This Creative Life

Welcome to the creative work of Alan White, head writer and producer of "FEEDBACK; A HERO'S CALLING," now at Broken Sea. The "Feedback" in question is Matthew Atherton, My Hero. He and other heroes of mine have links found down the left side of these pages. Enjoy!

Monday, September 04, 2006

My Heroes

I'm going to post this in order of their appearances in my life, as opposed to their rank of heroism. For those without 'public' identities, I will not link to them. The descriptions, I hope, will describe then enough.

I have said much about him, here and here. There you will find how I currently discovered I needed a hero, and how Matthew Atherton so ably fills the role.

Alex Wilson
Discovered him at FanBoyRadio boards as a fellow poster and followed his signature link to the content of his life. He is my hero because he demonstrates the ambition and consistancy that I've always wished I had. I admire him for his many, many accomplishments and as always, the courage to commit to a woman and marry her--all before the age of thirty.

The Grim Jester
He's my hero because of his flaws. He's the knuckle-dragger inside of myself. Then he has the nerve to be very smart, very funny, very secure, and very masculine. He is like me; raised by a single mother, only he has the memory of a father whom he does not speak much about (but I get the impression that he liked) who died an unspecified number of years ago. As with all us mother-as-parent boys, it was his job to find out how to grow up and become a man. Despite the times I want to crack his hairless skull for going too far, he's made himself into a man's man. Yet he also has learned how to be compassionate and sacrificing. When I was in trouble and getting evicted, he came to my rescue. I test my theories of "what friendship is" on him, and I've always believed the answers he's given me.

The Young Prodigy

This young feller left a job that paid probably six times the yearly salary of any job I've ever had and took a yearlong yacht race to build character. Gamble number one. When he returned, he did not return to his vocation because he knew it was not what he wanted. After months of wondering if he'd lost his mind, he applied to his dream job and got it. Gamble number two. He's my hero because his gambles paid off.

My Midwestern Friend

When I met him, he was engaged. He was a firebrand for religion. He was a maverick. He also was a loyal friend who had open ears in a culture that taught willful ignorance. As I discovered that the culture was not going to nurse and sustain the wounded creature that I was, this friend has. Then he married his love, but lost her to her own devices. This was something he had known she was interested in when he got engaged to her. He took the chance because he loved her. He committed to her because he loved her. The decision had nearly destroyed him. Like me, he's been rebuilding his life for the past 10 years now. Sometimes he disappeared and it was hard for me to know what to do about it. But he'd resurface with a new accomplishment, and new plateau, always getting better, always getting higher. He is my hero because he first loved me. When I needed him, he was my friend. When he needed me, I was moved to learn how to return the loyalty. I am a better person in this world for knowing him.

The Big Red Cheese
When I first met this man he was a leader at my college and I made fun of him. His back was straight, his shoulders wide, his voice thunderous. He reminded me of a larger than life person, like Captain Marvel. He was too good to be true, and dedicated to his cause like no one I had ever known. He reached out to me, why I still don't know--but I suspect it was because he knew I was alone and out of place. Like my Midwestern Friend, he responded to my need without the slightest provocation. When he did that, he let me into his life and let me answer my own questions about what I thought I saw. I saw that he actually WAS as good as he seemed. He was a good father and a good husband. He was a good leader and a good Christian. He was conscientious, intelligent, and open-minded even though he knew no one thought he was, because the driving force of his life was dedication to his God. And all that still is in effect today. In a world of uncertainty, this man has been a rock of unchanging character. If things had not changed for the both of us, I would still be in his shadow today, trying to be what he was.

My Friend The Doctor
Met him when he was an utter teenager. Today he is a doctor. I've known him for a few years less than my Childhood Buds but I've been in his company almost all the way through the years. We went to church together, to college together, to graduate school together. Then I left him and behind when he went on to get his doctorate. I left him and he remained strong and independent and brought his midwestern wife north to forge ahead until he finished his internship. When we first went out there, I thought I was leading him. When my illusions began to shatter, I followed him. He led me out of failure. He guided me into the Master's degree and the ability to have a career when I returned to the northeast. And even when that didn't work, he was always there for me. I learned what a man was at the top end view from the Big Red Cheese. I learned how a boy becomes a man from My Friend The Doctor.

Childhood Bud
I reconnect with him every few months or so, last time was at his nieces' graduation party. When we were growing up, he lost his father, a man I clearly remember. He, in fact, is a Junior. He survived. He got accepted to Brown University. With him I saw how college life could be. I watched him dance on the roof with a roommate in Providence RI to "Pop Life" by Prince and I thought--'this is how cool I want to be'. He took me on a midnight bike ride through the precolonial streets. Visiting him was the first time I ever had handmade ice cream with 'mix-ins'. He has also survived the break-up of a marriage to a girl he clearly adored, and found another love whom he clearly adores more. He now has twin children and is a very saavy grown-up who will not comb his hair for love nor money. He once owned a brownstone in Brooklyn and now owns a converted bed and breakfast two hours north of NYC. Like a hero, he doesn't know how cool he actually is.

Childhood Bud II
This is Childhood Bud's big sister. When we were all entering college life, she became pregnant. The father of her child wasn't a keeper. They married and made another child, but ... Twenty plus years later, she is a successful businesswoman. She held a party for the graduation of those two daughters of hers, one graduating COLLEGE and one graduating a private high school for the arts. The girls are healthy, talented (classically so), intelligent as all get out, and beautiful. Financially, she was helped by her family. Emotionally, she raised them on her own. Like a hero, she doesn't feel her success. She doesn't want to be defined by being a mother, but I think there is no real choice in that matter. Children re-define us. She could have easily become one of the millions of single-mothers whose lives and the lives of their children end up in an endless loop of poverty and dysfunction. Just the opposite with this woman. She's been amazing me for the last decade and I think she's about to amaze herself now that she's facing an empty nest. Wait until she discover what an awesome job she did!

Jesus Christ
I think you've all heard of Him. My faith in Him has gone through quite an odyssey. Today I still believe. I believe He is the reason why we as humans have any such notion as "heroism". I believe His Spirit empowers the heart of anyone who can recognize something greater than themselves and aspire to be like it.

I've weighed in all out, the bad and good, and I'm applying the lessons I've learned last month. This has led me to realize that my mother was a hero. She had to leave a marriage and her child behind in order to survive. Shortly thereafter, she returned and took her child with her. She stood across Broadway holding her son's hand, waiting for the m5, while her husband stood across the avenue watching her go. That could not have been easy, but she did it anyway. Then for the rest of her too-short life, she worked to help the child of hers become a man. She provided everything she could for him. She bought him a car to travel around at college when she was making only 18K a year. She may have been aware of her own failings but she had nothing else to give, so she did what she could. Yoda said, "Do or do not. There is no try." My mother did. She also had a heart to help people who couldn't help themselves. One of the biggest sources of pain for me, a selfish only-child, was when she adopted a troubled child and brought him into our home. She did it because she cared. That caring somehow became an example for me. I work in mental health today and love my work because I saw the best of my mother when she was caring for others.
Gosh. I didn't realize that until I just typed it. Nice.


I've done what I could. I've lost 19 lbs. I've paid off one creditor. I have a savings account. I have goals and dreams ... still. By the standards that I've set out, I realize that I'm allowed to say "Alan White--you're an okay guy. I admire you for your courage in the face of all you've been through and still be able to believe that you're an okay guy. I can tell that you're determined to make it out of your present circumstances and I couldn't wish you more love and blessings than I do right now. May God bless you and reedeem your life into what you and He wants it to be."


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