An evaluation of your early role models can help you better understand your current life. People often choose role models in their youth, and these selections are made with little conscious awareness as to how much you imitate them. These heroes could be a historic figure, teacher, family member, a sports star, actor, or anyone you admired.
The role model becomes your self-image. You go through life making small decisions as if they were not part of any master plan, as if all along you were responding to individual circumstances. The truth is there was a master plan. You set it in motion when you chose your heroes.
John Foster Dulles said when we pick great heroes, “we are, in reality and largely unconsciously, making a standard of conduct for ourselves. The next step is for us to make our own lives into the kind of effort which we think our chosen heroes would applaud.”
Think back to your teenage years. Who were your role models?
My predominate heroes were the men who fought at the Alamo (March 6, 1836), in particular Col. William Barret Travis. From fourth grade through high school, I read every book I could find on the Mexican/American war, Sam Houston and the settlement of Texas. To this day, I continue to read new volumes when released. As I got older, my heroes became rebellious authors, poets, and singer-songwriters—talented wordsmiths—including several Zen communicators and Buddha himself.
How have your role models related to your life? Have they worked for you?
My heroes were all willing to speak out and act in response to what they believed. They have certainly influenced the way I communicate. They got me into trouble with the establishment on many occassions. And they probably helped me fulfill my dharma. I hope so.
The next question to ask yourself: how might your awareness of your role models affect your future?
If you don’t like what you learn, consider picking new role models that might better serve you?
While conducting a seminar a few years ago, a female participant told me she would prefer not to know anything about karma. “Knowing that even my thoughts are creating karma is overwhelming,” she said and sighed.
“And the motive and intent and desire behind your thoughts,” I added.
“Even worse,” she said. “If I didn’t know these things, my life would be easier.”
The incident reminded me of the story of an Eskimo hunter who asked the local missionary priest, “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
“No,” said the priest. “Not if you did not know.”
“Then why,” asked the Eskimo, “did you tell me?” · · · ·
... which reminds me of another story in response to some recent emails. For those who need a “cosmic sign” to point the way, I love the following from Charlotte Joko Beck’s book, “Everyday Zen” (Harper & Row 1989):
To avoid the rising water during a flood, a man climbed up on the roof of his house to await rescue. Eventually a rowboat arrived and the rescue team shouted for him to climb into the boat.
“No, no. God will save me,” he said. “I’m praying.”
The water rose higher and higher until it covered the man’s legs. Another rowboat happened by and they tried to coax him into the boat. Again he said, “No, no. God will save me. I’m praying. I’m praying.”
When the water had risen to the man’s neck, a helicopter arrived and hovered above him. The rescuers shouted, “This is your last chance, grab the ladder.”
“No, God will save me,” said the man as his head slipped beneath the water and he drowned.
When the man got to heaven, he said to God, “Why didn’t you try to save me?”
God said, “I did. I sent you two rowboats and a helicopter.” · · · ·
And while we’re on the subject of heaven, let me share the story of a young man who crossed over into spirit and upon his arrival at the Pearly Gates, was welcomed by St. Peter. “You’ll like it here in heaven,” said St. Peter, “we play a lot of sports. Monday and Thursdays are tennis. Tuesdays and Fridays we play baseball.
“Well,” said the young man, “I’m really not into sports.”
“Then perhaps you’ll enjoy Wednesday nights where we have a big dinner and plenty of wine is passed around several times. Cigars. You’ll be able to let your hair down.”
“I really don’t like to drink or smoke,” said the young man.
“Oh well,” said St. Peter. “You’ll certainly enjoy Saturday nights. We have a dance and some beautiful women always attend. There is plenty of goings-on, if you know what I mean.”
“Actually, I don’t really enjoy the company of women,” said the young man.
St. Peter starred at the young man, then nodded. “Are you a homosexual by chance?”
“Oh no sir.”
“Pity, said St. Peter, “you won’t enjoy Sunday nights either!” · · · ·
Okay ... sorry. I’ll get serious again next time. I thought we could all do with a little laugh now!--peace and light, Dick Sutphen.