I think it is true that we are each of us, the heroes of our own stories.
We go about our days, trying as best as we can to get by in whatever life situation surrounds us. Frequently mired in the minutiae of daily existence, tunnel vision takes hold amongst the laundry and the dinner making, the dog walking, the going to work, the paying bills and so on. I am luckier than most as far as responsibilities go. My life is essentially my own. Still on many days it is tough to look up and outward from where I sit. As someone who crafts stories, I like a hero to root for. We all do. The phenomenal success of summer blockbusters like the Avengers and Batman prove how hero starved we can be. I liked Batman. The Avengers was a good romp. But if I have to imagine a heroic archetype I prefer the every day guy, the underdog, the uphill climber. And I don’t have to look very far for examples in my own life. But unlike the caped crusader, my experience of hero today is wearing spandex cycling shorts and sweat as opposed to tights and a mask.
With hundreds of other heroes just like him, earlier this morning my friend Marc started his annual 600km bike ride from Toronto to Montreal in support of the People with Aids Foundation. This grassroots community organization exists to make a positive difference in the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. It pains me to accept that 30 years in, over 30 million people are still living with HIV/AID making organizations like PWA as necessary as ever.
Earlier this week, in the opening speeches of the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, probably the most salient point made was that AIDS the disease is caused by a virus, but the AIDS epidemic is not. The AIDS epidemic is fuelled by stigma, violence and indifference. It’s powerful stuff. And it’s true. We have treatment and vaccine. Yet, frequently forget compassion. Drug cocktails abound, but kindness and dignity for those who are sick are lacking. I know that a world without AIDS is possible in my lifetime. But, like every hero’s journey, seeing the end to the AIDS epidemic will be won one step (or pedal) forward at a time.
I often seek inspiration from my favourite writers and poets. These words from Rilke give me hope.
In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.
The world we desire can be won. It exists. It is possible. Now there’s a heroic sentiment if ever I heard one.
- If who we are is what we do, then like most people, I am a mixed bag of personas. Writer, bookworm, friend, are what first come to mind. Equally apt would be potty mouth, dog walker, Guinness drinker, swimmer, storyteller, political animal, baker and proud Canadian. Mostly though, I consider myself simply insanely lucky to have a small posse of near and dear ones who put up with me and my curvy, creative, curly haired, opinionated self. I started this blog several years ago with the idea to challenge myself in a myriad of ways. Years in, despite the sporadic entries, I still like to muse about the absurdity of life, what inspires surprises and angers me, books and other entertainments, my menagerie, my travels and any other notion buzzing round in my head.