The brave of our world are not always the ones making the grand gestures, racking up the big achievements or bringing in the new with trumpets and a parade. Sometimes it seems as though we’ve decided that only that which is loud or can easily be seen by all is of importance. But this kind of focus can stop us from noticing a type of courage that is less likely to make it to the spotlight but which shines very brightly in the more understated areas of life. So without touching the well-deserved laurel wreaths that some of our history’s and current big heroes wear, I would like to send, if they let me, just a little bit of love in the direction of our more overlooked heroes to whom bravery comes as a part of everyday life.
The type of bravery that moves these people is a quiet sort of gallantry; a gentle, unassuming sort of courage with a naturalness that doesn’t allow much in the way of acknowledgement. Because of how they operate I suppose it is no wonder that these hidden heroes often escape our attention, but once we start to notice them they can change how we approach life forever.
With their subtle ways they can open our eyes to the fact that significance lies not in the grandness of events but in the manner in which we take care of any part of our lives. In a very real way I see them as helping to support the foundation of that which is peace and compassion in this world.
Where we find these keepers of peace and bringers of modest joy is in places we often hurry passed or in some cases don’t like to look at all. These individuals work their magic in the uniform of a waiter who maintains his cheerful disposition no matter how many customers complain about their food. Sometimes we see these people hanging from garbage trucks, humming a tune that is destined to be carried off into the distance by a thick odor of decaying foods, making it somehow sound even more melodic. They are the strangers that offer us a ride without us asking even though where we’re going is totally out of their way. These people are the teachers who take their work beyond the classroom and curriculum because there is always a child that needs some extra attention.
In some parts of the world these heroes come to us in the form of a poor person offering to share their food with us just because we look a bit peckish, even though what they have barely makes up a meal for themselves.
They are the people in our surroundings who have us wondering how it is possible that no matter how we show up we are always welcome in their home. The ones that when we’ve seriously overstayed this welcome by any standard still feel no need to indicate to us where the door is located. They are the neighbours who come to help us around the house when we are unwell. And who make sure to clean all the dusty corners of our bedroom just so we get some extra healing sleep. We find these brave souls in the form of those rare humans that are excited about tomorrow even if today seemed to do all it could to keep them from a state of light-heartedness.
Ever notice how feeling gloomy around those beings is an absolute impossibility? They are the same sort of humans who make it a point to see the best in others even if some people’s faults seem more on display than their qualities. It is in this way they make it very hard for us to show the worst of ourselves.
If we’re lucky we also meet them on train stations as the person who comes back down the stairs to help us with the luggage we’re struggling to carry up them while the rest of the world is rushing past us. They are also the colleague at work who always readily takes on the tasks that only seem important when they are left undone. The fact that none of their efforts ever gets them an employee of the month accolade has little relevance to them.
In other instances they are our grandmothers, lying in a hospital bed after a fall, barely able to move a muscle and with little hope of improvement yet still somehow managing to carry their situation with a sense of dignity and peace. I admire you so.
All these people, just by doing what comes natural to them, show us how we can live our lives with just that bit of extra grace that makes all the difference. And when we meet them, regardless of how aware of it we are, their actions help bring out the courage that lives in all of us.