Who are the heroes?
Wednesday was a day of freezing rain here. I took one crutch and my shopping cart and walked a very long way to the drug store and then to the supermarket. I returned with the cart full of food. It was a difficult and very painful trip. I only had two chances to sit and rest, both on a ledge outside the drug store. "Aren't you afraid your pants will get wet?" There are many things to fear, getting the seat of my pants wet is not one of them.
The trip took a few hours but when I finally pulled the cart up the final steps, through the cold and the rain, into my home I was a hero to myself. I had faced the crisis of no food, and now had food.
This may not seem like an important event, and it isn't. But it got me thinking about how some people, when facing a crisis in life survive it with reason and right action, and some don't.
I had a friend. I lost her to drugs. The poor girl was so desperate for it she would sometimes climb through the dope dealer's bedroom window to get it, thinking she wasn't seen. I sometimes saw her anyway. How she paid for the drugs I don't want to imagine. My last sight of her was escaping through the back yard, then getting into her car and driving away with her bag of dope. It stuck a knife in my heart. How could someone I once loved fall to such a level of decadence? I did the only reasonable thing I could. I moved on and let her be.
When I was a young man I picked up a venomous copperhead snake and threw it into a bucket because it was threatening some children who were camping.
I knew an old man who pushed his way into his hopelessly burning house to rescue his invalid wife. I met them both. I wrote about them in a previous journal entry.
I spent 4 nights and 3 days with an exposed nerve in my jaw. I have never known such pain before or since. It was a long Easter weekend, there was a severe snowstorm and there were no clinics open. The jaw cracked on Friday night and it wasn't until Tuesday morning before I could see the dentist. There was a taxi strike so I had to stand on a crowded bus. When the dentist looked in my mouth he said "You've been going through hell."
I knew a woman who had lost her sight and hearing when she was a teenager. Against all odds and advice she went on to earn a PhD and became a popular lecturer in the field of Psychology.
One January night I found myself on a strange street corner in Los
Angeles with all of my belongings in a suit case, a dime in my pocket and no place to go. I survived it.
I saw a team of fire fighters take a construction elevator up to 2 or 3 stories above a furious fire on the tope of a building under construction and jump down directly into the fire not knowing where they would land. We on the sidewalk watched in amazement.
Years ago, in a remote part of the country, I pulled two of my own teeth. It was a very painful and frightening experience but it was necessary at the time and place.
While preparing fire wood for the winter a Vermont farmer's chain saw slipped and cut severely into his arm. He shut off the saw and tried to remove it. He was unable to because it had lodged too deeply into the bone. So he restarted the saw, cut through the rest of his arm and holding it in his lap he drove to the hospital where they replaced it.
There are many stories of men and women facing up to one sort of crisis or other and solving them with acts pf courage, reason and righteousness, people who are real heroes to themselves or others.
The dope dealer mentioned at the beginning of this entry, the one with the open bedroom window, is a tall, strong, imposing fellow, but there is very little of the man about him. When faced with his own life crisis instead of solving it with courage and right action he collapsed into crime, selling illegal drugs, narcotics, dope. He will never be a hero to himself or to anyone else, except junkies, like my former friend.
Now who is the happier person? Is it the one who never has to face the extreme struggle of proving his or her worth against terrible odds, who never faces the dangers of survival in a frightening world, who never has to prove the genuine reality of manhood or womanhood but just lives a wasted life of pretense and paranoia? Or is it the hero?
That's a question that deserves to be addressed.
DB - Vagabond Journeys
Never Give Up.