Early in life all of us have had heroes; people, living and past, real or larger than life characters from novels or comic books. They inspired us. They provided us with role models of courage, compassion, resourcefulness, grit. Their actions and antics encouraged us to be better, stronger, kinder, richer; to strive to improve our lives and those around us.
My early heroes came from western novels where against massive odds the lone lawman saved the town. They also came from the Hardy Boys series of books where brothers Frank and Joe solved mysteries (could that be why I now write thriller novels?). A few humanitarians like Dr. Albert Schweitzer made it into my pantheon, as well as Odysseus from the Greek classics.
Where would you be today without your early heroes?
But it’s not just kids who have heroes. Sometimes, kids can be the hero.
I’m proud to say that my daughter is my hero. She inspires me to continue to chase my dreams, to continue “tilting at windmills” and facing rejection and sometimes ridicule. To keep trying to “Make a Difference” when my knees hurt and my energy level begins to fade.
My daughter is just fourteen years old, but mature and wise beyond her years. She has a natural wit that I find hilarious. She cracks me up. But what I admire most is her grit and determination to fulfill her dream. She wants to be a professional musician and violin soloist, but that is only a stepping stone to her real goal, to become the youngest woman conductor to lead the last night gala of The BBC Proms.
The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Founded in 1895, each season currently consists of more than 70 concerts in the Albert Hall. Over the years The Proms has showcased the talents of the late Luciano Pavaroti and Leonard Bernstein as well as up and coming talent like the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
For those of you who have never been to London or seen the last night of The Proms on TV, an analogy would be conducting the Fourth of July concert at the Boston Pops. The Last Night of the Proms is probably the most famous musical event in the world, watched and listened to by an audience of many millions. It definitely lives up to its reputation of a fun “Last Night party” celebrating British tradition. So far, only one woman has ever conducted this haloed event in its entire 117 year history, and that was the American conductor Marion Alsop in 2013. My daughter wants to be the youngest woman to stand on that podium and share music with the world.
Not only do I admire her for her dream, but it’s also a dream that most young people are told can’t happen until you are older, “much older” according to most of the male and female conductors she has spoken with. After all, young people don’t have the experience and maturity of musical understanding that is required. It takes years to develop.
Sounds to me like the argument older CEOs used to give young people about getting to the top in business. “Work hard, learn at the feet of the ‘masters’, and you just might make it to the top job some day“. I guess someone forgot to tell Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page how it is supposed to be! Running multi-billion dollar business and social empires is no longer just for the elderly and experienced. Conducting and classical music is about to experience its own revolution!
She is also my hero for her work ethic, getting up several hours before school to practice, then coming home, doing homework and again practicing. These are habits that make champions. A young Michael Jordan shooting baskets in the dark long after bed time. Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and ages!
It’s nice, at my age, to still have heroes to believe in.
John R Childress
See the review of LEVERAGE in The Economist (January 9, 2014.
John also writes thriller novels: novels.johnrchildress.com