“We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day.” —Brad Meltzer, author
Heroes aren’t just for little boys with pillowcase capes tied around their shoulders. Even 40-somethings hold some to a higher standard and hope to “be like them” if we grow up.
And with the exceptions of Megamind and Metro Man, heroes aren’t born that way. Some of the most spectacular people I know are on the other side of a sucker punch, something unexpected or unplanned that landed them in a certain place through no choice of their own.
I don’t know all of them in the same way, but their stories share a sort of “Jane Eyre” element. This was a story about a means to an end. Jane led a graceful, messy, demanding and unfair life. She was dealt a bad hand, played it through, won some, lost some big ones. But in the end, love—blind, literally, as it was—still won.
• “Stories aren’t the beauty of what did happen. They’re the beauty of what could happen.—Brad Meltzer, author
They say that no matter how helpless a situation is, there is always a choice. And as long as you have a choice, you have power. Some use their power for good. And some manage to keep one eye on what could happen instead of what did.
If a manual were to be written on how to live through cancer, it would naturally be written by a Stage 4 survivor. Actually, it was and still is.
Michele Longabaugh (ihavebuttwhat.tumbler.com) managed to write through the lowest points of anal cancer. Her story is one thing, but to chronicle it all as it was happening takes it to a whole other level. If you need a new perspective, her story will bring it.
• “Just tell me how to be different in a way that makes sense.” —Stephen Chbosky, ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Some people learn to play the game for the sake of others. Susan Cain is an author who faked her way to being what everyone else told her she should be. This is one of those topics that only hits home when it hits your home. Like any subject imaginable—be it cancer, depression, divorce, illness, or a hundred other circumstances— experiencing it first hand redirects your perspective. It’s a game changer. And judgment finally stops.
This is how causes are born. It’s why Longabaugh works every day to bring more awareness to below-the-belt cancers. It’s why an Ohio senator changed his vote against gay marriage after his son came out as homosexual. And it’s why Susan Cain tours the “world that won’t stop talking,” explaining why introversion isn’t a condition to be “fixed” (ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html).
Relate to them or not, agree with them or not, they should be recognized for bringing light to things so we can see them a little clearer, even with second-hand eyes.
• “When you become a mom, the last thing you want to do is feel judged because everybody is trying to do the best they can,” —Jessica Alba, actress
Parenting is nothing new. But techniques for parenting are. How would someone from a couple generations ago react if questioned about their parenting techniques used when they raised their kids? Techniques? Was it as debated over 20, 30, 40—a hundred years ago? I’m going to guess no, it wasn’t.
Kids were raised and managed to survive. Maybe this ties into Cain’s “world that won’t stop talking,” but some days it’s hard to not feel like a complete failure as a parent, “in comparison.” Either kids are too independent too early or too dependent for too long.
While they are hitting specific marks of intelligence and growth according to either a scientific or social scale, or both; they had better excel in something. So, here’s to honest parents just trying to balance expectations with real life—our own and our kids’.
Maybe hero is a strong word in any of these cases, but if it’s going to be dropped anywhere, these are as good as any.