Poor 2020. The year has been maligned with so much turmoil that has scared off courage. Or has it? Being afraid reminds me of some scary times in my childhood. Maybe you can relate.
Gulp. Being double-dog dared by your two older brothers ups the ante when it comes to courage. In my elementary school days I went toe to toe with mustering bravery to squelch my inner terror.
Have No Fear?
My brothers and their friends seemed to have no fear. But me? I’d sit on the edge of the barn loft, peering down into the pile of loose, billowy hay below. “Jump, scaredy-cat, jump! Come on, chicken. Jump!” Gulp.
It didn’t matter if the boys were kicking loose and sailing into the thick blanket of prairie hay. My buns clung to the edge of that wooden beam as I envisioned sure injury and possible death.
“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do,” American World War I fighter ace Eddie Rickenbacker once declared. “There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” We actually need fear for courage to exist?
I certainly understand the hesitancies in life to try new things and press beyond what we consider our capabilities and limits. You know, the speaking in front of an audience, giving birth, getting a colonoscopy, going back to school, eating boiled okra, changing careers, moving to another state. We’ve all got scenarios that make us squeamish or hold us back from taking risks.
Summoning Mental and Moral Strength
Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” That sums up my childhood days of double-dog dares and talking myself through the risk of free falling into that cushy hay pile. If I recall, I finally summoned enough “mental and moral strength” on my third visit to the edge of the hayloft. I needed to watch the boys jump and come up laughing, not crying. I needed to jump for myself and not them.
“Jump, scaredy-cat, jump!” I braved the hayloft plunge and my fresh courage took me back to the ledge to jump and squeal in delight another time or two that day. Once I overcame that particular fear, my bravery, mixed with common sense, emboldened my courage for other life adventures. Like starting this website and writing blogs to you. Like writing books and speaking about resiliency and bending and not breaking.
Afraid + Brave = Courage. You ready to double-dog dare your bravery on today? Take a risk. Let fear plus bravery be your guide to courage. If I can wiggle off the edge of a hayloft, you can attempt even more. Heck, you can eat the boiled okra. I double-dog dare you.
Beth[i]e, dear, this most recent blog entry of yours could not have been more timely for me. I’ve been facing an inevitable turn–or next step–in my life that frankly has dried my mouth and moistened my palms (including the, what?, “palms” of my feet–or is there another term for the bottoms of one’s feet…I think those are just referred to as “the bottoms of one’s feet!”). Oh, and I have also done the leap into the hay from wooden barn heights…oh, wait,, come to think of it, I believe it was actually a load of grain. That feat occurred on my uncle’s farm in Kentucky. Anyway, thanks for the math problem* of “Afraid + Brave = Courage.”
* Did you ever wonder why math equations are called “problems”?
Janie, I am glad my words on courage have proved timely. I am not glad that you’ve had the extra stress and fear. Maybe one little brave scooch tomorrow?
You continue in my prayers, my friend.
Seems like each day now requires more courage than it used to! Thanks for encouraging us that we can do it, Beth.
Yes, fresh courage is sometimes needed many times a day it seems. It’s not always easy, Nancy, I think we can keep moving forward, even if it’s just fractions of an inch at a time. Or, sometimes staying in one spot for a bit.