Quietly Heroic

Dahlias and sedum at twilight

It takes a good deal of bravery and skill to keep even a very ordinary life going. To persevere through the challenges of love, work and children is quietly heroic.
Alain de Botton, School of Life, Good Enough is Good Enough

I am surrounded by so much quiet heroism, in so many permutations and combinations. Love, work and children are significant, but by no means the sum of possible categories of life's heroic challenges. Here are some of the blessings and challenges faced by a bunch of lovely people close to me: Children, love and ill health. Uncertain work, love and giant projects. Being young, love, looking for work. Being young, uncertain health and love. Work, unrequited love and what is life all about? Getting older, uncertain health, work, love. Children, work, looking for love. Creative endeavours, uncertain work, love. Getting older, creative endeavours, uncertain health, being alone.

Every one of these splendid people gets up every day, steps out into the world and makes quietly heroic waves. Care for family, friends, colleagues, community, strangers, peace, justice. Hilarious stories, good cooking, being nice to cats. It all adds up.

Me: creative endeavours, uncertain work (they go together, somehow!), children, love. All the challenges and all the blessings.

To all of my quietly heroic friends and lovely readers - congratulations. And keep going :)

Talk to me about the combination of blessings and challenges you persevere through.. does it help to consider yourself quietly heroic? I feel very kindly towards any effort to elevate the significance of the minutiae of daily life to epic proportions. Because after all, it is what we do when we get up every day that creates a whole life, in the end..


Pam in Virginia said…
And you, Jo, are one of our greatest inspirations. Thanks!

simplelife said…
I am enough, has been my mantra today, since I saw this post this morning.
And yes life is what we do everyday, thise small barely noticed, until they aren't done little things that keep everything ticking along even amongst the big things that try to road block us. Thanks for writing this and making me take a different point of view.
Cheers Kate
Treaders said…
I'm certainly not heroic but I sincerely hope I can make it up to my kids for the hell they went through during my marriage. When I look back I think "what the hell did they have to live through" and yet they turned out so lovely. As for the "now" I am getting older, as we all are, but while I am alone I am not lonely. I have reconnected with my kids in a way that would never have been possible with my ex still here creating chaos. We have a good relationship and we laugh. I am so glad for my humour as it keeps my kids close to me. I know that sounds weird but I had a very young Russian colleague tell me today "I wish I had a mom like you" (as she was giggling away at one of my stupid stories). I guess the point I'm trying to make is, when you are older you don't have to impress so you can say what you really think - however irreverent that may be. Anna
Julie said…
Thank you. In the day to day business of caring for my mom, my job, my cats, and my house it is easy to forget that one is "quietly heroic."
Jo said…
Pam, thank you! I was so encouraged by that phrase, 'quietly heroic' that I wanted to share it with you all :)

Kate, that is so perceptive - 'the little things that aren't noticed until they aren't done' - yes, that is exactly what quietly heroic is. And yes, we are enough. Isn't that a hard thing to grasp? Well, it is for me..

Anna, ah, regrets. Yes. And yet, as Kate said, clearly, you have been 'enough' for your kids, more than that, their safe place. And they will take that on in their own families and provide safe places for others. Because they can see the difference it makes.. having a perfect family and upbringing is not necessarily the be all and end all of a good life, but always having a safe person who loves you and builds you up, that is gold.

Julie, yes, that is exactly why I felt I had to share this, to remind us all that the real business of life is the care that we give, as we quietly persevere in building up the people around us, and doing the job at hand. The kind of society we all want to live in depends on it.

GretchenJoanna said…
Thank you, Jo. I don't know what else to say.
Meg said…
Occasionally, when there is lot of stuff going on, happenings that need juggling, a tiredness or illness or just a crappy day and there's still dinner on the table at the end of it I will think to myself, "Yep! Bit of a superhero really!" While I don't own a cape, I do think there are many heroes who do ordinary stuff (and not so ordinary stuff) while their invisible capes flap in the breeze! Meg:)
Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna :)
Meg Hopeful, 'just a crappy day and there's still dinner on the table at the end of it' - oh, yes, that is the height of daily heroism :) Capes flapping indeed :)

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