The DNA of writerly heroism.

This quote comes from the last line of the Acknowledgments section in Leif Enger's gorgeous novel, So Brave, Young, and Handsome, and as such, it is the very lastest line in the entire book.

And I am a total sucker for last lines.

Leif Enger's ingredients for heroism: patience, curiosity, a refusal to panic. |

Isn't that a wonderful definition? Three things we need in the writing process, or heck, in any process. Healing from a long illness. Traveling. Cooking anything more complex than a PBJ. Raising children. Or even being an introvert at a party. (Yes? Anyone? Or am I the only one who feels like I'm drowning slowly?)

Patience, curiosity, and a refusal to panic.

They sound like such gentle traits, but the more I look at them, the more formidable (and desirable!) they seem. 

Here's the thing: some days (most days lately), this does not exactly describe me. Take, oh, take yesterday

Yesterday I was the poster child for desperation, closed-mindedness, and a readiness to fling myself into an emotional whirlpool. 

(None of those were on Enger's list. Dang.) 

Too often, when life is being chaotic and crazy and harrowing, or in other words, life is just being lifey, I am a mad mess. Itchy, irritable, unwilling to handle the new. And extremely willing to be a chattering, rabbity, panic festival. 

These are not the occasions when I do my finest work.

And this isn't when I make clever, wise decisions.

This is when I'm shrill and defensive, bitter, venting fears. (And fears are contagious, so, let's make this a group party!) And it gets obnoxious being inside my own head, where it's suddenly suffocating and damp. 

So I stick this quote on my desk, propped against my pencil cup, to help me realize that I'm breathing too fast and too shallow.

These words put bravery back within reach. Especially in the midst of the craziness, or even in the tedium. Heroism is a choice. So let's be brave.

Let's decide to last.

Let's lean in closer.

Let's take deep breaths in the face of the maelstrom. 

Let's be heroes.

Sometimes heroism is nothing more than patience, curiosity, and a refusal to panic. -- Leif Enger