When I’m doing something I’m afraid of, which is admittedly most of the time, the way I do it isn’t pretty. It’s certainly not heroic. I struggle through. I’m a sobbing mess. You may not be able to see that part, but it’s true. That may be partly why it feels so funny to have been named one of More magazine’s 50 Fiercest Women in America. Fierce people are cool. They can do ten things at once. They are fearless. They are never perturbed. I’m in a general state of perturbance.
For a long time I felt bad about me and my general state. Shouldn’t I be doing this better? Now I’m realizing that there are a lot of people just like me, and it’s perfectly okay to be perturbed.
Fierce people don’t have to be heroic. Being a hero is unattainable, at least for most of us. Heroes are fictional characters. They show up at the exact right moment, fully prepared, chests puffed out, ready to go. They have invisible planes!
When I think of heroes, the visual that comes to mind is the video “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions”. Have you seen it?
I don’t know about you, but I’d look back. I’d run, screaming all the while. In fact, I wouldn’t really go near a place where explosions might be happening in the first place. I am solidly anti-explosion.
The poet David Whyte tells a story of backpacking in Nepal. This is a guy who has traveled the world and done all sorts of daring things in his life. One day, though, he comes to a bridge over a chasm he must cross to get to his destination. The bridge is partially out – one side has fallen. So he sits down because there’s no way he’s going across that thing. He explains that he wants to be able to walk across the bridge easily, in full glory, but he can’t. He’s afraid. So he sits. Along comes an old peasant woman and she passes him by and marches straight across the damn bridge. This convinces him he can cross, which he does, but not happily. Not at all happily. As he describes that moment in his life and how, quivering, he crossed the bridge, he says, “The hero in you sits down. The part of you that limps is the part that takes you across the bridge.”
The part of you that limps is the part that takes you across the bridge. Thinking you need to be a hero or change the world or make great strides or save lives or revolutionize things sounds impossible. Those things seem like things only special people, only heroes can do. You’re not fearless like that! To be fierce, though, sometimes all you have to do is limp across.
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