My son looks fierce in the photo above. He happens to be one of the most intense people I know. He also happens to be one of the sweetest and most sensitive. He possesses an interesting combination of bravado and softness that amazes me daily. Like many of us, for a time, he wanted to be a superhero.
We could list all the superheroes of the Justice League and the Avengers and SHIELD. We could even talk about the Transformers and Spiderman. Believe me, with my hubby and three boys, I have seen all the movies. But…
What does it take to be a superhero?
The hero’s willingness to face adversity and fight for a better tomorrow is probably even more important than all the amazing super powers one could possess. Each one exhibits deep compassion and amazing courage.
I am not at the level of a superhero; I do not have spider venom in my blood, nor am I weakened by Kryptonite. I do not wear a skintight full body costume or a cape. And, although I’m not generally needed to save the Universe, I too have found myself in situations that require me to muster some major courage. Where does the courage come from?
“Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing.”
~ Optimus Prime
In my experience, courage arises as a response, not a reaction, usually to a situation where I am way past my edge, past my normal capacity to deal with what’s happening. A challenging situation arises. I feel vulnerable. It becomes clear to me that there are two options:
Respond with Courage – OR – React like a Victim.
To respond with courage requires us to take a deep breath, really focus on the situation at hand and gather our forces. A higher level of mindfulness and intention is helpful as well as determination; we realize that destiny is in our own hands, no rescuer is coming. We do what we can with what we have. We “put our boots on” and “roll up our sleeves” – maybe literally, maybe figuratively. We get to work.
To react like a victim often involves lots of “passing the buck” and making excuses. This is not exactly the expedient approach to one’s highest self.
One of the times in my life when Fate called upon me was a few years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer. Wow. Instant vulnerability. Immediate confrontation with one of my greatest fears. If ever there was a time for me to take a really deep breath and dig really deep within, this was it. However, while the diagnosis made me feel vulnerable emotionally and psychologically, I wasn’t physically vulnerable until I went through surgery and chemo. That’s when I felt truly stripped down to my most naked self. Then, from there, everything about me was fundamentally changed, and I rebuilt from the ground up. I knew I had to fight – there was no other option – I had to find the fortitude and determination to go on the journey, to fight, to learn, to heal. “I have faith in my body’s ability to heal” was one daily mantra; “With Grace and Grit I begin each day” was the other one. I chose to approach the situation from a place of empowerment, to respond with courage.
“You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”
~ Brene’ Brown
In the comic books, the superheroes often wear some sort of costume that masks their true identity. Often we do the same. Yet, this transformative experience taught me that it is when I am most unabashedly myself that I am also my most courageous. Along the way, I’ve learned that it takes courage to:
speak your Truth
ask for what you need
forge ahead into the unknown
show restraint and compassion when it would be easier to “raise fists”
to “raise fists” when necessary
to do what is right rather than what is easy
try again tomorrow… and again tomorrow
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but on is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”
~ Maya Angelou *
As that dark night of my soul eventually dawned into a bright new day, I realized how much I was transformed by this crucible: both strengthened and softened. Filled with compassion for myself and those around me and with new-found courage to face whatever adversity came into my life, it dawned on me…
I too had become a superhero.
And all it took was a little courage.
~ Invitation ~
Do you find it takes courage to be yourself?
Do you find that you are most courageous when you are in integrity with yourself?
Under what circumstances have you discovered your own well-spring of courage?
How did that experience bring you in touch with you highest, most courageous self?
*Rest in Peace, Maya Angelou.
You were an amazing woman and a model of courage, a true Superhero.
I am a wife and a mom, a yogi, an artist, and a writer… but not always in that order! I tend to think in collage and have trouble starting my day without coffee (black). I am a contemplative and a seeker on this wonderful, odd trip that is this human life. I love to have adventures and detest fences of any kind. Dedicated to my journal, I blog part-time at www.vignettesfrommylife.blogspot.com