Anna Fisher, astronaut, with stars in her eyes on the cover of Life magazine in 1985. She was the first mother in space. (via The 60 Most Powerful Photos Ever Taken That Perfectly Capture The Human Experience)
And during a retrospective clip on heroes, it becomes quite clear that the female voice is well overdue to become a mighty roar - one to resonate with the power to shatter mountaintops.
Sometimes reading about heroes is an exercise in the bittersweet, so easily does the heart thrill to the narrative arc, and so quickly does the mind recognize it all to be fiction. That disharmony, desire warring with the seemingly static, can hint at a sorrow that is akin to witnessing a bird in flight - consistently a window’s view, the audience seat, watching wings make the horizon attainable. A majesty unshackled, form and function made beautiful in its fluidity. It’s a power we’ll never know, never feel - hands will never stretch out into feathers touching the breeze.
We must resign ourselves to being earthbound yet we can still learn from the sight, still draw inspiration from the keen-eyed resolve, from the metaphoric perspective. A fraction of the magic to absorb and make our own.
So it is with the tales and legends of the armor-clad and caped, the peacekeepers wielding weapons of fire, light, and wit. Each story tells us something about the world and about ourselves, knowledge wrapped in the make-believe but made accessible and cogent through words that swiftly hit their mark. The heroes make us cheer and weep, and in so doing, they teach us to be human, and extraordinary in our own right.
We may never see the wonders their worlds boast with our own eyes, may never experience their particular might and prowess within our own limbs, but we can take from the heroes a piece of courage, a measure of confidence, a portion of empathy. Thus we are able to take flight, after a fashion, because of their influence.
Women daredevils of the early 19xx’s and their motorcycles, from the book The American Motorcycle Girls: 1900 to 1950 (GV1059.52 .S55 2009 Quarto).
Pictured from the top: Easter Walters, Margaret Gast, Doris Gray (and Barney Page), Marjorie Kemp & Kemp’s Motor Maniacs, Mickey Apple, Viola Pelaquin, Cookie Ayers Crum, Louise Scherbyn, Dottie Herbert, Cookie Ayers Crum.
“Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.” - C.S. Lewis.
When we find in our heroes something familiar, some quality or trait that we recognize in the shape of our own hearts, we become better able to acknowledge our potential for greatness.
It may not be the stuff of dungeon crawls or magical relics, of dragons guarding hoards or sages doling out quests. We may not be wielding swords or harnessing magicks, but sometimes the bravest act we can perform is to wake and greet each day. To meet the challenges eye to eye, to learn from our mistakes, to discover something new no matter how minuscule it may seem, to cherish the small measures of joy even if the sorrows seem the greater weight, to battle our demons, to look into the mirror and accept that we are works in progress.
Each day holds a promise of victory, another chance to be our own hero, another moment to propel forward to something better.