Silent heroes

Dedicated to the only waterbender (hehe) I’ve ever had the privilege of getting to know and one of the greatest friends a person could ever ask for – Y.

Recent tragedies, especially one so close to home, have finally roused me from what used to feel like a dream – what used to feel like ‘just another news report on TV’ – and now, I’m hit with this realisation that the cruel side of reality is not something I can simply switch off at the click of a button. That unfortunately, there will always be those people out there who have lost their humanity and become victims of their own destruction. People who, for some horribly misguided reason (if we can call it a ‘reason’ at all), seek to thrive in the devastation of others.

But I’ve realised something else – something I failed to notice while I was ever so immersed in my world of books and stories. It is that we are in fact surrounded by heroes – just ordinary people with ordinary lives, doing extraordinary things.

To that teacher who dedicated her weekends to marking her students’ essays, to that fireman who risked his life to rescue another from the burning building, to that police officer who helped a little boy tie up his shoelaces because the boy didn’t know how to tie them up himself… (There are so many more, countless more)

Thank you so much.

Thank you not just for your heroic acts, but also for making me realise that there is also a beautiful side to reality – a side where people stretch their hands out to those in need; a side where people lend a shoulder to those who have trouble standing up on their own.

A side where heroes inspire others to be heroes as well.

'be strong' by konoumin  This is one of my waterbender friend's amazing artworks. Check out her art page at: konoumin.deviantart.com
‘be strong’ by konoumin
This is one of Y’s beautiful digital works.
For more of her amazing artworks, check out her art page at: konoumin.deviantart.com

And at the end of the day, as I gaze at the setting sun and watch a sea of colour ignite the darkening sky, I realise that the world is only as beautiful as we make it out to be.

I realise that while we have to acknowledge the bad things in life, we must also take a moment or two to notice and appreciate the good things too.

That extraordinary human noise we sit here making

Just yesterday, I watched the hauntingly beautiful, heart-stopping and, at times, heart-wrenching film ‘Gravity’ (2013). While the special effects were absolutely brilliant and I found my eyes totally captured by the terrifying grandeur of space, it was the littlest things that ironically left a much deeper impression on me – listening to the radio and driving, just driving; a baby crying; a dog barking; finally finding that sneaky, red shoe which turned out to be under the bed this whole time…

And I think, the universe is so large, so vast, so grand, yet it is those ordinary moments – those moments we often take for granted and end up leaving behind as we rush through life – that are most extraordinary.

It’s not just about ‘living in the moment’; it’s about appreciating every single one of those moments – even the ones that annoy the hell out of you, like that car that keeps honking at you even though it’s red lights and you can’t move; like your little sister yapping on about this amazing game she’s been playing even though you’ve told her to ‘be quiet’ several times already; like that lady in front of you at the checkout register who spends five minutes trying to find her purse and then proceeds to count out every single one of her coins so she can give the right amount to the cashier.

Do you realise that it’s actually these moments that will evolve into the stories we tell to our friends and family? That it’s actually these tiniest and seemingly most insignificant moments that we will end up remembering?

Raymond Carver captures this idea perfectly in the following quote:

I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark.

– Raymond Carver

The sound of our heart beating is always here with us, always here every second and every minute of our lives, so familiar and so seemingly banal that we often forget about just how absolutely extraordinary that single heartbeat – that simple human noise – actually is. Does it not beat a little faster at the thought of that special someone? Does it not pound a little louder, drum a little harder? Can you not feel those tiny heartbeats leaping in your fingers and toes, and can you not feel them pulsing down your spine?

Just listen. Hear that?

That is what we’re living for.