I read about him in my history books growing up. I’ve heard him quoted in all sorts of contexts. I have a friend who started a business based in part on his story. His life was colorful, filled with passion and adventure, more than most could handle. Right now I am on my second book about him. Here are a few quotes that especially struck me:
Reflecting back on his experience out West, he said this: “There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid at first, ranging from grizzly bears to ‘mean’ horses and gunfighters, but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to be afraid.”
He wrote about life and death this way: “Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die.” And he lived that out as he faced death exploring the Amazon wilderness.
He also loved his children well as a father, encouraging them and engaging them at so many points. In fact, he was so crazy about them that he dismissed traditional stuffiness and turned one of the most famous homes in the world (the White House) into a gigantic playroom for his kids.
His refusal to listen to the voice of fear at so many points speaks to my own fears. And his love of others, especially his children, speaks to my desire to engage others all around me. In short, he lived and died with passion.
Of course, he had his faults and weaknesses. But he is still a worthy hero to follow. And I think he is worthy in the way that all heroes become worthy. They are all a shadow, an echo, a distant reflection of that great hero of all time. He is the one who refused to listen to fear and every point in his life, even though his own death was horrific. And he was the one who deeply loved everyone around him. In short, he lived and died with passion, the first real man to appear in history, Jesus himself.
And here is the stunning proclamation of the Bible. Once we choose to follow him, we are going to be shaped into his image, into his heroic greatness. That’s the whole point of Christianity. We can all become heroes worthy of following!