As promised, I have compiled a list of my role models. But before I get into the list, it's helpful to define what I mean by a role model. To me, a role model is someone who epitomizes who you are or what you aspire to be. Doesn't have to be famous people, either. It can be your mailman if you want. Of course, this is my definition. Yours may differ, and I'm perfectly cool with that.
Anyway, here's my list.
- Mom and Dad. They brought me into this world and to this day they're still teaching me about life.
- My brothers Al and Gary. Without my brothers to cheer me on or give me good-natured ribbing, I wouldn't be nearly as fun as I am. Plus, we are there for each other no matter what.
- Ronald Reagan. Reagan was the quintessential Midwestern boy done good. No matter how successful he was or who he rubbed shoulders with, he never lost the values he had. I hope I grow up to be just like him.
- P. J. O'Rourke. If you haven't read his stuff, do it. He's the one who convinced me that politics is too serious a topic not to make fun of it.
- Kevin Smith. What P. J. O'Rourke is to literature, Smith is to movies. Once you dig past the crude humor, you see someone who has a passion for filmmaking even after all of these years. We should all be so lucky.
- George Carlin. My comedy mentor. Carlin was one of the first comedians I listened to on a regular basis when I was a kid, but it's not just his comedy that makes him a role model for me. It's how he fearlessly approaches life. He doesn't care if he offends one person or one hundred. He has an opinion and he's not afraid to share it.
- Neil Peart. I have to include the drummer/lyricist for Rush as one of my role models because his reaction to fame and recognition is not so different from mine. By keeping a healthy distance from the temptations of celebrity, Peart manages to keep his feet on the ground and his artistry with both drums and lyrics pure.
- The late Pat Loreto. One of my dearest friends in the world, and the woman responsible for keeping my connection with God open. I lost her a couple of years ago to cancer, but her spirit and her spirituality have never left me. Because of her, I am the Lutheran man I am today. Although she might not have agreed with my choice of church (since she was raised Catholic), I'm sure she would have loved me all the same.
- Payton Manning. One of the few genuinely good professional athletes out there today. Not only does he perform on the field, but he performs charity work off the field, not because he wants to portay a certain image of himself. He does it because he truly does want to give back to his community.
That's my list. It will change from time to time, but only seems to expand instead of contract. If you haven't done it yet, take a moment to think about who your role models are. You'll learn a lot about yourself when you do.