In this day and age, I’m looking for anchors, things to hang on to when the seas get rough. You know, quick words of encouragement or inspiration to deal with the political chaos and power struggles occurring in our society, whatever your leanings. To deal with the deluge of events, the drench of media. I’m looking for heroes. Or, if they are in short supply, perhaps it’s time we are our own heroes or, at least, our own cheering section.
While reading an L.A. Times article about the history of various buildings that have housed the newspaper, I learned of a motto the paper once used. It was written by Eliza Ann Wetherby who was a journalist herself and wife of the paper’s then-publisher Harrison Otis Gray. The Times motto?
Stand fast, stand firm, stand sure, stand true.
The motto seems appropriate for newspaper and media folk seeking facts and truth; for those expecting blowback and challenge.
I thought about the motto and how it might apply to individuals like you and me. I dug a little deeper into definitions via online and hardcover dictionaries:
Stand fast – be true to your principles, values, beliefs
Stand firm – be emphatic, resolute
Stand sure – have full confidence
Stand true – be or remain consistent
In other words, have the courage of your convictions. In some situations, it may be appropriate to remain steadfast. For example, among my core values, I believe in separation of church and state, ethical behavior, and the rule of law. But in some situations, it may be appropriate to be open and have strategies to serve the greater good. I would add three more points.
Be open to new thoughts, ideas, and change
Be open to negotiation and compromise
Be ready to peacefully coexist
End of “be your own hero” #1
While reading the book A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, I found a sentence that I could not forget.
“If a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.” Count Alexander Roston
Shortened, it means to control the circumstances of your life or they will control you. When things go awry, get out in front of them. Sometimes fate, luck, and destiny may interfere. It’s good to have a Plan B to be able to adjust. When I taught theatre, I encouraged the actors and crew to always have a Plan B … for the unexpected.
Think of an ordinary day you have perfectly planned – a hair appointment followed by lunch with a friend followed by an appointment for, say, an oil change. All you need is one flat tire anywhere in the mix to throw the day. That’s a boo-hoo circumstance. You call AAA and text whoever is affected and get on with it.
In Count Roston’s case, it was a lifetime circumstance – of house arrest. In other words, a serious challenge, a result of the political upheaval around him. He got out in front of it to survive. How he did so makes for an extraordinary read. He controlled his circumstance to the best of his ability.
End of “be your own hero” #2
The short story collection I’m assembling, working title Racing from the Dark, chronicles everyday people dealing with life, some more heroically than others. A tentative quote I’m considering for the book’s beginning comes from Anais Nin – author, essayist, and diarist (1903-1977) who offers another set of words I like.
Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.
We need courage, we need to take risks to grow. Each of us has personal challenges and we have challenges as a society. We want to ask ourselves what’s necessary to expand and enrich our personal lives and those around us. As a nation, we need to ask ourselves the same.
End of “be your own hero” #3
Seeking ways to be our own heroes, no matter the situations around us is an ongoing goal. If we’re all our own heroes, perhaps that aura will trickle upward, outward, and across society. We don’t want time to run out.
A few lines from this Native American blessing seem appropriate as we make our personal journeys, seeking heroes inside and out.
Hold on to what is good even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe even if it is a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do even if it is a long way from here.