If there is one marker that signifies "growing up," then I think outgrowing your heroes is probably it. I don't mean this in some fiddle-faddle philosophical or religious sense. I mean it literally.
No more, "what would Gandhi, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Mother Teresa, mother, father etc. do?" You've run out of praise and the willingness/ability to pass the responsibility buck. The only thing that makes any sense -- that's sense, not improvement -- is "what would/will I do?"
And it's enough to make you laugh that at just about the time when you start to run out of the energy and mewling that raises up one hero or another, the body and mind are growing listless and slack and how the hell are you supposed to meet this challenge when the fizz has gone out of the champagne left carelessly on the arm of the sofa?
Not that role models and heroes are sneered at. It's just that they are just models -- and models are not the real thing.
And if there comes a time when out-growing what might roughly be called "heroes" claims the day, how could what are roughly called "villains" be exempted? Villains are heroes too, don't you think? The ones who wounded you; the ones who tore up anything resembling a social or human contract ... Hitler or the devil or some wracking parent that clings and cloys out of the past and creates a guiding present.
TED talks and spiritual money-makers speak of "letting go," as if you could drop this carefully-assembled sack of praise or blame. But I think it is just a matter of outgrowing Jesus and Buddha and Hitler and the Holocaust and ... so ... just this once ... what would you do? Isn't the ground firmer here? Isn't the laughter real?
Yeah -- it's a pain in the ass knowing what I'd do with heroes and villains in the rearview mirror, but since I already know it, the burden is not that onerous.
Oh, grow up!
Not a bad mantram, however much I may hate it.