I’ve just finished reading Christopher McDougall’s latest offering, Natural Born Heroes. (Review forthcoming.) The central tenet is: you can’t always tell a hero just by looking at him. The strongest fighter? The girl who can outrun everybody in the field? The guy who can traverse a forbidding mountain range in the dead of night on nothing to eat but weeds and acorns? They don’t look like much. They become who they are and capable of what they can do out of necessity, innovation, or sheer bloody-mindedness.
You can’t build resolve like that. You can’t engineer ingenuity. You don’t unlock the secrets of human potential on a whim or by mistake. These things only happen when we eschew the trappings of the modern world, when we cut through the nonsense of our capitalist culture, when we tap into what makes us who we are, what we evolved to do.
Which is, to survive.
But it’s more than that, more than just being. We are human beings, but it isn’t being that makes us human; it’s our doings.
Each of us has within ourselves vast, untapped reservoirs of potential and energy. Everybody knows (or at least suspects) that they could do this or that unbelievable thing. (I could write the next great novel. I could run a marathon. I could quit my job and go herd goats. I could go and ask that girl/guy out.) But most of us don’t do those things. We allow them to remain unbelievable and go on just surviving. Which is easy! But it doesn’t put our names in the history books.
So let me stop myself before I get carried away on a tidal wave of my own ego. I’m not saying my name is going into the history books thanks to anything you might read around here. But there’s a slew of sayings on this particular subject:
You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.
You can’t hit a home run without swinging the bat.
You can’t hit a target that isn’t there.
And with that in mind, this is me taking this opportunity to remind myself that this blarg, this past two years of writing novels and letting the voices in my head take the reins and spill over onto the page, of exploring the vast uncharted recesses of my storyteller brain, is me trying to tap into my inner hero.
Did I actually say that? Yeah, sure. Storytellers are heroes of a sort. We connect through stories. We live expansive alternate lives through stories. We learn to appreciate others through stories. And at their core, stories tell us about who we are.
We can be heroes.
We just have to take that chance on ourselves.
This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.