In my list, they should probably be separated into categories - fictional and real. The fluctuating distance between dreams and reality.
My fictional heroes are so most likely because of some aspect of their character that I admire, covet or am simply amazed by. And perhaps it is the reality of their character that makes them heroes.
"You know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. You get a little pat on the back, blah, blah, blah, attaboy. You get divorced. Your wife can't remember your last name. Your kids don't want to talk to you. You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me, kid, nobody wants to be that guy."
(John McClane - Live Free or Die Hard)
"Micro changes in air density, my ass."
(Ellen Ripley - Alien)
"He was paraphrasin' Nietsche, ya illiterate midget."
(Logan - Wolverine 35)
They become recognizable out of their creator's ability to carry forward the profound human essence, perhaps of someone nearby or influential: lover, grandfather, next-door neighbor.
"We're alike. I, too, believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in his life. I was twenty when they said a woman couldn't swim the Channel. You're twelve; you think a horse of yours can win the Grand National. Your dream has come early; but remember, Velvet, it will have to last you all the rest of your life."
(Mrs. Brown - National Velvet)
"Well, you can tell me now. I'm reasonably sober."
(Rick Blaine - Casablanca)
Once in a great while, I find real heroes, those living, breathing humans with heroic accomplishments or some monumental legacy of change or goodness. Or perhaps just people who have done something quite ordinary for whom I hold enduring respect and adoration.
"The thing about rights is that in the end you can't prove what should be considered a right."
(Dr. Paul Farmer)
I heard the Dalai Lama speak in Seattle at the Key Arena last spring. (see my earlier post)
Raymond Carver first inspired me to write at all.
"There isn't enough of anything
as long as we live. But at intervals
a sweetness appears and, given a chance
(Raymond Carver - Ultramarine)
Flannery O'Connor prompted me to write the stories in my head no matter how quirky or bizarre. I discovered a recording of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and joy welled up in my chest at the sound of her voice. (Listen to it from this playlist)
"My own approach to literary problems is very like the one Dr. Johnson’s blind housekeeper used when she poured tea–she put her finger inside the cup."
(Flannery O'Connor - Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction)
There's a much longer list, and I suppose there's always room for one more.
It's still early.