“And he was born full grown with a sword in his hand and pissing fire.”
– The Maisterpeaker, The Wolf of the North
From The Wolf in the North series, by Duncan M. Hamilton
One thing I really like about this book is how the Maisterspeaker, as the narrator, interacts with his audience every so often.
This instance is right at the beginning of the story, the first “interruption,” when someone in his audience is confused. Who is this “Wulfric” person whose story apparently begins with being bullied and beaten up? Wulfric, he explains, is the man they know by another name, Ulfyr, a warrior of great renown. But someone pipes up that no one could beat Ulfyr in a fight, no one.
To which, the Maisterspeaker responds with this quote, to everyone’s amusement.
What I really like about this quote is how, by being so ridiculous and false, it exposes a simple, profound truth, one that we often forget: our heroes are not so different from us.
Every person, good or bad, begins life the same way. Every animal begins as an embryo, every plant begins as a seed. There is no magical thing that happens and – boom, whammo – there are the champions of humanity, just popping into existence fully ready and strong and wise and perfect and beautiful and never having tasted failure. That simply does not happen.
Every one of us begins the same way, and so we grow through similar experiences. Everyone knows failure. Everyone knows defeat. Everyone knows pain. There’s nothing “special” about our heroes, nothing that makes them magically different. What makes a hero a hero has nothing to do with being “special” or “better” or “perfect.” It is only a matter of choice.
You know what that means?
It means our heroes are just like us.
Meaning, we are just like our heroes.
We can be heroes every bit as much as them. We may or may not be the same type of hero, but, still, a hero nonetheless. All we need do is choose, and hold to that choice through thick and thin.
And what is the choice, you ask? To care. To do. To strive to be our best self. To give what is needed, when it’s needed.
Anyone can do that. Anyone. Even you. Even me.