I am someone who is easily captivated by stories of fantasy and fiction. I love stories where someone comes and saves the day. I am on the edge of my seat during Superman and Lord of the Rings and the X-Men movies. I chew off fingernails as I read the adventures of Harry Potter, the Pevensie children, and a feisty fairy named Magpie. These stories are filled with heroes who save the day. Literally. And I eat up every minute of them.
Some of my friends know I am fond of saying that I think almost every story (okay, at least the ones I enjoy) has a bit of A Christmas Carol in it. Someone who doesn’t get it at all faces something, and as the person faces that “something,” the person suddenly gets it. Every year (not necessarily in December), I cuddle up on the couch and watch The Muppets’ Christmas Carol to be reminded of this very idea: A person who seems as though he may never “get it,” he has a story, and we can hope that some day he will be face to face with something that invites him to crack open and get it. (Oh and I also love, love, love the music in this version of this story. If anyone has the soundtrack, I would love to know where to get it.)
It is this realization, this understanding that is the awakening of the hero. I love how this happens in fantastical stories and in stories about every day people. Almost every good story has a character who fits the Ebenezer Scrooge definition. And this is the part where I admit that I believe we have a little of Scrooge in all of us. The ego that must take a breath and realize everything isn’t all about us. That even though our story has brought us to where we are, we make a choice to write the next page.
There is a story by Brian Andreas that hangs in our bedroom above our dresser. It is a framed print called “Real Hero.” It is about the idea that real heroes are people who get up every day and live their lives. I bought this for Jon to let him know that I honor his feelings that life can be hard, hard, hard. That sometimes it can be so challenging that everything seems like it can go wrong. But that the hero inside each of us is what gets us up every morning to face it again anyway.
On Monday, when Jon and I left a doctor’s office, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and scared. As we waited for the elevator, a woman in a wheelchair was ahead of us. I was so in my head, in my fears, that I could feel myself trying not to notice that she did not have any legs. Her hands were enclosed in leather, fingerless gloves, and she operated her wheelchair on her own.
I believe that the situations we are in are relative to what we know and who we are. So of course, it is easy to think, “well, at least I am not her.” The “at leasts” that fill up space. Although they may have merit, we run the risk of walking a line of pity, which is, for me, a waste of time. Pity. Not a word that resonates. But understanding. Yes. This is what I seek. And, of course, to be understood.
In the five days since the not-so-great doctor’s appointment, I have thought about this woman. No matter her story, she is someone who gets up every day and does it again. And again. And again.
I can hope that no matter what life hands me now and in the future, I will try to follow this same path. Get up. Do it again. Go to bed to rest a while. Repeat. And in the midst of this living, I hope when I am face to face with whatever stands in my path that I will be willing to crack open. To let go of the ego that it is all about me and learn. To make a choice to write the next page of my story. And then, yes, repeat.
(to read the writing of others who responded to this prompt, visit sunday scribblings)