Learning From Our Heroes

It all started with my older brother. As children, we were inseparable. Whatever he wanted to be for Halloween, I wanted to be as well. If he was Zorro, I was Zorro. If he was a Power Ranger, then, of course, so was I. That was until we discovered Star Wars.

At first, I was not that interested in what I thought came down to a bunch of intergalactic space fights. However, under my brother’s tutelage, I too began to think of myself as a Jedi apprentice—fascinated by light sabers and the power of the force. We did not play with Jedi costumes and light sabers … we trained.

A few years later, when I turned six and entered first grade, Harry Potter taught me how to read. Since my mom was working and didn’t have much free time that year, I armed myself with an audio book and a paperback, and deciphered the first book. That year, I managed to make my hair look like Hermione’s without much effort, and when the doctor told me I needed glasses, I felt extremely fortunate. I thought that it would not take long after that, obviously, for me to get my Hogwarts letter, and I started looking for owls in the daylight.

Not long after, my brothers and I stumbled upon the Lord of the Rings. We were hooked, and of course started figuring out how to acquire horses and bows so that we could pretend to be Legolas and Aragorn. Unfortunately, our venture was not successful, and we took up the roles of Frodo and Sam—both of whom were more in line with our heights and fighting abilities (or lack thereof).  

I may not have seen much in common between the marvelous characters that I sought to imitate in those days, or the worlds that I wanted to inhabit. Thinking about it years later, however, all of my “chosen ones” had an integral character: they were hardworking, adventurous, strong, brave, and passionate. All were generous and sacrificed themselves in the service of others. They knew how to be good friends, and above all, they had a quality that could be described as “openness”— a way of accepting people and life circumstances without hesitation.

Obi Wan was never disdainful with Jar Jar Binks, even when the latter lacked a position of power. All of the Jedi respected Yoda and managed to see his strength and wholeness, even if he was physically very different from them. Legolas never made fun of Sam for being much shorter or for being scared in the face of orcs, and even though Aragorn was king, he recognized the value of Frodo. Tolkien tells us that even Gollum had a purpose, and that he too could teach us something.

It has been many years since I stopped playing in costumes and dreaming of living in other worlds. I understand that superheroes don’t exist, and that people aren’t just good or evil. Yet, whenever I remember these characters, I remember the way they all saw each other’s essence, each other’s worth. I remember their qualities and virtues.

Here at Boston College, I’ve met many people who remind me of these characters. I’ve met people like Yoda, who can be extremely quiet and will suddenly surprise me with the wisest advice I’ve ever heard. I’ve met people like Hermione, who will study much harder than anyone else and still have time to support me on all my adventures. I’ve met people like Merry and Pippin, who joke around about everything and always make my day a little brighter. And I’ve met people like Frodo and Harry, who are willing to fight for what is right, instead of what is easy.

No one is perfect, but there are many people at BC doing their best. We all have different qualities that we bring to the table, and I think it’s important to celebrate our humanity, our positivity, and our combined strength.

Maybe some days will be a struggle. Maybe some days we’ll fight with our friends or our teachers. Maybe some days we’ll fight with ourselves, as we contemplate the amount of homework we have and question why we’re once again getting dressed in all black to go to Agoros on a Thursday night.

Yes, some days might be hard. But regardless of how hard situations might be, I want to be a little more like those characters I used to dress up as during Halloween. I want to use my time at BC to try to take stock of the people around me, and look at them with an open mind. I don’t want to look down and miss the people who are literally, and maybe even metaphorically, crossing my path. Because in the past year, if I’ve learned anything from the brave people around me, it is that I do not want to miss a single moment to laugh, to enjoy, or to speak out. And if I learned anything from all those characters I used to adore, it is that I want to leave room for everything but regret.  

Featured Image by Meg Dolan / Heights Editor