Some of My Heroes
By Kate Peters
Hero: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. After contemplation, I have sifted out four, of many greats, who fit this bill for me:
Isadora Duncan (1877-1927) was a pioneering artist who heralded the noble philosophy of freedom through beautiful choreography and natural body motions. She defined dance as, “luminous manifestation of the soul,” and, inspired by her lead, I left college with the heart of a dancer. I believe my desire to dance naked among wildflowers bears Isadora’s free-expression stamp to a “T.” She is one of my muses, for sure.
I also appreciate Wm. Blake, who wrote, “…exuberance is beauty.” When I find myself overflowing in some excessive form of expression, I am consoled to know that, as an Aesthetic Expressionist, I do show a good and beautiful soul.
My mother was wise. She was vivacious. She allowed me to grow up as a free spirit. She loved music and, already the mother of five, played the French horn in a local college symphony while I rode along, in utero. I attribute every bit of my love and talent for music to her.
When I was eight, she rousted us and took us outside to see Sputnik pass overhead. My two sisters and I stood beside her, out in our luscious-smelling blackberry patch, and we watched that man-made object slowly traverse the blackened sky like a shiny mite crawling across the interior of a huge celestial dome. I’m glad she hauled us out of bed that night. Years later, I did the same for my own children when a comet orbited near Earth.
My mother also demonstrated good citizenship. To this day, I remember the hike she took her three girls on, through one of ancient Hawaii’s sacred passes. Halawa Valley had been slated to become H-3 highway, crossing Oahu to the windward side, and she wanted us to see it before it changed forever.
As we walked between its steep volcanic walls, we saw bits of trash that modern humans had discarded. My mama never could abide by littering, and she started picking up all the refuse. When her hands got full, she found an “opportune” paper bag, and stuffed the trash inside. There was more, and more, and soon she had us girls collecting, too, filling discarded bags with papers and bottles and everything that lay out of place on the sacred ground.
When we came upon a pad of blood and puss-covered gauze lying where someone had unwound their bandaging and left it behind, we three girls recoiled. That’s when my mother grabbed up a dead branch the length of a walking-stick, and impaled the disgusting sign of a human presence. She wound the long bandaging strip around and around, until it was secure, let the last two or three feet of gauze streamer float loose at the end of the stick, and carried it out like a flag. My mother carried that standard like the true Girl Scout that she was. What a gal! I was extremely proud to be marching in her Litterbug Patrol as we came out of that fated valley, and returned to “civilization.” She was a perfect role model.
Although in some ways I still fall short, throughout my adult life I have tried to reflect her good and peaceful nature, to do the best that I can do, and not to leave too many craters behind.