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Posts Tagged ‘Heroes’

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There is an electric fire in human nature tending to purify – so that among these human creatures there is continually some birth of new heroism. The pity is that we must wonder at it, as we should at finding a pearl in rubbish.

–John Keats

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I find myself nodding in agreement with the above words from the poet John Keats. It seems that there is ample evidence that humans have the desire and capability for living heroic lives. Yet to do so is a rare and wondrous thing.

A pearl in rubbish, as he says.

Maybe our failure is that we only see heroism defined in epic terms, not in the bravery of the responsibility that comes in making everyday decisions that opt for doing what is right and not expedient or self-serving. Not every hero wears a cape or jumps from buildings.

It’s a matter of perspective.

I think of when my mother was dying from cancer many years ago now. In her final months, she had a picture next to her bed of my father in a small cheap frame with press-on letters on the bottom leg of it that spelled out the word hero.

Now, hero is not a term I have often equated with my father, a man who is deeply flawed in many ways. I confess that, in this aspect, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.

But this was especially evident when it came to his relationship with my mother. Most of their life together was loud and contentious. They were always one word or a single side glance away from their next battle royale, the horror shows of mine and my siblings’ childhoods.

But somehow through the years of anger and adversity she still saw something in this man that she recognized as being heroic. Maybe it was that he had simply stayed, had maintained a sense of responsibility and caring for her that became very obvious in her last days.

I will never know for sure. The psychology of it all evades me. But that cheap frame on a dying woman’s bedside table with that word hero on it still lingers with me and always will.

It’s a matter of perspective.

I didn’t plan on writing this for today’s post, didn’t seek to be so personally biographical. It just came and I guess I can live with that. I only wanted to jot down a little something to introduce the song below for this Sunday morning music. It is one of my favorite David Bowie songs, Heroes, performed by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. I know it sounds like it should be a joke or a parody but it’s a wonderful version. I think my mom might well understand it.

Have a good day. Be a hero to somebody.

 

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Arthur Ashe HeroismKeeping up the theme that was the subject of an earlier post this week, I decided that for this Sunday morning’s musical selection I would play a lovely version of Heroes from David Bowie.  It’s an acoustic version (with Gail Ann Dorsey accompanying him on vocals and bass) from a 1996 performance at the Bridge School Benefit, an annual concert began by Neil Young to benefit the Bay Area school that helps kids with severe speech and physical impairments.  In that context, the song takes on additional layers of meaning as you see the many parents in the audience with their children, many cradling them.

Heroism.

Looking for an image to illustrate this post, I did an image search by punching in the word hero.  It was all superheroes and warriors which saddened me because I know that heroism is something far more than that.  It’s about doing those things that need to be done, about taking responsibility  in  order to serve a purpose beyond your own needs.  We think of it as a rare thing but it is evident every day in the actions of those people who give so much of themselves to others.

For me, an example of this came to me in a very personal way.  When my mother was struggling in the last months of her battle with cancer, I visited her for  last time.  Her and my father had been together for about 46 years at that point, years which could be described as turbulent at best.  For such a long married couple, they had an odd love/hate relationship which had them always on the edge of huge screaming  battles that were fraught with violence.  They were terrible things to see and even as a child I often wondered why they remained together.  But they did and as she neared the end of her life, Dad became her cook, her maid, her nurse,  and her driver to the many treatments that made up the last months of her life.  Her everything.

When I made my last visit, I noticed a photo on her bedside table.  It was photo of the two of them together from several years before, standing at some Florida site drenched in sun.  On the cheap little frame, underneath my father was a word formed in simple block letters, those type of things that you rub on from a sheet.

It was the word Hero.

Now, at that point in my life I didn’t see my father in heroic terms.  Far from it.  No, he was and is a very flawed human being with many traits that are far from any definition of heroism.  But in this case, he took on the form of a hero for my mother and in that moment, looking at that photo, for  myself as well. I realized that the word was not about great accomplishment but rather about following that need to serve another.

So it can be for everyone, as the song says :

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day

I finally came across the  quote at the top from the late Arthur Ashe that seemed to best fit the thought .

Have a great Sunday. Be a hero to someone today.

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