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Who is your hero? Who is the person you’d most like to emulate in this world? What are the elements of being that you wish you had so deeply ingrained as a part of yourself that you don’t have to work at living those things – even slightly? What are those things about humanity that you wish were simply second nature in yourself and in everyone around you?
One of my strongest Heroes has always been Jim Henson. I was never fortunate enough to meet the man, but I think I came to understand a bit about who he was by virtue of my infatuation with his beloved character, Kermit The Frog. In fact, so many people agreed that it was and is nearly impossible to separate the man from the Muppet, that when Henson passed away, and the entire cast of Muppets and their performers attended his memorial service, Kermit was the only one missing from the day. It stands to reason. How could Kermit exist without Jim Henson? The answer, of course, is that he can’t… not really.
Whenever I feel that I’m missing inspiration in my life, I look inside books. Turning those pages never fails to remind me that ordinary people can create extraordinary things… and so can I. Libraries are the sacred storehouses of this inspiration, forever reminding us what is possible.
Jim Henson knew this. In his film, The Dark Crystal, one scene represents this primary theme of his life's work. Gelflings, Kira and Jen, find themselves in an ancient space… the ruins… the houses of the old ones. Strange markings cover the walls. Kira has never seen them before and asks Jen what they are. “Writing,” replies Jen. “What’s Writing?” asks Kira. “Words that stay,” responds Jen. “My master taught me.”
Henson understood the power of story, and that once created, it will never go away; instead, leading generations to come. The Dark Crystal shared this important lesson of intellect in a very sincere and poignant way. However, Henson also knew that our heart shared a similar lesson, and that one of the best ways to remind ourselves is through gentle humor.
Kermit is the best keeper of that memory. He reinforces our individual uniqueness and the qualities that help to connect our stories with the whole of humanity. Through his gentle ambition, his unfailing belief in his friends, his acceptance that faults are not failures, and a knowledge that enthusiasm for the moment is success enough, Kermit became my hero.
Maybe Kermit can’t fly or fling webbing from his wrists, or out-shoot those who work against him. But he is strong in the ways of the forces of positive thinking, tenacity, and love. Corrupting him is futile, he will never be assimilated into the negative space of the domineering. He believed that something better would always come along, and he never took his friends and their trust in him for granted. Kermit The Frog is who I always wanted to be… with a side of Jim Henson to keep it all real, attainable, and worthy of imitation.
Kermit The Frog and his creator, Jim Henson aren’t just entertaining punchlines and mystical voices that tell amazing stories. The Man and The Muppet are two of my most compelling heroes, and their legacy's impact inside me Makes Life Worth Living.
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