I don't know about my friends, but I think one reason I am drawn to martial arts is I want to be a hero, or at least have the ability to be one. It's not something I generally think about, but I do think it's buried in my psyche.
I recently learned about my daughter's memory of a sad event when she was little. A relative was in the hospital, when my daughter was in early elementary school. Although it was hard for my daughter to understand what was going on, she understood the tension and sadness in the family.
While we were visiting at the hospital, she and I were separated when a fire alarm went off and a door between us automatically closed and locked. We could see each other through the door's window.
As soon as the alarm was over, I pushed open the door and went to her, I remember. But her (metaphorical) memory of the event was that I "ran like a hero through the flames and took my hand and saved me."
I do hope I can get back to sparring. This week I had a frank talk with the sensei at my old school about how at-risk I was starting to feel in our sparring classes when I took a break from the school three months ago. He listened attentively, we talked about what he's been trying to do to rein in the hot-heads, and we worked out a plan for me to start getting accustomed to my school's style of sparring again, a step at a time.
But it's deeply satisfying to know, whether sparring works out or not, I'm already a hero in somebody's eyes.