Everyone remembers the day they met their idol, if of course they ever got the chance to.
It’s the day your biggest inspiration takes a physical form. You achieve a deep sense of catharsis seeing for your own eyes the very person who drove you to hold the dreams and aspirations you have.
More than that, it’s a moment when you realise that it’s all possible for you to achieve yourself. Your idol achieved great success at something you admire them for, and they’re there right in front of you to prove it.
Last night I saw Robert Plant live in concert. At 64, he still has the greatest voice I’ve ever heard. And he’s still a great showman to boot.
Plant is now one of the most successful musicians alive today. He’s been making music for over four decades now, and has continuously moved onwards and adapted to new musical trends.
Throughout my teenage years, and still today, Robert Plant, along with the other members of Led Zeppelin, helped me define who I was.
Their music, and his lyrics, are still those that resonate with me the most.
But it was Robert Plant’s lyrics that were a major motivation for me wanting to become a writer. He is perhaps my favourite poet, thanks to his fantastic ability to craft words into something magical (and, given the reputation of Led Zeppelin, I do not say that lightly).
He, like myself, was a huge Tolkien aficionado and this was largely reflected in his poetry. He used fantastical Tolkienesque language and imagery to convey his stories, being able to turn basic themes such as sexuality, drug-use, fame, even the companionship he shared with his dog, into something of fantasy.
But there was always something ethereal or mystical which permeated through his words. Always immersed in other cultures and spiritual codes, Plant – with the help of the music of his band-mates – was able to transport you to different times and settings, always a sign of a great communicator.
Seeing him last night turned my aspirations as a writer from something abstract and intangible into something real and attainable.
Perhaps I’ll forever remember it as the day I met my idol. I sincerely hope I get the chance to make this same impact on someone else in the future.
I still remember the first time I saw his face, which revealed his experiences in life. Ten years ago, on a snowy night, I met him in the grandest house I had seen at the young age of eight. The room was filled with people I didn't remember, but there existed a closeness, the thickness of blood. Each was a member of my family, separated because of desperate times in China. That day we met, but I was too sick from the never-ending flight to express the joy.
It was my uncle who had opened the doors for us: my parents, siblings, and me, to come to Mei Gok (Chinese for America). It was he, who worked for our opportunities, cooking in a restaurant during the day and studying at night to pass the ever-so-important naturalization test. While he had less than three years of education, he was indeed the most intelligent and perfect man whom I aspire to be like.
The father of two and husband of the worst of wives, he strove for the best future for his two young children. He sent them to Catholic school, filled the house with more than enough of their favorite foods, made the warmest of homes, and was always there to support them in any way.
His only hobby and outlet was music. On Sundays, his day off, after his trip with my cousin to Chinatown, he often sat with his family or played with one of his seven instruments. I still remember the afternoons when I listened to him playing along to his favorite Chinese opera and the nights I waited for him to return from work. He passed away, but the memories will forever live within me.
He always encouraged me to work hard for what I deserve. Being a witness of his undying spirit, I've taken him as my idol, because he is greater than any super hero, athlete, or scientist. He was my uncle, a proud man who made the most of his life and certainly did all he could in his power for others. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.