Archive for December 23rd, 2010
“The hero task is apparent in the humblest of lives, especially in those who rise wearily and go off to demeaning labor to support their families. It is seen in the willingness of any person to sacrifice the creature comforts, narcissistic interests, personal agendas on behalf of a larger value. We do not customarily accord these persons hero status, but their acts renew the world each day, redeem it even, as a place of enduring value. In our narcissistic and superficial society, we transfer our own yearning for the heroic onto others, grant such status to movie stars, sports figures, celebrities of all kinds, all of which is a measure of how dismal is our understanding or our own daily summons to the task of individuation. We are all, every day, faced with death, depression and despair. Whoever rises to do what must be done, does a deed for us all.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p.60)
These men placing wires on new towers are just some of the men and women that Hollis talks about here, the real heroes. It makes one feel humble to realise that all that one takes for granted is only present in the world because of the many who trudge off to work in order for the rest of us to be gifted with the end results. Their work is that much harder because they don’t see the value to others in their work. They only see that the small wages that never seems to be enough for their needs and the needs of their families.
People such as this old woman do what they must each day. Being in China as a “laowai” I get to see the world differently. Old men and women pulling carts gathering cardboard, broken bits of wood, carrying grandchildren, washing clothes in cold water on the side of a street while the air hovers around the freezing mark. There is little room for complaining as that will not put food on the table.
With eyes becoming clearer, I now see my own heroic efforts as well as those of others that I know. My children are doing heroic work as they struggle raising families in a modern world in which they will never have all they desire. I see them worry and yet refuse to quit. My wife takes each day at a time doing what needs to be done while following me from country to country while I do a different kind of work.
And what is this work? It is my hope that in becoming a bit more conscious, I bring some value to this world, to my relationships, to my family, to the students I now teach in a foreign university, to the new acquaintances, and to you, my readers through this blog. It might not be much, but it is authentic.