I’m sitting listening to a nostalgic collection of songs from the 1980s at The Fishes pub, North Hinksey here in Oxford. I was with a friend until a few moments ago. My friend is an extremely talented and sensitive photographer. I have a great deal of respect and affection for him. He took my photos and for the first time, I felt beautiful. That takes talent!
He has very high standards for himself and rarely if ever manages to attain them to his satisfaction. Throughout his life he has been dogged by self criticism and self doubt. At times he has been made very unhappy because of his low opinion of himself.
However he has just told me a story that has left him bewildered and delighted. Although he lives near Oxford, he was revisiting old childhood haunts in Yorkshire and met up with friends. That evening he went out with them to the local pub and made merry. After several pints and once he and his friends were now relaxed, they started to confide in each other. English people and especially Yorkshire folk often need some outside stimulus to open up, even to old friends. And drink is a useful stimulus!
Anyhow, one of his friends turned to my friend and said,” Do you know, when we were young, you were always my hero.”
This was news! That small piece of information has had huge impact. It never occurred to him and it has been taking a while to assimilate it.
To be someone else’s hero means that you have respect, admiration and recognition. Why do I say ‘recognition’? In my view, we are much bigger and have far, far more impact than we realise. Like my friend, we have a tendency to underplay ourselves. In that moment, he had been given a perspective that startled him. The look on his face showed how much it meant to him.
I have to smile. Someone I was talking to a few weeks ago called me an “archangel”. Ever since then, when my back starts to sag I remember the wings and angelic presence and sit straight!
So I wonder – if you were bigger, stronger, more powerful than you realised – a hero in fact – what would you do differently? And what would need to change for you to believe it?