Be Your Own Hero

A few weeks ago, I had a job interview and one of the interview questions posed to me was “Who is your Hero?” What a great question, and one not often asked in the context of an interview.

My answer was and has always been my Dad.  However, what was different this time, was that it was the first time I had been asked or answered the question since my Dad died.  My eyes welled up in tears as I answered the question.

Those who know me, or who knew my Dad, know the profound impact he had on my life, and that his death has had on me over the past year.  I came across this communication that I sent to a friend on the day we buried my Dad:

How do I say goodbye to the most important man in my life?
I knew this day would come…I just didn’t think it would come so soon.
I’ve been able to fly as high as I have because I always knew my Dad would be there to catch me if I fell….and over the last few years I’ve done a lot of falling.  And in those moments when I didn’t think I could get back up again, it was my Dad who would remind me of my strength and called my forth so I could pick myself back up again.
Right now, life seems to have no meaning or purpose

As I read what I wrote, over a year and a half ago, I am present to how I felt when I wrote it. Lost. Hopeless. Uncertain. Afraid.  Deeply sorrowful.

In my second interview with the same company, the interviewer asked a question something along the lines of, “What have you learned about yourself?”

My answer was, “That I am resilient.” What I’ve learned over the last year and a half is to be my own hero.  Grief and loss can be incredible teachers if we let them.  Without having my Dad to call or talk to or rely upon, I’ve needed to call upon and rely on myself in new ways.  I’ve had to learn to catch myself, to build myself up, to see myself in the ways that my Dad has always seen me.

On November 9, I woke up,  like many other Americans feeling as though the world had changed, and like many, feeling it was not for the better.  After weeks of experiencing many of the same symptoms of grief, depression and anger that I felt in the months after my Dad’s death, I began to inquire into the “reason” for this and the opportunity.

The other night, I saw Hamilton.  Yes, it lives up to the hype.  It’s so much more than a hip-hop musical, or a way to get old white people to appreciate that style of music.  It is an evocative piece of art that is timeless and now, very timely. As I took in the show, and allowed the music and the message to wash over me, I couldn’t help but wonder what I might have felt, had the election outcome been different.

Hamilton evoked many emotions  inside me. The first was sadness.  As I watched the story of our forefathers and how they created our nation, what they stood for, and how our country began (by breaking away from a patriarchical ruler and fighting for freedom); I felt sad about how divided our nation seems now and the extremes of our differences.  I also felt sad that we now have a president-elect that I can not get behind, because I can not normalize something that simply isn’t “normal” and who certainly does not, in my opinion, represent the values and ideology that our country was founded upon.

After experiencing my sadness, what I saw next was the opportunity that this might present.  Just as our forefathers ushered in a new nation from a revolution…the people of our county perhaps might rise up and do the same.

We the American people can no longer rely on politicians, elected officials or even our President to look out for us or to be our heroes.  Just as I have needed to learn this lesson after losing my Dad, we the people, need to step up and be our own heroes now. We as a nation are resilient and it’s time to see ourselves in new ways and rise together.

Times of uncertainty and unrest can call forth creativity, innovation and pave the way for  new leadership, ideas, solutions.  Now is not the time for complacency or resignation. Perhaps it is time for another revolution.  But not a revolution of hatred, war, killing or bloodshed. A revolution of ideas, thinking and being that contribute to new solutions in business, in the economy, the environment, education, healthcare, in our communities, etc.

When you fight against the current narrative you give it power. We have never been here before, so  we need a new approach, which includes listening to understand.  And also thinking and feeling before speaking, which would lend itself to tapping more into our hearts and not so much from our minds, or what we already “know.”  From there, new ideas and solutions can arise and one can take action from this new place.

As the Schuyler sisters say in Hamilton,Look  around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now.”  We are in a position to create a new narrative. It’s the story that we all tell next that will create the future.

So what story are you going to tell?