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You Can Become A Minor Hero…

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Every week we are bombarded with yet another new superhero, caped or masked, leotarded or graphite-enshrouded.

Movie and TV screens are filled to the brim with “superheroes”… imaginary beings that save the world… save civilization, save the universe.

Superheroes aren’t really my jam, aside from the quirky Deadpool, who is the weirdest, anti-hero hero. Anyone who makes me belly laugh is inducted into my hero club.

But I prefer to spend my mindspace real estate on real-life, often “minor” heroes.

Since Ukraine has been under attack, I find myself wholly intrigued and mesmerized by Volodymyr Zelensky, a totally unexpected, shockingly surprising hero. A real-life capeless hero.

I know from reading countless Facebook posts over the years that most of us are inspired and lifted by the day-to-day real-life heroes out there. We revere heroes.

The Huffington Posts posits that there are 6 kinds of real-life heroes…. maybe there are more, I don’t know.

  • The Warrior Hero.
  • The Protector Hero.
  • The Healer Hero.
  • The Master Hero.
  • The Leader Hero.
  • The Teacher Hero.

There’s a pretty good chance that you’re one of these. I hope so. You may not even realize it.

There’s a common thread running through these real-life heroes, it’s called…

INSPIRATION

They show us what we can attempt to be as humans and inspire us to become better versions of ourselves. Minor heroes.

My Walter Mitty inner-persona sees myself aspiring to become a saviour of the downtrodden, a visionary to those who need inspiration and hope.

It’s largely a mirage, but an aspiration nonetheless. It takes aspiration to make inspiration to take action.

Real heroes are the people who do little or large things, unexpected things, everyday things, that leave the world around them better or preserve lives.

The best heroes to me are often normal people who scarcely notice how extraordinary they are, often overlooking their contributions because they were never presented with an official cape by the mayor of Gotham City. Humility and heroism are twin virtues.

Becoming a hero is often not a choice, it’s thrust upon us and we must decide if we can or will surmount our personal worries and fears.

Volodymyr Zelensky is the latest, greatest example. There are countless others, in Ukraine and all around the globe, that we never hear about who are saving lives, or making lives better with what they do for little or no recognition.

Take that Vladimir!

Big wars make minor heroes into major heroes (and minor villains into major villains)… small people of all genders and ethnicities and belief systems that rise to the occasion.

Zelensky may – I hope – triumph in his unasked-for quest, or, he may perish and become a martyr, a chapter in a history book like Martin Luther King or Ghandi.

There are Ukrainian heroes, Afghan heroes, Syrian heroes, Jewish, Atheist, Baha’i, Muslim, and Christian heroes… even Russian heroes. Far off and right next-door heroes.

I chop vegetables and make sandwiches a few days a month alongside a longtime friend, a lady at the soup kitchen who birthed 5 kids, two with Cystic Fibrosis. Tough stuff, yes?

Today, retired and all her kids grown: one child has died, one has had a double-lung transplant, another has lupus and heart problems, her husband had a heart attack last year.

Can life get any more difficult for one person? Of course it can, but it’s the fact that she courageously shoulders this life without public complaint, with a cheery smile, and a desire to help others that makes her a hero in my view. A minor hero but a hero still.

Not everyone has to become a big hero. The world needs a major hero from time to time… a Churchill, a Mother Teresa, a Zelensky.

But even more, the world needs an army of minor heroes, or people making daily attempts to make the world a better place with unselfish acts.

And if you look inside yourself, there’s probably a hero buried there too.

I’ll never be a big hero, never a Zelensky, never a Churchill, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Ghandi, or Dalai Lama… the kind of hero who forgoes all rational grasp-holds of safety. I’m merely “Yoda-trying” to find my inner minor hero.

I’ll leave you today with just a few ideas about how you can sew your own cape (maybe don’t squeeze into the leotard, OK?) and become a minor hero in your world…

  • Perform random acts of kindness. 
  • Shovelling your neighbour’s snowy driveway for them.
  • Helping to pay a student’s tuition.
  • Buying lunch for a depressed friend.
  • Buying groceries for someone in need.
  • Taking an elderly neighbour to an appointment.
  • Volunteer your time. 
  • Help build houses with Habitat for Humanity for low-income families.
  • Join a gleaner’s group.
  • Get involved with your neighbourhood clean-up committee or watch group.
  • You don’t always have to volunteer in an official way. You can offer to help a friend move or give up some time to listen when a family member is in need of emotional support.
  • Use small gestures. 
  • Even offering someone kind words can help you grow as a hero. Smile and say thank you to service workers.
  • Bring a friend a fresh flower.
  • Write your mail person a thank you note.
  • Offer your seat on the bus or subway to a pregnant woman, an elderly person, or someone with a cane or crutches.
  • Send a family member a surprise email or text telling them something they did in the past that made you feel good.
  • Promote the Good rather than Oppose the Bad 
  • Attend a “pro” rally instead of an anti-demonstration. Pro-peace, pro-immigrant, pro-BLM or pro-LGBTQ.
  • The most successful, heroic people focus on the positive. 
  • Volunteer Your Treasure
  • Donate a portion of your income (or blood) to help others – people, animals, projects in need.

GRATITUDE My Friend, GRATITUDE

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Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun, do, dun, do, do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right

…………………………………………………..

It’s almost December… now, without eating some magic mushrooms, in your wildest dreams, did you ever think your 2020 would look like this?

Without running a half marathon or swimming across a lake this year, I’m feeling exhausted and beat up –

– yup, beat up from the searing southern political winds of the last 4 years of alternative truths, anger and bitterness; this main course capped with a dessert serving of an almost year-long bout of a once-in-a-century viral tsunami. (Early Warning: I hate to offend, so if Donald Trump is/has been your beacon of hope for the world, you might want to check out of this post now).

Neither of these events have run their course yet, but a balmy breeze is showing hopeful signs of blowing over us in the near future. Once more, small gusts of hope are in the air.

I’m feeling a petite surge of idealism that was fading in my heart.

I suspect you likely feel much the same as me even if your political bent may not lean in the same direction as mine.

I woke up in the early morning hours last night feeling grateful and even a little inspired by this warm sensation (Larry, I hope you checked to make sure the warmth wasn’t something else?)

I’ve been writing this little self-discovery/self-indulgent blog for more than 8 years and 442 weekly posts…

… throughout, I’ve tried my best to root out a positive approach in my writing and my inner thinking, but I’ll freely admit to you, this past year of cynicism, irritability, and rampaging disease has been hard. REALLY HARD. And I know I’m a lucky one who has had no degree of suffering compared to so many others… perhaps you even.

But, I’m feeling so damned hopeful right now. A vaccine is on our doorstep. The hardened Trumpian view of the world as a series of covetous fiefdoms where each (country) works his/her/their hardest to improve only their own lot in a dog-eat-dog fashion is slipping.

The frightful tidal-wave has dwindled a teensy weensy bit.

Why is this hopeful? Shouldn’t we want the best for ourselves and our children and neighbours? Of course.

But MY neighbours and my neighbours children aren’t only those who live on my block, my province, my country.

My wife and I have travelled to many areas of the world and happily found that people are… people… those who don’t speak my language, share my religious beliefs, share my skin colour, my education or gender views, are, and should rightfully be entitled to my respect (so long as they respect my culture and beliefs as well.. and my personal experience is the great majority are very respectful).

My friends in Peru, or Brazil, or Germany, or China, India or Morocco, my refugee friends from Syria.. they all want a secure house to live in, nutritious food and education for their children, jobs and peace. They all want a vaccine as soon as possible to protect their family’s health the same as me and you.

Surely, with easy communication and technology we can see that the world is by nature and necessity, growing closer and closer together and not further apart. With care, there are enough resources and intelligence on this blue planet to give us all ample food security, safe housing, education, equality.

To give to you does not mean that you take away from me. If you prosper, and your neighbour prospers, the likelihood that I will prosper increases. If you have a good job, you will likely buy something from me or my next door neighbour. If you have peace in your backyard, there is less chance that my grandchildren will have to fight a war in their lifetimes.

I didn’t want to give a lecture or a sermon here (really? a sermon from an atheist, come on Larry!), but rather a simple message of hope as we enter the last few weeks of this so so momentous year, both to you and to me.

And so, with gratitude and hope, I want to thank you for this year.

I’m grateful that you’ve taken a few precious moments out of your Sundays, or whichever day you happen to drop by, to listen to my thoughts and ideas. Agreeing, or disagreeing. The fact that you check in buoys me.

I’m grateful for your comments on this blog site, or on Facebook, or in a personal e-mail. I read and appreciate every word, every thought you share back.

Ah, here comes the sun… Oh, what a lucky Man on the Fringe… I am.

And finally friends, here’s a little early Christmas recipe (tune) I whipped up for you in my musical kitchen this week (please listen through earbuds or headphones!)… sing along, you’ll improve my voice…. (if Mariah Carey can show some skin, why not ME! LOL)

Our Hope For New (Corona) Spring

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spring blooms

Apocalypse… Armageddon… End of Days…?

Nah, don’t think so…

Of course – full disclosure – I am the world’s very worst prognosticator, so perhaps if buying up all the toilet paper that every old-growth forest tree can produce is your greatest worry… you may NOT be the only one breathlessly laid out in ICU without clean underwear.

SORRY, I don’t want to be flip or callous or understated… because…

The world will change. Again.

We live in an era of fear and growth.

They’re reaching out to us and we have to choose which hand to hold.

For those of us of a certain age, we watched our black and white console TV sets in November 1963, and after wiping away our tears as JFK’s casket lowered into the earth, discovered a new world that, even with moon launches and high technology, reminded us that mankind will never be totally civilized… EVER. We are animals.

Another day a few decades after, we all woke up, watched a couple of huge iconic buildings tumble and then unwrapped a brand new world post 9/11… the day that airports and airline travel stopped being a relaxing joy.

A year from today, the world will hum along once again, restaurants will buzz, stores will stock up and fill up. Smiles and sanity will return like spring blooms. Most things will have the air of normalcy.

normalcy

EXCEPT.

New normalcy.

It will be a new normal. Countless things will change going forward.

Dickens knew his present, and our future.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …”

We will move on from this winter of despair to a new spring of hope.

Surely, it will affect how we interact (will hugs and handshakes disappear?), it could result in the elimination of cash usage… will we crowd into stadiums and theatres and airplanes in the same fashion as always? … will the cruise industry sail on or sink? … how many major conferences will crowd a hundred thousand folks into a Vegas warehouse?

virtual handshake

Think of greater use of robotics and drones and virtual classrooms.

Any major disruption brings out new industries and productive uses of technology that we would have never dreamed of.

And if you think that Amazon ruled the world before?  It’s only beginning (note the hidden hot stock tip!).

We are science’ing the S**T out of this calamity and it will bring us into another new era going forward.

Covid-19 is creating a whole new set of heroes (and more than a few A-holes).

Every situation of stress and tragedy brings out the “sinkers” and the “swimmers”, beautiful heroes and ugly villains.

Fear tests us like nothing else… just look at those who receive a cancer diagnosis and find a magical inner strength they never knew existed… everyday heroes.

World War 2 sunk Chamberlain and Hitler… while Churchill walked on water across the English Channel. We need a lot of Churchills, and we are fortunate to get them when we need them most.

Soon the peak shall pass and we’ll move forward individually and collectively.

And yes, there will be more Black Swans that viciously attack and pummel us to our asses when we least expect it.

But sure as shootin’, we will confront and overcome the obscure monsters again and again. Freddie Mercury was right… WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS my friends…

OK… let’s all hug (NOT) and … damn… how about a toilet paper exchange?

toilet paper out