Romance and the Everyday Hero
We’re coming up to Valentine’s Day (now there’s interesting tale to be told too!). This is the day we all celebrate that ‘many splendid thing’ called love. And one of the ways we describe that dance between lovers, is romance.
But let’s take a step back here.
Originally, the term romance referred not the contents of a book, but rather its form. These original romances were epic adventures full of daring deeds and heroism.
From the 1300s, romance referred to reciting a narrative from the Old French romancier, which meant ‘to translate into French’. Prior to that, it had come from romanicus, meaning of the Roman style.
These narratives, although written, were often performed. Can you imagine everyone gathered around the flicking firelight while one of the household recited the passages from Beowulf or the story of King Arthur? From there we get to chivalric romances – noble knights imbued with honour, fulfilled their quest and returned to claim the hand of the beautiful maiden. The French particularly specialised in tales of courtly love.
Okay the history lesson from the historical romance writer is over.
What about the romance bit?
I’m not a relationship expert, but I do write about men and women and their long and winding journey to the land of a happy ever after – and I have been married for nearly 24 years (to the same man!), so I’ll share with you what I know.
I’ve identified four ways our every day Aussie bloke can be like the hero of a romance novel (and it doesn’t require growing your hair out like Fabio).
1. A hero has a quest
He knows his purpose in life. He doesn’t let life happen to him. He has a clear objective and a clear morality. He knows there is risk. And he takes it any way in the pursuit of the highest good.
In fact the word virtue comes from the same Latin root word as virile, so it’s no accident.
2. A hero takes responsibility
Not only for himself and his actions, but also for other things about him. He doesn’t leave it for other people to do. A hero is willing and able to deal with an issue, even if it is not of his own making.
A hero has ‘response ability’ which means he has trained and prepared himself to act effectively when the situation calls for it.
3. A hero has courage
A hero knows things aren’t going to go his way all the time. Sometimes the odds are really stacked against him. Sometimes he has to descend to the depths of hell to defeat the foe.
He know what is at stake if he fails. He know what the opportunities are if he succeeds.
He finds his courage because he draws on his purpose, moral clarity and ‘response ability’ to fight for victory.
4. The hero acknowledges that a weak man cannot be a virtuous man
A hero masters his inner beast, the dark force, the capacity for malevolence that lives within his heart. He doesn’t deny it. Instead he acknowledges it and uses it to develop his courage and strength.
Think Luke Skywalker tempted by the Dark Side; Christ’s temptation in the wilderness.
A hero is good because he chooses not to be bad.
A hero who has integrated his darker nature, and mastered it, becomes a formidable man.
What about the heroine?
A true romantic heroine is no helpless damsel in distress. She is an equal partner on this joint quest but acknowledges there are some paths the hero must walk alone.
She encourages the hero to find his inner courage and helps him fully realise his capacity for valour and honour.
A real romantic heroine never betrays the hero. As the adventure becomes dangerous, she is the one person above all on whom he can rely.
And if the heroine herself has dragons of her own to slay, she has enough courage to allow him to step in help, if needed.
What about the real world?
You might say, that’s all well in good in the confines of a book, but how does that translate into the real world.
Well, peel back the cover of your own love story and see that your romantic hero is right there.
He’s the man who goes out to work every day to support his family. There may be days where the job may be emotionally crushing – perhaps even dangerous, but our hero does it because it is the right thing to do for his family.
His quest: to care for his family and help them become the very best they can be.
That is one of many ways our every day hero shows his virtue.
Our bloke is also there to fight dragons – especially when they take the form of rats, cane toads, snakes, leaky taps and jars that just won’t open.
He works to improve himself physically, mentally and spiritually because he never knows when he might be called on to step up. He wants to be a man that other people can rely upon.
Our everyday hero loves his family and he knows there is something special and transcendent in being a hero just for them.