When I was a kid I didn’t worship superheroes or cartoon characters. I idolized Leonardo da Vinci. I read everything I could get my hands on about him. Yes. I was a weirdo. I’ve had exactly five-ish superhero crushes in my life and they have been Leonardo (we are on a first name basis) age 9-17, Mary Wollstoncraft 18 – 24 (I was a women studies major until I switched to design because I liked the idea of eating), Suzuki Roshi 25 – 30ish, and Benjamin Franklin who is my current fave, but Ghandi is edging him out lately. It isn’t that I’m fickle – it’s that different times in my life have called upon different superheroes.
Let’s look at my loves and how they have endured even when new ones were added.
Leo (now we are really close) tantalized me. He was into everything and, it seemed, good at everything. His passions were all consuming and he did brave (risky/scary) things to find out answers. He is known for digging up corpses to study the body… dude. That is extreme. When I was young it was his curiosity that made my head swirl and his imagination.
What I get out of him NOW is much different. HE is who I focus on when I am overwhelmed by the things everyone else are doing and are so much better than I am. He is my check balance to FOMO and COMPARISON. Why? Because he did his own thing, kept his head down and was consumed by his own passions. THAT is power. That is energy. That is getting shit done. Sure, he might have popped his head up every now and then to see what that other guy was doing, but honestly he had so much of his own creativity to serve that I’m doubting he was checking Instagram on the daily (or whatever that was in his time). THAT is inspiration for ME to put my head into my own stuff and churn it out. Head down, Jacqueline.
Oh, Let’s Drop Some Mary Wisdom
Mary came along when I was a women study major and pissed off at the world – angry angry women – and she made it all make sense. She was the BASE of what the feminist movement is about and she was writing this in 1770 – look at that date again – 1770. She said that women were NOT inferior to men they just lacked education and access. She channeled my frustration at the system, at the MAN, and made sense of why I was angry that doors weren’t opened the same way for women as they are for men. Dude – we still make .77¢ for every $1 a man makes. Don’t tell me that is fair. It isn’t. Having that LONG history of women talking REAL talk about what is/was happening still makes me proud. We have a long way to go – still – but we have a great foundation of women to stand with who were/are saying/doing the right things to bring justice not just for women but all people.
After all that fire branding fury I needed a mentor to help me channel it lest I burn down the house I was building and along came Suzuki. He is the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center and he taught an unruly group of hippies how to meditate in his tradition. His wisdom on shutting up, sitting down, and being mindful is the basis of where my practice is today. The crazy part is that I never met him, I never went to the Zen Center when I lived there – I could have. I was just to afraid that my real desire was to run away and become a zen monk and I had a little at home and that wouldn’t have been a great thing. And so I read. I listened. I sat. I’m still sitting because that quiet moment is necessary for me to be kind.
Ben, oh, Ben
I dig you so much I named my dog after you. Your creativity, leadership, and time management make me happy happy happy. You were the FIRST at so many things and when I think founding fathers – dude – it is YOU I want to have dinner with… if you can fit it into your schedule. You remind me that we have way more time and energy than we think and that we ALL can start things. It just takes one person with an idea. Side note – I think we need to apologize to Ben about the Turkey. He totally wanted that to be our national bird and he was edged out. I’m not sure who did that, but Ben deserves the Turkey. Granted… the $100 isn’t too shabby.
Heroes are funny things. We latch onto them when we need what they are dishing out. I’m grateful to my parents who would, on a weekly basis, dump me out at the Anaheim Public Library unsupervised while they went off and ran errands. It was there I got to explore whomever I wanted to without any censorship. It wasn’t a TV personality, cartoon or movie that piqued my interest it was good old Leo who made me see that there are infinite possibilities if we are just curious enough to explore them. Who are yours?