The baseball bat hit my jaw in slow motion. It felt more like a flash of light than typical pain, and then blackness. Crusted blood and tears glued my lips into the dirt when I awoke. And then came the pain, like having wisdom teeth removed with a dull spoon. I stumbled back to my family’s tent.
On vacation, somewhere I had heard the song which transported me back to this event. “I need a hero,” played somewhere in the distance, and for whatever timing the event returned to my memory while my wife and kids joked in the car. They know me as the man I am, not the battered boy I was. Perhaps they know a little of who I was, because they’ve had to endure me healing and growing over the years, especially my wife, but they’ll never quite comprehend my childhood, nor would I ever want them to.
Two kids held my arms and shoved me down to my knees, while three others loomed above me, one with the bat. They had caught me riding my bike through the campground, and I had foolishly conceded to stop when they asked me if I wanted to play with them. I hadn’t imagined the game on the menu was me. On vacation, I had let my guard down, assuming these kids didn’t know me, and hadn’t targeted me like those at home.
Sometimes it’s not the song that gets you emotional, but the people and events that come to mind when you hear it. I had needed a “hero.” I had prayed, and wished and dreamed of being rescued, but it never came. The only voice I kept hearing in my head said, “You’re going to have to get out of this yourself. You’re going to have to be your own hero.”
Driving yesterday, I looked back in the rear view mirror of our car at my children, as we came off the beach. We were passing the campground where I had been “knocked home” by that baseball bat and had had my bike stolen by the other vacationing kids.
I look at my family now, my amazing life of traveling and teaching across the world, of sitting here and writing to thousands of readers who, going through their own troubles, have mustered the courage to become their own heros and heroines in their own lives, and know that each of these memories has given me the chance to become who I had been destined to be, and to continue to grow each day.
Don’t ever regret. Good people come into your life to bring you happiness and support. Bad events come into your life to give you experience and opportunities. The worst events give you lessons on how much spirit you have inside you, and the best people come into your life to remind you of the hero that you always and already are.
Maya Angelou wrote, “If you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be.” You can be the hero in your own life. You don’t need a rescuer. You don’t need a hero. You are one.