Your heroes determine your trajectory. This might seem as obvious statement, but it’s true nonetheless. The people we admire will influence our lives and our choices, if only on a subconscious level.
But what exactly constitutes a hero? And how about trajectory?
Much like the words archnemesis, honor, and fugue, we simply don’t use the words HERO or TRAJECTORY very often, so a definition becomes vital. Without a full understanding of the words, this becomes another in a long line of trite sayings masquerading as wisdom.
Trajectory is the angle at which an object is shot into the air
An item’s trajectory can be parallel with the ground, much akin to an arrow shot from a bow. A trajectory can be aimed straight up, like a shuttle launch.
Or it can be somewhere in between, to accomplish the maximum distance with the proper force. The best image is a punter in a football game. The ideal punt hangs in the air for just over five seconds, while also traveling 50 or more yards.
Trajectory for a person is less human cannonball and more metaphorical – how high and how far will we go in life?
A hero is someone whose life we give a significant amount of attention to, regardless of the reason for the time spent
Note the definition we are using here is distinct from the typical thoughts around a hero. Usually, a ‘hero’ is seen as a person we aspire to be like, and there is truth to that.
But I contend that we are impacted in very significant ways by anyone we give attention to.
We are impacted by those we commit to, whatever the form of commitment
This attention can be moments spent physically together, time spent on the Internet researching a celebrity, or even reading a biography. At a certain point, even an over-commitment to a television show can make someone a hero.
So then, the people we consistently invest time and energy into will impact the how high and how far we will go in life.
There are echoes of Psalm 90:12 and Ephesians 5:16 in this understanding of heroes and trajectory –
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom
Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days
If we spend a good amount of time researching the life of Steve Nash – learning everything from the way a single NCAA tournament game paved his way into the NBA to how his style of play has changed over the course of his career – it is possible that he will exert influence over our life.
Not that we might suddenly be more willing to file for divorce a day after the birth of a child, because that is ridiculous. Rather, his single-minded pursuit of excellence in his career could inspire us to do the same.
If I decided the television series Scandal is spectacular, it might result in a weeklong binge on its thirty-nine episodes. This investment of time could spark within me a penchant for the twisted sense of justice exalted in this show.
As I became aware of this shift, I would have to make a choice whether this “the end justifies the means” morality was aligned with my God, and I would have to choose whether to continue to watch the show moving forward. Whether I wanted these heroes to remain in my life.
But what do Kerry Washington, Moses, Steve Nash, and the Apostle Paul have to do with thriving?
At its core, thriving is maintaining momentum toward our dreams. It is doing more than going through the motions in our life, to make something worthwhile of our time on this planet. And who we admire will impact not only how heartily we pursue this greater purpose, but the way in which we pursue it.
One of my favorite examples of how a hero can impact us is found in C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian, specifically the talking mice. In the second Battle of Beruna, the High Mouse Reepicheep has his tail cut off, and it initially cannot be healed. His fellow talking mice all unsheathe their swords and are prepared to remove their own tails, because they do not wish to have an advantage their leader lacks.
Aslan the Great Lion is touched by their commitment to Reepicheep, and restores his tail as a result. Yet this narrative remains as a powerful reminder of how a hero can inspire us.