What is true heroism? Is it in the great acquisitions of life? Is it in the grand reputation gained? Is it in the prevailing power secured? Or is it in the saving of a life? Is it in living for a life? Is it in living through the pain? Is it in rejecting death when confronted by it? Is it in living in spite of it all?
It may be all of the above. Some are more in keeping with the spirit of heroism and others are less so. It may be less of what is acquired and more of what is learned. It may arise more from within than without. It may be in the surviving rather than in the material enriching. It may be in the holding on rather than in the giving up. In all that, there is a pinch of heroism here and there.
But at its core, heroism for the purpose of this writing is the impulse to not give in to the impulse to give up. It is the resistance to all resistance to the continuation of life. It is choosing to live notwithstanding the droning of the monotonous present. It is the courage to confront a deadpan existence and to walk on by and to keep on walking on by. This is the heroism of continuing on. It is the heroism of living for living sake.
It is enduringly heroic because there is a stinging nag to the ordinariness of life. It is the routine of a life without surprises. Nothing unfolds itself. Nothing is revealed. Nothing is new. Has somebody just murdered the quirky Jack in the box of life?
Everyday goes by in a recycle of the unchanging. The present differentiates itself not from the future and the past exists by sheer default. It is no different from a life lived between intermissions where one does not know when it all first started and when it will all finally end. It is a life in discontinuity, no less in disarray and no more in certainty.
How does a life fit in here, in this rut of existence? Where is the heroism in the bowels of ordinariness? Where is the glory? Where is its prize? Oh, surely there is. Surely there is. And there is much to learn from such a life; which in quietude, it lives on; in solitude, it finds calm and in destitute, it weaves meaning.
A life like this is not to be underestimated. It is not to be derided. It should in fact be embraced because it draws its passion, strength and fortitude not from events most fleeting. It is consistent. It is unpretentious. It is dependable. It shuns a mob stirred up by the polemic of a fiery preacher. Its nerves are not jangled by the gravitational pull of an immersive ideology. Neither is it beholden to the wiles of worldly enchantment nor the whimsical spike of a transient mood.
In everything, it accepts with a cool resolute, an unfazed and unhurried disposition. Somehow, this life stands on a rock from within and remains unmoved by events without. Although it is not immune from debilitating emotions, which stretches with intemperance, it is not defeated by them. Its greatest virtue is to carry on carrying on. It persists in persisting. It is insistent on insisting. Such is the distilled value of heroism. It is the heroism of facing the dread, accepting the dread and releasing the dread.
It is a life worthy of my adulation because time is not perceived as a bondage or a chain but an opportunity. It is therefore not a sentence to be served out but a life to be lived out. It is an opportunity embodied to live fully and experientially. To savor the little things that make up life. To marvel at the apparently plain but most empowering fact of just being alive. And to live with unremitting gratitude until the day this stubborn but resilient life draws its last deserving breath and passes away quietly.
But the heroism of such exit is not in the way it ends. It is in the privilege it enjoys while alive for living to the fullest with undaunted contentment, most valiant and most unspoiled. Now that's the heroism of continuing on. And often, such a life receives no standing ovation, no flowery eulogy, no grand send off, no posthumous mention in books, plays or movie deals. It leaves this world very much like a mist would leave its ether host. But for the discerning, for those who are taking the road less traveled, their absence resonates deeply with them because such a heroic life shrinks not when it is called to answer the primary duty of humanity. It is the call to live and to live on. Cheerz.