I’m afraid my letter today is unusually dark. I do my best to always be the encouraging voice, the mentor who shows up just at the right time (especially at parties). But heroes have a habit of facing villains, and every now and again it’s my job not only to celebrate their journeys, but to help them face the great evils in the land. Rumors have come to my attention of an old enemy—a dark force, the worst of us humanity has to offer, some dark twisted magic—the old evil, that-which-must-not-be-named.
Yes, that-which-must-not-be-named. A great evil. Too many heroes have fallen prey, but not for the reasons you think—not for any sharp claws, fiery breath, or dark spells. Not for their twisted, conniving stratagems or evil master plan. Not even for their move-villain laugh or unfortunate haircut. No, they’re the darkest evil in the life of any hero for the simple fact that they have not been named.
See, a curious thing happens when we name the dark things in our lives—we have to face up to them. The fear goes from vague to certain; we go from putting off conflict to the future to being forced into acts of courage and bravery we’re not quite ready for. The magic of naming things for what they are is that they come into focus on our lives.
I’ve seen so many capable heroes die a thousand imaginary deaths living in fear of that-which-must-not-be-named. They quake in their boots, hide in their homes, lock every possible door, and await (with a great deal of trepidation) the day when that-which-must-not-be-named will come huffing and puffing to blow their house down. And as the year goes on, the fear of the uncertain grows and festers, becoming the dull ache in the back of the mind of the hero forced into early retirement.
See, that-which-must-not-be-named comes in every shape and size. And so long as it is unnamed, you have every justification for avoiding it. When the villains and darkness we face in life is undefined, it’s powers are limitless. And we give them permission to grow until they’ve convinced us that nothing we ever do will work.
When when we call that-which-must-not-be-named for what it really is—a villain, yes, but one that can be faced—it comes into focus. The things we fear go from vague, unimaginable uncertainties to the ordinary trials and tribulations of every great adventure. And it takes courage to name your fears, and courage then to face them—but isn’t that what being a hero is all about?
May the road rise up to meet you!