So eventually returning to the hero series it’s time to talk about my next role model. He is Duncan MacLeod, The Highlander.
Now with Highlander and indeed the next hero we have something a little different because where the heroes before were heroes from my childhood influencing me as I grew up. But I came across Highlander one night watching sky back in around 1994 if I remember right (either way it was half way through series two). By now I was what could be considered a young adult but I believe that we can always find mentors, role models and lessons throughout our lives so there was still stuff I could learn from Duncan MacLeod.
For a start there is the fact that once again we have a sword bearing hero and to be fair the sword fight scenes in the series are one of the highlights. But unlike He-man and Robin of Sherwood this is just a normal everyday sword not some magical powerful artefact although the lighting effects that follow a beheading is cool. MacLeod is also very well trained in martial arts (as is Adrian Paul, the actor who plays him) and it was because of watching this programme that I eventually took up martial arts myself including sword work.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I was not that good at it, I didn’t practise as much as I should have and at times I found it quite difficult. I did it for about a year but I did get to my yellow belt (the first upgrade) so it’s still something I can be proud of.
The show also taught me to be aware of life itself and how short it is. There is one episode where MacLeod berates a fellow immortal of not following his dreams stating that most people grow old and die before realising them. This to me is a great lesson that we should get out there. Life is for living and to strive for our goals. It’s interesting that Macleod and the final two heroes on the list are immortal in a way or at least live longer than normal lives. It does show that immortality can be more of a curse and what it means to be human.
MacLeod also shows other traits such as personal honour, a sense of moral duty and an acceptance for who you are. If we take a look at the character we see that in his life he has fought in many wars and taken down many immortals and mortals. He is at heart a warrior raised by a warrior clan in the 1400’s. Where you could draw a similarity with the early MacLeod and He-man, both being warriors He-man is always a clear cut good guy. It is impossible for him to do bad things. MacLeod on the other hand has chosen sides in wars, he has killed people. He is more realistic and therefore not as clear a hero as He-man. The same can be said with Spider-man in that Spider-man never aims to kill anyone. The closes comparable hero we have looked at so far then is Robin Hood where we have someone who has chosen to fight for honour even if it means having to kill at times. (and it should be just pointed out here that I’m not justifying killing per say but that it does mark these two heroes as flawed heroes or even to a degree antiheroes.
Here is a role model who in later life is disciplined and uses meditation to reflect on problems in his life and to bring calm. Thus he is able to balance his role as a warrior and being peaceful. Many time in my life I have battled my way through life that sometimes it has felt like I’ve been fighting a hard battle and sometimes I need to step back and take a rest and enjoy the good things I have in my life. Such times have come and gone but there has always been some other good thing come along and that keeps me fighting against the difficult things in life.
Finally in his final episode there is a line where he thanks fellow immortal Methos saying that he has taught him that life is about change, about accepting who you are, good or bad. He knows he has done some bad things in his life, as mentioned above, even if he believed he was right at the time. But he has come to accept who he has been and made peace with that. This too is a lesson that can be taken from the show. I have made mistakes in my past and there is nothing I can do to change them but I can learn from them and move on and try to be a better person. The part about accepting change is also very poignant. Over the course of the series through the use of flashbacks we see how his life had changed and it highlights how people and places have come into and out of his life. In the second season we see his long term girlfriend killed and after a time MacLeod had to move on. The fact that the song Dust in the wind is used following the aftermath of Tessa’s death is very apt. It is something that I have kept in mind ever since that people and situations will change throughout my life and I’ve learnt to enjoy the moment knowing that it can soon be gone. Uni is a great example of this as I was very aware that it would end one day.
MacLeod therefore ends up being the role model that makes me look at my inner self and to my past and try to find peace with myself and that past. He also make me more aware of my limited time in the world and to try and make the most of it. To enjoy friends and adventures while I can.