You'd think it would be an obscure question, something one is not often asked. And yet, I've been confronted with the question "Who is your hero?" or "Who are your heroes or role models or inspirations?" everywhere from my job interview at Diablo Valley College to the blank space on my myspace.com profile page.
Every time I am asked, I can whip out an answer that pleases (I got the job, for one) and my myspace profile lists Oprah and Hillary as my inspirations, my heroes, people I can look to as models.
But the answers are never really true. Sure, John Irving, my high school English teacher, and Marilyn French are all good people to mention, as writing and teaching inspirations but I never really knew any of them. John and I are less acquainted than Oprah and I. And Hillary? She never calls.
The longer answer--one not useful for job interviews--is that people are my heroes. Just average, ordinary people living every day doing what needs to be done are the people I admire. People living through life and doing so with not much whinging and some bravery are the people who I admire, who inspire.
The two men putting the "float" on our kitchen floor last night, staying until after 8 to finish the job because they said they would be done. There they were, on their hands and knees, pushing this concrete stuff into perfect flatness.
My friend who has gone through three bouts of ovarian cancer and is just finishing her graduate degree in counseling--that on top of her Ph.D.
My son hanging in through year after year of dismal school experiences, cracking one out of the park with his SAT scores, and doing such good work in college.
People who have lost people and things, homes and spouses and children, the bravery it takes to move into another hour without that thing or person. the strength to get to that spot where living becomes almost okay, then all right, then maybe even good.
All of us here, knowing that there is only one destination, death, and yet, look what we manage to accomplish when we put our minds to it. We are so often horrible, but in between? Wow. What a novel, painting, building, garden, homemade apple pie.
The effort it takes sometime to just get up in the morning is overwhelming, and I admire the people who do it day after day even when common sense says to stay in bed, under the covers, hiding from it all.
This is too long a speech for myspace, and my interviewing team might have crossed me off the list for going on and on, but this is my true answer. Just ask me.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org