By Nick Evangelista
I have no heroes.
It would be easy to say something like, “Oh, Mother Teresa was an inspiration to me!” or “I have based my life on the teachings of Woodrow Wilson.” But defining your life by some other person is the easy way out. I admire people, but I don’t put them on pedestals. I appreciate individuality and creativity and the heroic endeavor. But I wouldn’t want to be anyone but myself.
I have always felt that we should be our own heroes, to follow our own unique paths, and really live our own lives, to say, I did that! We can’t be other people, and we can’t live our lives through others. Too many people try to do that today. We get caught up in the Cult of Celebrity, famous people we both love and resent at the same time. I can’t imagine following the daily in’s and out’s of any well-known person, who's cheating on whom, who's getting a new tattoo. I have known a couple famous people in my life, and, for the most part, they were just people.
Much better to experience and explore our own lives fully. This can be scary, of course. Life leaves bruises. We make mistakes. We leave skid marks on the pavement. But we get up, and move ahead. The Ancient Romans had a saying, Magnae res non fiunt sine periculo, “Great things are not accomplished without danger.” This is a challenge to come out swinging. A life brimming with passion and experience is the truest testament to being alive.
I have found fencing to be my life’s passion, and everything in my life, good and bad, has come out of this. There is nothing we can do that doesn’t have its built-in pitfalls. But to do, to test ourselves, to learn, to become more than we were when we came into the world, that is something.
Learn a skill.
Save a life.
Write a book that changes the world.
Love someone who will stay in your heart forever.
In the end, our life’s experiences are the only things we truly possess. Everything else is just stuff. Stuff comes and goes. Museums are full of other people’s stuff.
Do not go quietly into the night. Be your own hero.