than most of the celebrities we worship, but they won’t get the publicity. They should, because they’re real heroes.
It’s OK. You don’t need them to be in the news to find them.
I am certain that if you look around, you will find people like them in your life already. People who have overcome tremendous adversity are all around us. They don’t all become super famous, but that does not diminish their accomplishment. To me, their lack of fame makes them more admirable, and more inspiring.
So forget the celebrities. Stop looking on for your heroes on TMZ and ESPN. Instead, look in your phone contacts. Look through your Facebook friends. Real heroes all around you, and you will get farther emulating them than any celebrity.