The Bare Soul - May 13, 2007
Who's My Hero?

One of my other interests besides barefoot running is World War II history. My wife knows my love for reading about the "Greatest Generation", so she subscribed me to a magazine aptly titled "World War II". Recently, I read an interview of Andy Rooney from "60 Minutes" fame. Rooney was a crack reporter for "Stars & Stripes", THE military newspaper of the time. One particular remark struck me in a concurrent way with what I have felt when meeting "famous" people during my life. Rooney talks about meeting Ernest Hemingway in a fairly non-descript fashion when they were both diving for cover behind a wall from a German assault. Rooney simply stated "Don't ever meet your hero -- you will always be disappointed."

How true I thought! So often those whom we admire seem larger than life, notwithstanding they also have liabilities which we all possess. As my dad used to say, "Doesn't matter who you are, everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time". Through my running career I have met several "notable" racers and runners. Frank Shorter, Olympic Marathon Winner, Joe Henderson, Hal Higdon, Jim Ryun, Bill Rodgers and others. (I had a chat once with Bill Rodgers regarding how he used to enjoy smoking when he was early into competitive racing.) In all reality, they are people just like you and me that have managed to be remarkable, for a season, in their respective running careers. I remember sitting in a radio station in Lincoln Nebraska being interviewed along with Dick Beardsley who ran possibly the most exciting 2nd place finish ever of the Boston Marathon against Alberto Salazar -- the famous "Duel in the Sun". When it came right down to it, Dick came right down to it -- he was just a normal guy who had an extraordinary moment in racing history.

Have I been disappointed when meeting some of these greats? Not at all. I guess my expectations have been in check, knowing that they are people just like us. In a similar regard, I have had folks that have met your humble barefoot runner and have undoubtedly been disappointed. Maybe I was not as joyous as I seem in some of my photos in my race reports or maybe I did not acknowledge them with the type of response they were looking for, either in person or on email. I am quite certain that when folks do meet me and get to know me, they quickly decide that I am no big deal. Possibly, I do some remarkable things occasionally with my barefoot running, but they are merely manifestations of a fairly normal person. "Familiarity breeds contempt" I suppose and getting to know someone certainly reveals who and what they are. None of us truly deserve the title of hero.

There is one, however, who will never disappoint. I'm sure Mr. Rooney had not equated the Lord Jesus as one of his heroes, the one who died for his sins as well as the whole world's. No, I'm certain that he had not thought of his Savior in this regard because if he had he would have recognized that God through His Son never disappoints, but will always fulfill every expectation of a true hero. "What you see is what you get" is not a true statement when talking about the hero Jesus. "What you believe is what you get" for the very act of believing creates more belief and more understanding of what Christ gave to us by his shed blood.

We may ask ourselves the poignant question: Who is my hero today? Humankind will always disappoint us in one way or another. We are human. But there is one who was both human and divine. He is the perfect hero that will never let us down!

Having a Blessed Barefoot Blast!

Barefoot Rick

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