Role Models?

Sreejit Poole at Seeker’s Dungeon suggests we write about role models. When it comes to role models I sympathize with Charles Barkley, who resented the burden of being a role model. Good old Charles.

When I was a kid I idolized Willie Mays. At age 12 or so I idolized the author Howard Fast. But then I saw a photo of him. He was just a plain-looking guy going bald. Charles Chaplin was a later hero, but when I read his autobiography I was disappointed that his genious did not extend into every area of human endeavor. Chaplin was not perfect, goshdarnit. Harpo Marx’s autobiography was similarly disappointing. You can begin to get an idea of my catchment area vis a vis heroes and role models. I’m not a very serious person. And I don’t take hero worship and mentoring very seriously. I do feel, though, that I’ve been influenced by a great number of people. Each one of them is a part of me. And the same is true, I imagine, for all of us. Everything influences us. Even Sir Charles .

I wrote a blog on this subject a while back and here it is.

Angels, Lifechangers, and Laughter

By Bumba on March 24, 2013 | Edit

Eric Alagan and billgncs posted last week about “lifechangers”: people who played pivotal roles in their lives. Eric called them angels, and in his beautiful way described a life changer, an angel in his life.

IMG_0099I’ve been trying to think of the life changers in my own life, but I can think of no single person or life changer in particular. My life looks to me like some long but inevitable path, an unanalyzable unit. But in my efforts to remember life changers and angels I recalled some of the innumerable people I have met who were at least part-angels: peeople who shined for me, who smiled, who befriended me, who helped, who liked me, who shared something with me. Taken together they create quite a bright light – a bonfire, as Eric suggests. images

I thought of Craig W., a classmate in 3rd grade. A chunky African-American kid in our mostly white, mostly Italian, P.S. 34 in the Bronx, who went home from school by train. (Yes, it was safe for an 8 year old to take the train by himself back then) As I lived adjacent to the train station, Craig and I would walk together. We would laugh almost continuously. I remember we had something of a joke about the words “sour cream” and “sour milk”. The mere mention of either of these words would throw our 8 year old psyches into paroxysms of laughter. Craig would usually cry from laughing, his round torso would jiggle and bounce with laughter. On the last day of school we were laughing even more wildly than ever. As we approached the train station, I said, “See ya in September, Craig”. Craig said “See ya” as he walked giggling and guffawing all the way up the station steps. But Craig must have moved over the summer, and I never saw him again.

Craig and I had laughed with the angels. images-2

What an amazing piece of joy Craig brought me with his “sour cream” and “sour milk” jokes.

A gift from the heavens it was!

I think of it now and smile.

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23 Responses

  1. the power of sincere shared emotion always amazes me. Thanks for sharing. – bw

    1. You’re welcome. And thanks for making me think – a rare experience for me.

  2. “Craig and I had laughed with the angels” – what a wonderful line. Rob

  3. Well “Bumba” :D

    This is a great honour to be mentioned here and in the company of a true gentleman such as Bill (billgncs).

    It saddened me to read you did not meet Craig again (as it reminded me of Heng and I), but also glad you retain that happy period. I think you were both angels for each other.

    It is so wonderful that the memories still evoke a smile.

    All good wishes and thank you,

    1. Eric,
      Thanks to you. And as for being sad that I never saw Craig again, I believe that, as a child, I was impervious to those sorts of reactions. Just as a dog possesses no memories to bother him, as a child I was unruffled, or too busy with stickball, to care or think about looking back. Interesting. But certainly it is wonderful to be able to share something with the angels in these fine moments.

  4. This was wonderful. Your friend would also recall you as an angel who befriended him, for sure.

    1. I have trouble thinking of myself as an angel, but theoretically you’re right.

  5. There is something very attractive about that “some long but inevitable path” that you mention… especially to one who’s gone down the rocky road. The story, though, is moving… despite being about the small moments.

    1. Well, maybe the long inevitable path is a rocky one. But the presence of joy and laughter, including many of the simple daily moments, has a touch of the divine I think. Well, I suppose everything would.

  6. Such are the moments that glisten……….more than just angels. :)

    1. That may be right. Last I heard angels don’t laugh or giggle very much.

      1. O, I have no idea who you’ve been talking with angels always laugh…………a deep deep laugh like thunder in the belly…………. :)

  7. Laughing with angels–a dear phrase–and a memory of childhood. Perhaps you will encounter him again someday–

    1. I very much doubt that we will meet, and we probably wouldn’t recognize each other after all these years. It’s just a sweet memory, and the fact that I can recall it so vividly points to its angelic nature. Thank you for commenting

  8. What a precious gift Stephen! I hope too that you can meet again :-)

    1. I hadn’t thought of meeting again, but it’s a nice thought.

  9. There is something so special about shared laughter between friends. I have one friend who can reduce me to a blubbering mass of giggles and snorts with just a few words. I haven’t seen her in years now but every once in awhile she will send me a message and I will burst out laughing.

    1. Woody Allen said that sex is the greatest thing in the world. After laughing.

  10. Laughter is so powerful. What a wonderful memory of your friend.

  11. hi Steve,
    “livechanger” that’s a good term! thanks for expanding thoughts on this topic…
    you helped me to remember some of my lifechangers (Joe Winter, NYC) – and – listening to your blues harp: I know, you’re becoming one more lifechanger for me – supporting my passion to play old fingerstyle blues guitar …

  12. Beautiful … yes life-changers – angels on earth. Wonderful post! x RL

    1. Thank you very much. Thank you for visiting and looking about.

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11 thoughts on “Role Models?

  1. We’re all encountered angels – these are moments of our lives worth treasuring. We’re all been angels too – but never know this – that knowledge is reserved for the people we touch, I reckon.

    A wonderful post, Stephen – what an inspiring start to my morning.
    – Eric –

  2. It’s that moment when we are with someone and doing the best we can without knowing it. And then we realize, and that’s when the change happens, like a bursting star. When you save those moments they can be a huge resource in times of turmoil. And as to perfection, good old Leonard Cohen says that there’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in. What joy, eh. Great post within a post, Bumba. Just like life – one thing leading to another. And another thing is sure, it’s good to still be travelling the long inevitable road. Right on!

    1. Thank you, Tish. I think the change happens from our experience without our noticing, but when we notice we can see a bit of light through the cracks. Keep on shining!

  3. Life changing angels, I like that. It is a cool way to think of it. Someone doesn’t need to be perfect to make a difference in our lives, so better to think of it like that then actual role models that are hard, or maybe impossible, to find.

    1. Yes. People seem to reveal the light occasionally. Anyone and anything can have that light. That would make us all imperfect angels. Very imperfect, but what the heck?

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