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“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.” – Ernest Hemingway

I remember when Batman and Robin came into my life.

This heroic team, in their Batmobile, foiled The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Catwoman, and a villainous menagerie of other evildoers at every turn.

In the beginning, Batman was on his own, but it wasn’t long before a sidekick was added. Robin, The Boy Wonder. He became the younger half of the dynamic duo, keeping Gotham City safe.

Maybe because Robin was only in his teens, I soon identified with this apprentice more than his superhero boss. Robin was enthusiastic, followed orders, and let Batman enjoy the spotlight. Without even knowing why, I was learning the lessons that would help as I later started my career.

Hemingway said, “As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.” I wonder what he meant by that? Maybe Hemingway was asking me to redefine my ideas of heroes. Maybe he was reminding me to look beyond the obvious models who get all the attention and find the more supportive “Robins” in the world.

These are the heroes who are hidden in the shadows, doing the important work so the stars can shine.

This hero is doing what he loves.It’s heroes like these who get my grandchildren to school safely.

These “Robins” are the heroes who make everything else possible. They teach my children, police my streets, and patch the potholes. They fight my fires, and pick up my trash. They welcome the stranger who I don’t even notice standing in line next to me. They are the ones who genuinely try to help me at the store even if their smile and attitude won’t make any difference in their paycheck.

They are the “Robins” who make life better. They deserve to be recognized for their work.

The next time you’re cheering after a concert, listen for one final clap. That will be me. I always save part of my applause for the fellow who’s the last to leave the building, the one who’ll sweep the stage, turn off the lights and lock the doors. He’s my hero along with all who join him in the shadows making sure everything gets done.

So Hemingway was right. It has been harder to find heroes as I got older, especially if I continue to invoke my childhood notions of looking for them in their flashy outfits with flowing capes and rippling muscles.

I need to look for Robins. They’re the ones who matter. They are the ones who are necessary in my life – today.

Now tell me about your heroes. Do you have both Batman and Robin types in your life? What group do you identify with? Why do you think that is so?

How do you feel about Hemingway’s notion of still needing heroes as we get older?

How would it be important for you to start being someone’s hero?

As always, the conversation starts here.

“In the ordinary choices of every day we begin to change the direction of our lives.” – Eknath Easwaran

Epilogue

Maybe I start to find my own spotlight by helping others step into theirs.