The quicksand of hero worship

What a week it has been!  If I didn’t ride this morning I was afraid I’d go postal.   I’m too smart to truly worship people.  Look at all of the Sports greats of the last decade – they have all (OK there are a few exceptions) fallen from grace: Tiger, Lance, Jordan, Favre, it’s a long list.  I learned long ago that these are just human beings with superhuman physical abilities.  I respect their accomplishments, but my dog is a better role model.  He can do things that I certainly can’t do, but he’d also crap on the floor if I didn’t take him outside.  I respect his physical abilities (like being able to bite my head off), but I certainly don’t put him up on a pedestal.

This week, someone I really respect and admire let me down in a big way.  It really disappointed and upset me, and I spent way too much time thinking about it.  In the end, I realized that I was the one who set myself up for it.  Granted, what the person did was wrong, but the reason it affected me so deeply was because I had given the person a spot just a little higher in life than I should have.  Not hero-worship, but more respect and admiration than they deserved.

This friend has NEVER let me down:

She asks nothing of me, but delivers everything I ask of her and much more.  Plus, she doesn’t crap on the floor if I don’t take her outside.  This morning’s ride (with the Executive Director of the Bike Fed of WI and various Spokesmen –  old and new)  started out as a ball of stress, but by the time I was done all I was thinking about was riding.  My head was clear, my body felt cleansed, and I was ready to deal with wrapping up this week of drama and move on.

I feel sorry for all of those armchair quarterbacks out there.  The ones who put so much stock in their heroes, and take their indiscretions so personally.  Those people are really lacking something that I cherish – a passion for doing something they love.  They try to live vicariously through their sports heroes – or worse, through their children.  These are the parents that never miss sitting on the bleachers night after night screaming through their 8 year-old’s soccer games.  If I lived like that, I’d be 300 pounds, bald and die of a stress-induced heart attack in 5 years.

The point of all of this rambling is this: be your own hero, but don’t buy into your own bullshit.  Last year I never placed in a race.  This year I’ve been on the podium in both of the WORS races I’ve done so far.  It would be easy to believe the hype and look at myself as somehow different from the guy who wasn’t up there last year, but I’m not.  There are still thousands of guys (and lots of women) who could crush me.  That’s the way I like it.  I’ll never be a hero to anyone, but I’ll never put any other person above me in the grand scheme of things.

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