Growing up, I often hated the fact that I didn’t have any heroes. You know, people you don’t necessarily know personally but who you admire so deeply and passionately that just thoughts of them leave you in a humbled awe. It isn’t love, exactly. It isn’t respect, either. It’s a profound sense of admiration, a wish that your brain (or soul) could learn from their own, and maybe one day even reach whatever level they were on.
The romantic human mind is built to crave heroes, especially when it’s young. I couldn’t relate to the heroes of those around me though, whether these heroes were movie stars, religious figures, family members, statesmen, teachers, etc. But Roba had no heroes.
When I started my Fine Arts degree at 18, I got introduced to the peculiar brains of artists. I fell in love with Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Picasso, and other such wonderful people. Andy became one of my best friends. At first, I thought they could become my heroes, but as the years passed, I realized that these wonderful artists could never play that part in my life. They are awesome, they are inspiring, and they are entertaining, but they don’t make me want to aspire to become them.
Then one day, with a brain much more equipped to understand science fiction, I decided to re-read Arthur C. Clarke’s “Space Odyssey”, a book I had first read when I was 12. That started me off on a journey of reading all the hard science fiction classics.
Here I am today, finally aware of my heroes at the almost-too-late-for-my-own-good age of 28. If I knew who my heroes were when I was 15, I would have become an astronaut, an astrophysicist, or a roboticist. If I knew my heroes were Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking, I would have spent the rest of my life disconnected from the absurdity of this world and all it cares about, trying to discover how to get away from the stupidity of humanity and out into outer space.
Fortunately, my career still sees me disconnect into the absurdity of this world and all it cares about, as I sink ever day into the wonders of the World Wide Web. I love the Internet just as equally, if not more than I love space and science. But there are no heroes yet for the Internet, at least not for us of the first generation.
Help your children find their heroes.