My heroes keep dying.
I’ve lost two this year. Terry Pratchett. Oliver Sacks. A few years ago I lost Steve Jobs. We all did. The year before, we all lost Tony Judt, even if we didn’t all know who he was. That’s the thing about heroes, they take a little light out of the world with them when they go.
What is a hero? I don’t have a monopoly on definitions, but by my reckoning a hero is someone who makes us feel better about the world just for the knowledge that they are in it. It’s comforting to think that somewhere out there, someone has a good reply to the chaotic and meandering struggle that is human existence, and they are living it good and hard with everything they’ve got.
Perhaps it’s comforting in part because if someone else clearly has it figured out, there’s less pressure on us. So when a hero is ripped from the world, what remains? Little comfort. Less light. More pressure.
It’s a sobering thought that the great lights of the older generation keep going out. I suppose it’s like moving up to ticking a new age box on a form. We keep moving through them until eventually there’s no boxes left between us and the end of the page and the realisation that oh fuck, we’re it.
Am I it?