Posts Tagged ‘what makes a super hero?’

I remember having to think really hard the first time someone asked me.  I knew what superheroes were; superheroes were like regular people except, well, super.  And they rescued people. 

But what makes a normal person a hero?  Strength?  Courage?  Wisdom?   

After careful consideration, and all of the insight my seven-year-old mind could muster, I decided, like many other kids, that my parents were the most heroic people I could think of.  And over the years as the question stayed the same, but my understanding of heroism grew, my parents continued to be at the top of my hero list.  Especially my mom.  But in high school, right about the time I started including traits like compassion and determination to my list of heroic characteristics, people stopped asking me who my heroes were. 

Think about it.  When was the last time someone asked you who your heroes are?  When was the last time you even thought about who your heroes are?

I can tell you that up until quite recently it had been at least a decade for me.  But last Friday my favorite radio station interrupted their usual talk free morning music program with an interview.  The interview itself was only about five minutes long, but it changed how I define heroism and brought a new name to the top of the list of heroes I hadn’t thought about in years.

Alesaundra Tafoya

If you haven’t heard of her, I wouldn’t be surprised.  What little fame she has is recent and mostly local to the San Francisco Bay Area.  There’s no Wikipedia entry on her.  She doesn’t have a blog or a twitter account– she doesn’t even have a facebook page.  She lives in a relatively small Northern California town best known for its family focused community.  She’s not a spokesperson.  She’s never had a job.  I don’t think she goes to school yet.  She’s not a typical hero.  You see, Alesaundra Tafoya is three years old.

Alesaundra Tafoya

A few weeks ago Alesaundra’s father took two prescription medications, unaware that they should not have been mixed, and blacked out in her family’s living room.  When her father stopped responding to her, Alesaundra left her home and walked two blocks by herself to the local fire station to get help for her father.  Although there was no way for her to understand what exactly had happened, Alesaundra was able to communicate to the firefighters that her father needed help and then led them back to her house.  If the firefighters had not arrived as quickly as they did, Alesaundra’s father would have died.

Before I heard Alesaundra’s story, looking up to someone always had some sort of literal association along with the figurative meaning.  In the long list of people I had considered heroes over the years, I had never included someone younger than myself.  It was always the adults whose stories of courage and determination and an absolute understanding of the right thing to do had taken my breath away.  But now there’s a three year old sitting next to my mom on my list of heroes.

As it turns out, sometimes discovering people to look up to requires looking down.

Links to the story:

Read Full Post »