We tend to ask people “Who are your heroes?” And then, in our anthropocentric thinking we expect an answer in the form of some particular human being.
I suggest a more universe-centric approach.
Of all the animals, vegetables, and minerals in the universe which are your heroes?
From nebulae, to comets, to oceans, to flowers, to bees, and on down to paramecium and bacteria and even small but astoundingly powerful strange quarks, and everything in between and beyond, you have an almost infinite array of beings from which to choose to as role models.
I suppose that my own most common heroes I’ve had in life can be seen in some of the Halloween costumes I’ve chosen. I’ve been some kind of plant three times – two of them involved my body being wrapped in vines – so clearly I have a huge amount of respect for the vegetable kingdom, and hope to be more wild, green, and focused on growing up to produce beautiful and valuable flowers, seeds, and that sense of peaceful resolve that plants have. My other plant-based costume was a bold yellow flower which I wore when I first worked as a preschool teacher a decade and a half ago, and it was probably an unconscious copy of the flower I used on a poster for the school that reminded people that children are like flowers and when you nurture them well, they will grow up to be healthy and beautiful.
Which leads me to my second most common hero I’ve had, which was the basis for at least two other costumes. Children. Children are the masters of learning about and loving the world. Human children, especially, delight in asking questions and have almost boundless energy to create new and interesting things for themselves and others. Who wouldn’t want to be more like that?
My young twin friends who are just turning five today have chosen a leopard and a tiger as their role models, and seem to especially revere the characteristic of these creatures that allows them to eat anything they want, and their role play often involves catching other willing victims like me and putting them in the oven to be made into dinner for them. Though my guess is that some sense of wildness and strength is really more of the general appeal that large cats have.
And my husband has a thing for trees. Perhaps it’s because they are the largest living things on the planet, and reach up higher into the sky than any other creature while also staying well grounded. And maybe it has something to do with how strong they are, and how, even in the face of great winds that try to push and pull them elsewhere, they boldly, yet peacefully, stand up for themselves.
Sort of in the same way that I love rocks! Aren’t some rocks just totally awesome? :-)
So how about you? What animals, vegetables, and minerals are you most reverent of? And what qualities of them are most important to your own life?