April 2007

All My Heroes...

I woke up a couple days ago just like any other day.


Waking up in the morning for me is a bit of a process. Iím not, by any stretch of the imagination, a morning person. Iím more the type that will get up because I have to, but will spend the next ten minutes after my first run in with a real morning person imaging horrible stories about their lives.

Like when youíre in the line up and thereís the super perky mom at the front talking waaaaay to loud for that early in the morning cause she just canít wait for the sale at the mallÖ


Sheís taking her kids Ritalin. All the rage these days. You could fire a two-foot length of rebar through her head and she wouldnít notice.

The Guy buying sixteen lottery tickets like today, after all these years, today is going to be the day?

Heís a closet alcoholic and his wife just left him. In a few days one of his 17 year old daughters is going to announce that sheís met a guy named ďTailpipeĒ and heís a biker and oh yeah they got married over the weekend but they would have totally invited mom and dad they just were in a rush cause sheís 6 months pregnant sheís just been wearing a lot of sweatshirts.

Otherwise they would have invited all the relatives.

So yeah, not a morning person.

One of the coping mechanisms that I have developed to get myself out of that headspace and into one somewhat more fit for interacting with the human race is I go over my own personal history with the world and make games of it. I have to drive an hour to get to my current place of employment so this provides more than sufficient decompression (or should I call it recompression?) time.

So anyways, on this particular day I was muddling through the concept of heroes. As in, who are mine and why?

Think thatís strange?

A few months ago, to work and back, an hour each day I practiced a South African Accent. Itís actually a lot harder to do than one might expect and Iíve never really been able to pull one off. All about two or three vowels though, you get those in line and youíre all good. I figure I spent the better part of 16 hours getting it down to the point where I could accept it as passable.

These are the games I play in the morning to keep me sane, donít judge me, they might just save your life.

Whoops, digression gods getting at my heels here.

So anyways, on this particular morning Iím thinking about my heroís.

In a somewhat thorough and reasonably detailed inventory of the heroes of my life, I rather prematurely came to the conclusion that all of my heroes are either dead or assholes. Which I think is a perfectly natural state of affairs, as heroes tend to be human, prone to failure and that breeds disappointment from the heroee.

New word. I just made it up. Look it up if you need to.

If you canít find it you just arenít looking in the right placesÖ

Like so much else.

But taking my life back from those digression godsÖ.

All of my heroes are either dead or assholes.

And I really like the dead ones better. They canít disappoint you with crappy decisions

The assholes are the ones who I used to admire and then for reasons that may or may not have been justified they up and kicked me in the teeth. The last type is the worst because on one hand you still admire whatever it was that brought them to your attention in the first place, but on the other hand you find them by and large completely unacceptable as human beings.

Bit of a catch 22 that one.

So I made a list of all my heroes assholes and dead and as I was pulling into the parking lot of my current employer and getting out of my car I had a thought.

ďWait I missed oneÖĒ

And as walked to the door, key in hand I was thinking to myself how there is in fact a third catagorey.

Between the dead ones and the assholes, I also accept as a close second the ones that you never get to meet. They can still disappoint, but not nearly as much as it isnít personal. And you never meet them so itís much harder for them to disappoint.

And I smiled because thinking about the person who was cause for the creation of the third category of my heroes often causes me to do that.

He had really great stories and compassion in his words that I havenít really ever seen or heard anywhere else. He hadnít written anything in a while but he always swore that whatever he wrote last would be his last effort.

And that was always true.

Right up until he wrote something else.

So I sorta carried this ongoing hope that the last one wasnít actually the last.

Well when a sat down at my desk I turned on the net and very quickly learned that his last book was indeed his last.

Which is a mixed bag for me really. It goes without saying that he was a huge influence on me in more ways than one. But I canít help but think to myself ďgood for youĒ. Heís done. Happens to everyone. Itís a win win for him really. His suffering (and by suffering I mean simply having to be in it) in this world is over and boy did he give a lot to the world.

Success either way.

So Hooray for him!

There has been a great deal of posturing on the web, people using his death to try and build their traffic, which is in my mind a damn shame.

There has also been a flurry of people quoting the most obvious lines from his books in an attempt to feel somehow closer to a man they never met.

I donít really feel any need to do that. Iím glad I never met him. The ideals that he professed are ones left unscathed by human frailty, despite he never made any attempt to disguise his own.

Bottom line for me?

Well I think that there are three actually.

The first one is that he helped me to think better, and that is a great gift to give to a person that you have never met, nor never will.

So Hooray for him!

Secondly, he certainly helped with my having the bravery to write and ramble. He wasnít the only one who inspired me to do that, but the other one is still alive and very much an asshole, so weíll give the majority of the credit to our departed friend. Maybe itís me but having a part in influencing an individuals choice is a pretty nifty thing.

Let alone he did that, Iím quite sure, for thousands, if not more.

So Hooray for him!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly from my singular perspective, he taught me that itís perfectly acceptable to get a little crazy and then get better. It happens to the best of us. In that regard he had a lot to do with me dealing with my crazy, and thatís very cool.

So Hooray for him!

He was up there with Mr. Bill Hicks for me, and I like to think that right now, for whatever ďup thereĒ actually is, they are both there.

So Hooray for them!

As always, You know where to find me - Nate@natepike.com