Try waking up

Jeff didn't see this sign over his head, but I did.  Bar Harbor, June 2012

Jeff didn’t see this sign over his head, but I did. Bar Harbor, June 2012

“Anyone can slay a dragon…but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That’s what takes a real hero.” ― Brian Andreas

In June 2012, just three months before Jeff got the first of what would be several diagnoses of cancer, we were seated in a Bar Harbor restaurant looking forward to a nice meal after a day of exploring Acadia National Park.  I noticed the art hung on the wall above his head, and thought how appropriate it would be to have a photo of him sitting beneath it.  (He didn’t even realize the sign was there, or notice what it said.)

I had no way of knowing how prophetic that photo would be; how hard it would be for him simply to keep waking up every day over the next year and beyond, facing the grief, uncertainty, pain and physical trauma that go with cancer and its treatments.  What I did know already was that he was that kind of hero, one who would keep putting one foot in front of the other as long as he was able, not complaining or even saying much at all about his struggles and sorrow, just quietly keeping on.

Though most of us have difficulties that probably are not as obvious as his, all of us have to show that same heroic devotion.  Some days, it is far from easy to wake up and love the world all over again.  But somehow we do it, day after day, and in so doing, we unknowingly give each other the same strength we ourselves have drawn from heroic examples of perseverance.

I hope today is one of those days when it feels easy and happy and natural to love the world all over again.  But if it’s a difficult day for you, remember that being a hero seldom looks or feels thrilling and exciting.  That hidden, unnoticed sort of courage is all the more heroic, and the world depends on it.

One year ago today:

The quiet voice

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. This morning, Julia!
    Thank you for this inspiring piece.
    Two days ago, it reached sixty degrees, but now it’s snowing. I’m not sure if I might rather face a dragon….
    Oh, bother, I suppose I’d have to get out of bed to slay a dragon, too.
    If I had to choose, I’d rather get up and out of bed without a pending dragon, than with one….
    At least, I get to go for a walk with Sandy this morning in Minneapolis. That’s worth getting up for. And no dragons!
    Julia, I agree that Jeff was definitely a hero. I think you’re a hero, too.

    • Thank you, Susan…only if one has a very broad and generous definition of “hero.” Hope the long delay in getting to this comment means that your weather is finally creeping toward spring! Or at least will be soon. March is nearly over. It boggles my mind.

  2. Mike

    Another good quote to live by.

    • Thanks Mike!

  3. Judy from Pennsylvania

    I never met Jeff, yet your photo and words about that day and the hard days to come make me feel such compassion and admiration for him, and for you. Perhaps your taking this photo was providential and meant to capture a moment with a message that would be seen by his family for years and years to come. His is the face of unblinking courage. Yes, the face of a hero.

    I’m sure that someday your grandsons will find this photo and your note about it to be a precious family memory. I hope you print this blog entry out and tuck it somewhere will they will find it someday. It might inspire and encourage them. I’ve found some old photos and letters by my ancestors and they make me feel close to them. It’s a good feeling. I want to have the courage for life’s challenges that they had.

    • Thank you Judy. I agree with you that the photo (and his being seated there directly under that sign) was providential. I appreciate your suggestion about creating some relics or artifacts to leave behind, in case anyone ever is interested in them. My friend Pat E. who is ever-present here with us, had left me a similar suggestion weeks ago via a phone message I’ve been intending to return ever since then (if you are reading this, Pat, thanks! and I WILL get back to you as soon as I can). 🙂 I am torn between hoping that someday someone will care about whatever bits and pieces of an ersatz legacy I might leave, and increasingly realizing how unlikely it is that anyone will ever see or care about any of it. But hope springs eternal, as the old saying goes…

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