The word “warrior” conjures up all sorts of images. Soldiers, particularly in ancient times, fighting their battles. Knights in armor on their steeds, battling for their own land, or attempting conquest of someone else’s home. The word makes me think of the samurai, who lived by the code of Bushido with the seven principles of Righteousness, Loyalty, Honor, Respect, Honesty, Courage and Consistency.

An alternate definition of the word describes a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage or aggressiveness. This definition characterizes those “samurai” I know personally – people showing great vigor or courage in this game of life.

A dear friend is a warrior in her battle with Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune neurological disease. Those qualities of my samurai certainly describe her grace in dealing with her challenges each day. She shares her daily hikes in nature through photos and words, illuminating trails and forests many don’t have the chance to see. She shares her cooking through photos; the descriptions making me want to drive the hundreds of miles to join her for dinner. Her line each time, each post of her journeys, long and short, is “Grateful for another day.”

Another friend deals with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disease drastically impacting the activities of daily life we all take for granted. Graced with a treatment that mitigated her symptoms, she shares New York City through her photographs, finding beauty in each moment while dealing with the grief of the recent loss of multiple family members. She brings humor to her posts as she shares the life of the remarkable mother who recently passed away.

A dear family member has dealt with lung disease for decades. Imagine if in each moment you never know if your breath will nourish you, or land you in a hospital bed yet again. Struggling each day this way would break the best of us. She lives with the grief for those she has lost, and the challenges of the family that remains. Yet even as she fails, as each day gets a little harder, she expresses gratitude for the people that remain in her life, the people who surround her with love.

So many families and friends have troubles and tragedies lately that could lead one to hopelessness. All of them exhibit those seven principles of the long-ago Japanese warrior, striving to do the right thing with love and grace in the most challenging of times.

As we travel through our days, we often have no idea of the battles that the warriors, that any of us face. We, too, can model the warrior who allows us to live with grace, gratitude and kindness toward others.

susan schirl smith
Susan Schirl Smith is a writer, photographer and holistic nurse based in New Hampshire. Her essays have been published in Cognoscenti, Pangyrus, Silver Birch Press and The Journal of Holistic Nursing. Her photography has been featured in Barren Magazine and L’Ephemere Review. Smith’s current manuscript is Desperado, a memoir of her brother. You can follow Susan on her website or Facebook.

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