My heroes are people who shine, act and broadcast clear ideals that have shaped my personality and mission in life. Heroes don’t always save babies in burning buildings. Sometimes they simply show us courageous ways to live in the world. In one way or another, all of my heroes are Not F*ing Around.
You don’t even want to know how many times I’ve read Catcher in the Rye. It’s a little embarrassing.
Okay, fine. I read it for the first time when I was fourteen. I read it every year between then and my thirtieth birthday. Then I stopped (for a few years). Now I read it every year. I know. I’m a freak.
I love this book, and I love the flawed and awesome protagonist Holden Caulfeild, because this guy is bullshit free. He sees through the phony movie stars. The full-of-shit headmasters at his private schools. The kid’s mom who he runs into on the train.
Holden’s mind is like fire. So full of beauty, despair, hope, fantasy, sadness, melancholy and dreams.
He’s a good kid. But he’s lost. He lives in a world that’s harsh and unforgiving. He’s so sensitive that he feels everything. And that’s too much. So he goes inside of himself to get by. He interacts with the world but so much of his experience is internal.
Holden is punk rock, decades before the Sex Pistols hit the streets of London. He’s childlike and innocent, even when he hires a hooker. (And doesn’t sleep with her.) He’s lonely and beautiful. Scared and aloof. He loves his baby sister and idolizes his big brother. And he’s torn apart by the death of his younger brother. It haunts his memory and subtly casts him into a world of oblivion.
I f*ing love Holden. I didn’t know why I loved him so much the first ten times I read the book. I just did. But when I came around again in my thirties it was like visiting an old friend. For the first time I could see all of these things. For the first time I had some distance. Some perspective.
Holden is my hero because he was one of the only ones who understood me when I was growing up. He was my true friend. He saw and could articulate what I felt in ways that I couldn’t. Just knowing that there was someone else out there who gets you is a very big deal. Even if it’s a fictional teenager from the fifties.
Who got you when you were growing up?
Why do you love Holden?
Who is your hero?