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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kennedy

The Hero Within

Updated: Jan 18

It was an early, bone-chilling-cold morning, and the Lake was calm under the rising sun. All the boats in the marina were facing in the same direction, their bows doing precisely what the winds and currents demanded. And in that moment, I was struck with an epiphany.

Many of us do what the winds and currents of our friends, family and the world at large want us to do. I know this from personal experience, and I've seen it plenty with others in my life.

When we lose our sense of identity and get off purpose - our calling, our passion - we end up drifting through life like seaweed, going wherever the winds and currents take us. And the light, spark, and wonder we had as a child gets lost.

One of Henry David Thoreau's most frequently quoted sayings is "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."

While this may be true, I believe within each of us is an Odysseus. But the people closest to us are often the ones secretly hoping we don't achieve our dreams. And worse, they can be the critics attempting to derail us on our path, much like the Cyclops, Sirens, and Serpentines Odysseus faced along his epic journey home.

"The world will ask you who you are, and if you don't know,

the world will tell you." ~ Carl Jung

Their discouragement distracts us from doing what we love, so instead, we do what they think we should do. And we move away from our true calling.

With subtle digs we're told we can't or we shouldn't. Or it won't matter. Or it's a waste of time... and a thousand other deflating and debilitating words, the language of resistance. We settle. And we end up living a life of quiet desperation.

“Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book,

dismiss whatever insults your own soul.” ~ Walt Whitman

We need to rise above this nonsense, keep our integrity intact, and fight the good fight. In each of us a hero exists. Our hero is the one who lifts us up when the world knocks us down. Our hero reminds us of our humanity in a world where it's easier to be a critic than a celebrator.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters

compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

And finally, our hero is our ultimate accountability partner with us to the end, the one staring back at us in the mirror.

Here's how Dale Wimbrow describes this hero in his inspirational poem, The Guy in the Glass:

by Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,

And the world makes you King for a day,

Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,

And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn't your Father, or Mother, or Wife,

Whose judgement upon you must pass.

The fella whose verdict counts most in your life

Is the one staring back from the glass.

He's the fella to please, never mind all the rest,

For he's with you clear to the end,

And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test

If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,

And think you're a wonderful guy,

But the man in the glass says you're only a bum

If you can't look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,

And get pats on the back as you pass,

But your final reward will be heartaches and tears

If you've cheated the guy in the glass.

Odysseus wanted to get home, that place where he belonged. He encountered monsters and radical resistance along the way, but he persevered.

Like Odysseus, the hero within us is trying to get home, that place where we belong. But where is that place?

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else

is the greatest accomplishment." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our family and friends tell us who they think we are. But who are we really? What is our true identity, our calling which is ours alone? Who is that person staring back at us in the glass?

That's our hero and we need to get to know him or her better. We need to pay more attention to our hero and less attention to the language of resistance. See the alignments, whatever they might be, no matter how absurd or unusual they seem to everyone around us. Our hero is trying to tell us what stirs our soul and makes us feel like we're in total harmony with nature.

Listen to your hero.

Whatever adversity you may be facing right now, whatever shame, disgrace, or disappointment, know that someone somewhere has faced something far greater, and they overcame it. They found their hero within and you can too.

Figure out who you are, what you believe and how you intend to live your life. Set your own sails. Fight the good fight. Slay the Cyclops. Ignore the Sirens. Tame the Serpentines.

Be yourself and don't settle. Let the world know who you are and why you're here, and do it with passion!

Here's to you and your Odysseus, your hero within.


I’m Michael Kennedy, Olympic Valley, CA resident, married to Nicola Kennedy. I’m a premium ghostwriter and photographer. I just want to say thanks for your attention - I appreciate it in such a noisy world. If you enjoyed it, please share with others.

It means a lot to me and it helps others see the story.

If you're interested in owning any photos in this post, or in my gallery: click here, call or text me at 530.608.9150. Let me know what size you want, and I'll send a quote. My email: 

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Nov 07, 2023

Thank you for sharing your inspirational perspective!


Nov 06, 2023

Thank you ~ I enjoy your photos & posts.

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