Here’s a thought I’d like to share…
Heroism does not require us to live up to a larger-than-life image of the hero as superman or superwoman, only to become burned out, exhausted, and demoralized. Real heroism is not showing that you can handle anything and everything that comes your way. Rather, it is doing your own part, however humble that might be. Indeed, the heroic journey does not require you to become something greater than you are. It merely requires absolute fidelity to your own authentic path. ~ Carol S. Pearson
Regardless of your desire to be, or not be, a “hero,” we are each called to live our (in the words of Mary Oliver) “one, wild and precious life” in the best way we know how. And if we want to live that life authentically – true to our own heart – we will be required to dig, search, and discover what that uniquely means for us. This work can’t be done by anyone else or for anyone else. It cannot be handed to you as a child or dictated to you by a teacher. The work is yours alone. And that work, that ‘journey to authenticity,’ is nothing short of heroic!
This past Monday was my daddy’s birthday. He would have been 85. He was 52 when he died. I was 21. As I look back over his life, the idea of a hero’s journey comes to mind, but not in the classical sense. I have some wonderful memories of him, and I loved him dearly. But what I know of Daddy leads me to wonder if he ever really knew himself. He was always searching, always on to the next conquest, always unsettled. He called it “adventure.” I don’t think that’s what it was. I think it was unrest. No matter what it was, he was always somewhere other than where he was.
Don’t get me wrong, Daddy was an amazing person with great wisdom, and I value the untold number of lessons I learned from him. He was a gifted physician who helped countless people. But he lived in his head – a lot. It was difficult for him to live the lessons he taught because he taught from the heart while living from the head. That head/heart connection, that congruence, was elusive for him.
I think his heart often hurt, and I think he tried to remedy that hurt by “thinking” his way through it. This worked about as well as spinning your wheels when you’re stuck in the mud. The deeper he sank, the harder he spun. But there were times, when he and I had time alone together and the stars were aligned, that, with a palpable urgency heavy with sadness, he would encourage me to follow my heart and live as passionately as possible. In those moments, I believe I truly saw him – and he saw me. I think, more than anything, he wanted for me, and for all his children, to have what he spent his life searching for – a sense of freedom, a passionate life, and a whole-hearted existence.
So, whether or not Daddy had enough time on this earth to discover and live according to his own heart’s longings, he was heroic in his desire to do so. He never gave up searching for his own authentic path – no matter how misguided that may have been at times. He was called to seek… and seek he did.
It is the legacy of “seeker” he left to me. And for that, I am deeply grateful. Because of his journey, I am more equipped to know and be faithful to my own authentic path. I know this. And again, I am grateful indeed. Another gift Daddy left me was his belief in guardian angels. He always believed he had one, and now, I think he is mine. So, classic hero or not – he is a hero nonetheless.
Wishing you ease on your own heroic journey,