01 Mar Courage
I don’t normally consider myself a courageous person. But as I look at the subject with a wider lens, I have come to realize that courage doesn’t only happen in times of loss or during great stresses and momentous events. We are all challenged by life each day and tend to underestimate what it takes to make the choices that bring vibrancy.
Small things, everyday activities, the minutiae of life all test my metal – will I do those dishes in the sink or brush my teeth when deeply weary? Will I set my feet upon the floor in the morning and go about taking care of things as if they are my idea or will I go about them as a chore? Will I speak up and ask for help or clarification when I don’t understand something or will I be silent? And if I somehow fall short of my own personal expectations of how I should act or be, will I forgive myself for these self perceived short comings and move on. These are all tiny moments of courage that, when gently gathered into a whole, shape the quality of our lives.
Perhaps it is easier to dismiss or forget our courageous nature. Choices large and small that we made years ago, last month or even yesterday tend to float away on the river of time. We are often so busy living our lives that we have never stopped to appreciate how gutsy we’ve been.
In the early years of my young adulthood, I followed a hunch and moved from Oregon to New York City to study acting. At age nineteen I wasn’t sure acting was my life’s calling but with my fertile imagination I could envision a different path, a different life – one where I didn’t give it a try, one where I settled down…one where I settled. In the hazy image of this alternate life-path, I stayed in Oregon because I was afraid to move across the country with nothing other than a dream. In this scenario, I ultimately got married and had a husband, a couple of kids, a home and something else – perhaps an additional job to occupy my time. When following this thread of possibility with my mind’s eye, I instinctively knew that taking this path would be grossly unfair to whomever I settled with. Imagining this future, I could foresee myself growing into a resentful person, regretting that I hadn’t tried, picking incessantly on myself for turning from the unknown. I would resent my life choices and by extension anyone who would be foolish enough to hook their star to mine. That intuition of mine, to step into the unknown, has never led me wrong.
Following my nose has been easy – except at those times when I apparently have something to lose. In those moments stepping into my truth and following my heartfelt desires takes courage. Bravery and true courage also happens in those moments when I have the grace to let go of my past, when I’m willing to not second-guess my life choices, when I’m willing to proceed as if this moment is perfect and I’m willing to admit that I am perfect, too – including my foibles and idiosyncrasies. Being willing to be me – not a watered down version of someone I wish I were – that takes courage.
Hmmm. I guess I’ve underestimated myself all along. How about you?