“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.“
This is the opening line from my favorite Charles Dickens book, David Copperfield. The line pierced me when I read it back in high school, again in college, and now, as a forty-five year old man with more life in the rear-view than on the horizon. In my youth, the line held promise and exhortation and there was joy in reading it. Now, though, it feels different. I’m more than halfway through, and I am a hollow hero at my best, anti-hero perhaps, and villain at my worst. My own characters, the heroes, would despise me. I’ve been stabbed, shot at, punched and hurt. I’ve squandered love and money and friendship and decades for the idea that I was that hero in my own story, some kind of Harlan Howard, Steinbeck, Hemingway creation, and well… No. The story is mine, and there are no heroes. Maybe God should have been, but he wasn’t. I tried, and I guess if He wanted to then it would have been more apparent who the hero was.
It ain’t over yet. I’d love to see something spectacular. I’d love to see a hero.