The Geelong Cats just won the AFL grand final – the first time in over 40 years – and the town has gone ballistic. More than twenty fours after the glorious event, people are still roaming the streets, toasting all who pass by, cars are flying the Geelong colors. Even though I do not really follow the AFL, I do find myself grinning with pride at the fantastic effort the local lads have made. What an achievement! Perhaps it’s because I’ve had the pleasure of training Cat star, Jimmy Bartell this year; a personal relationship always makes it easier to relate. But I suspect it’s simply because we all have an inbuilt need for hero-worship. And I do not mean this in any negative sense at all – it’s true, the world needs it’s heroes.
As Joseph Campbell writes on the hero’s journey:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
Since time immemorial, we have all wanted to share in the tale the hero has to tell. It is a part of our nature to live, in some small way, vicariously through the journey of the heroes we admire. Whether this be in film, whether it be through the victories of our sporting legends or through the words in books. Hero’s inspire, they light fire’s in our bellies, the take us to a higher place. We all see further when we stand on the shoulders of our heroes.
I despair when great fighters come ‘out of retirement’ only to lose, and sometimes, lose badly. For me, this is sad – not because of the loss they endure; rather because I prefer to remember them as they once were – invincible – at the top of their game – hero’s incarnate.