I was telling a coworker a story that happened a number years of ago when I was in college. I was living in Louisiana and a few players from the New Orleans Saints (a professional American football team) were making stops around the state to promote season ticket sale packages and sign autographs. Being in my early 20s, I bought a football and went with a friend to attend the event. I got my picture taken with both players and received autographs that I requested be made out to me. It was a wonderful experience. I still have that signed football and those pictures on display. After telling the story, I commented to the coworker that I would never ask a player for an autograph at the age I am at now unless it was an event specifically geared towards that.
I’ve felt that way awhile but I pondered why I did indeed feel that way. Like most little boys, I looked up to athletes and musicians and saw them as “heroes.” While I viewed them as “heroes” at that early age, I don’t now. The connotation of that word applies to my life differently today. Regardless, I still look up to them. Perhaps it is due to having a respect for their talent and an envy to have a similar ability.
It dawned on me that now being in my early to mid 30s, most of my “heroes” are now in their late 40s and 50s. We see their images captured in music videos, photographs, and archived footage that I suppose we have this unreal expectation that our “heroes” stay young forever. But, we age, just like everyone does. And the people we admired who were in their late 20s and early 30s, when we were children, also age in the same progression we do. I still feel the same way I do about these individuals, perhaps because they are older than me and as a component of residual feelings from being a child. In contrast, I have noticed that while I may certainly respect someone’s ability or talent, I don’t feel that way about people younger than me. I don’t view them as “heroes.” Perhaps it is part of the aging process. Perhaps it is a better understanding not to put people on a pedestal as maybe they aren’t necessarily a great person merely because they possess a talent. Maybe it is because our values change in life as we age and we have a better understanding of the real world.
Regardless, much like the feeling we got on Christmas Eve and our birthday as children, seeing our childhood heroes still elicits that aura and innocence we had as children, that once lost, can never be regained.