I think my first hero was Mickey Mantle. Then I learned there were problems with alcohol.
Then it was Pete Rose……
Then it was groups; reporters, yippies, writers, comedians, teachers, US bicycle racers, film directors.
It seems the anointing of a hero leads quickly to the toppling of a hero.
Especially this month.
I’m not sure I can live in a world without heroes.
What to do?
Yesterday I attended an event that suggested a couple of places to look for heroes today.
I was flattered to be invited to be in the audience for the Senior Recital of a young singer I met when I did a small role in last year’s University of Kentucky Opera Theatre’s production of RAGTIME. The singer is a fierce, intelligent man of strong opinion and strong voice. I suspect his strong opinions will occasionally get in his way as he journeys through life. I also suspect his intelligence and strong voice will cause people to listen carefully to his strong opinions and we may all made better for it…including him.
That would be OK, wouldn’t it?
He sang a song cycle by a Spanish composer I did not know; Xavier Montsalvatge. The song; “Punto de Habanera” is racy and probably presents a point-of-view that’s far too masculine for this week’s news cycle. “Canción de Cuna Para Dormir a un Negrito” is a beautiful lullaby with the politically-incorrect sentiment; “Close your eyes, frightened little black boy; the white boogey-man is going to come and eat you.” The songs were sung with passion and control…AND passion and a determination to make things better. That might be heroic enough to withstand today’s 24/7/365 media eye.
He also sang of Don Quixote.
It was Ravel’s song cycle; “Don Quichotte à Dulcinée.”
Quixote is a personal hero of mine. He fights dragons that are actually windmills…and loses. He physically defends the honor of maidens that can ill afford physical honor. He sees glory and beauty in the mundane.
Ravel’s Quixote swears to Dulcinea that at her request he will;
- Stop the Earth from turning.
- Remove the stars from the sky.
- Put the stars back in their place.
He will of course fail on all counts……but he will try……for her.
He prays in delight to St. Michael and St. George for assistance in these efforts…for her.
He is, by 2017, a thoroughly vetted hero. I will be very surprised if emails, dossiers, or accusers emerge to shine new, righteous light on his failings. His failings are well-known and they are admired by me.
Perhaps this is where we must look for our heroes today;
- In the past.
- In the arts.
- In our fierce youth, beginning their journeys.
I’m OK with that.