We all have our personal heroes. Those that inspire us to be better people. To overcome any obstacles. Or those who bring us joy and entertainment through the various arts.
I met several when I was younger just through the natural course of the various adventures I went on. For example, working the convention circuit in the 1990s meant I encountered numerous actors from old favorites ranging from Star Wars to the A-Team. During my time in the wrestling business, I would often encounter legends of the industry by working on the undercard of shows they were on. Other times were chance encounters with Dallas Cowboys legends or local broadcasting names.
I took these opportunities for granted as I got older. In 2009, I had an opportunity to meet and talk to the person who has topped my "want to meet" list since 1982: Drew Barrymore. Several friends worked to get me passes to a movie screening in Dallas where she would be present, but when it came time to say something... I froze. The disappointment in myself grew deep as I slowly watched her walk away, realizing I'd squandered an opportunity I'd waited 27 years for at that point.
I decided I'd never allow myself to do that again. In the years since, I've had the honor of meeting and/or talking with and/or working with a long list of my personal heroes. From the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper to Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell to cast members of NBC's Chuck and even the creator of Pac-Man Toru Iwatani... I've made it a personal mission to take every one of these opportunities to meet them and thank them.
And I'm glad I have, as it seems they are just as grateful to hear a kind word as all of us who enjoy their work are to meet them. It's an incredible experience all around.
As 2021 rolls around, I can sit here and say that I've now interacted with almost every one of these inspirational souls that have given me so much without even knowing it. In some cases I've even befriended some of them, a fact that blows my mind that that I'm eternally grateful for.
Ironically, the very person who inspired this "Inspirational Walkabout" over the years - Drew Barrymore - is still one that I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting. The opportunity I blew in 2009 has yet to come back around, but some day I'll have the chance yet again... and this time I will not squander it.
The old saying claims that you should never meet your heroes. I strongly disagree. When the opportunity presents itself to you, don't blow it. The experience will carry with you for the rest of your life in the most amazing ways. Go for it.