Now I know many of you don’t love being addressed as ‘hero’. And the critical reader might ask, if these letters are addressed to multiple people, can you really mean hero? Can you really believe that everyone is a hero, when so many people are so obviously unheroic? And the answer is, yes. I can believe anything. In the words of Neil Gaiman, “I can believe things that are true and things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not.”
I can believe the greatest joy in life is a pair of warm wool socks, that the best things in life are free, and that one of the basic laws of physics is that nothing that is fun costs less than $20. I can believe modern life has lost all sense of the sacred, that tradition is worth defending, and that the dive bar is simply the next evolution of the confessional. I can believe that books smell better after they’ve been well-read, that the internet is destroying the soul, and that the internet is the greatest invention of the last thousand years.
I can believe that everyone is infinitely more capable than they think and one yes away from greatness, and I can believe the heroes I meet were born into innate genius. I can believe that the stoics were right about controlling your reactions to the universe, and I can still bawl my eyes out and make a fool of myself at the cheesiest of romantic comedies. I can believe art is dead and the best authors are all in the past and still constantly fall in love with new books, movies, and artists.
I can believe that every day people are heroes worth celebrating and still lock my doors at night. I can believe the smallest act of courage is worth celebrating and the biggest mistakes can be swept under the rug of forgiveness in a second. I can believe that people should be held accountable for their actions and that sometimes the best way to hold someone accountable is to shrug it off and go to bed.
I can believe in everything. Which is not exactly the same as saying that I do believe in everything. But most of all, if I can believe in everything, even things so fundamentally paradoxical—
It means I can believe in you, hero. (And I do.)
May the road rise up to meet you!