Today, Kirsten told me what this month's theme, Courage, means to her:
My favorite superhero has always been Batman because he wasn't born super. Unlike Superman or the X-Men, Batman is an average human being just like the rest of us. His skills aren't the result of toxic waste spill or a nip from a radioactive spider. Batman chooses to be super. It's that choice that sets him apart from the rest.
In my opinion, we all place far too much stock in the gifts we're granted at birth. Beauty, intelligence, wealth -- the world tells us these are the things that make us who we are. They play a role, no doubt, but far more important are the traits we develop as we grow older.
In other words, it's not what we're born with, it's who we eventually become that counts.
No one is born courageous. Impetuous, maybe. Reckless, perhaps. But you'll never meet a courageous toddler. They simply don't exist. You have to choose to be courageous. It isn't hard. Everyone over the age of five can do it. All it takes are two simple steps . . .
1. Listen to your gut. (It will almost always identify the right thing to do.)
2. Do what your gut tells you, no matter what the consequences may be.
It's that second step that stymies most people. They know what they should do, but they lack the intestinal fortitude to follow through. That's why we're so fascinated by stories of individuals who have risked their lives, their jobs, or their freedom to help others. They're exceptional. They do what the rest of us can - but won't.
I'm fortunate to have been raised by one of those people. My own mother may be the most courageous person I've ever met. She's never rescued anyone from a burning building or testified in court against murderous mobsters. Hers is an everyday sort of courage. She always stands up for the powerless. She never bows to convention. She will accept any challenge or take on any fight if she thinks it's the right thing to do. (And believe me, you don't want to fight my mamma.)
One of the proudest moments of my life was when my father told me I was, "brave and stupid, just like your mother." (If you knew my dad's sense of humor, you'd find that incredibly touching.)
Throughout her life, my mother has chosen to be courageous. From what I've seen, it hasn't been easy. And although it's a constant struggle, and I don't think I'm quite there yet, I will always try my best to follow her (and Batman's) example.
- Kirsten Miller
Related Booklist: Sleuths and Spies
Check out my interviews with Kirsten Miller from 2007 and 2013.