I think we only get to know that we are courageous by getting to know our fears well. And for me that has been very, very hard. I am not one that likes to admit that she is afraid...yet I am terrified much of the time. But I go on anyway, pushing forward, moving past the fear and doubt. Because it is all I know to do. Fear never lets me stay idle for long, because fear always whispers in my ear, “go, go now. It is time.”
However, right now I am being asked to stay. I am being asked to remain with a whole host of feelings that I do not want to have. To sit with a great deal of uncomfortableness, sadness and loss. Again.
Let me be clear.
I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS!
I WANT TO RUN, ESCAPE, PLAN, MOVE ON.
I WANT TO DO ANYTHING BUT SIT STILL.
For some, taking action takes a great deal of courage. For me, action is the escape. It is the easier way. It is the way that I deny the fear and show everyone, most importantly myself, that I am really just fine...
So this staying that I am being asked to do is critically painful. It is hard to fight your own mind, the one that tells you to get on a plane, to run there, NOW!
And yet, I have sat. I have not acted. I have not called or texted or started something new or ended something already in progress. I am right here sitting with this awful, panicky feeling in my chest and a gut that flips and flops so often that I can feel the bile rising daily. Yet, here, I am going nowhere, doing nothing.
And I am here to say that this sitting still takes all the courage I have. It is hard work. It is painful. It’s end game, unknown and unknowable. For me, right now, and maybe always, courage has been seeing how I am accommodate, seeing my defects and being willing to do the thing that I want to do least...and right now I want to run, to escape this life I have right now and go start something new and exciting, one that I can tell a better story about. One that I can pretend, one more time, that I am fine. I am not grieving. One where I am just fine, see just look at how I move on.
Today, I am practicing courage by staying still. I am not going anywhere, I am not doing anything. I am not creating some new fiction in my mind that makes the escape route safe and reliable. I am just sitting with all of the feelings that I so often run to avoid.
Courage today looks like me being alone when I want company. To sit still when everything in me wants to run. Courage is this quiet defiance of my usual habitual patterns. Courage means doing absolutely nothing my head tells me is a good idea with no promise that I am going to get what I want, that I will be ok, that I might be spared pain or grief or loss. Courage means summoning up enough willingness to just let those inconvenient feelings come anyway...to just allow myself to be sad.
For me, I can really think of nothing else that is more courageous...to allow myself to be sad. To allow myself to say that things are not working out the way I would like. To say that I would really, really, really like things to be other than how they are.
But courage is also getting out of bed each day and honoring my commitments. Courage is not giving into self pity and selfishness. Courage looks like showing up to work and parenting with the best attitude that I can, even though I would much rather not.
Courage means taking it on the chin when there is no other place for the punch to land. Courage is remaining right here even though it hurts. Courage is taking direction that assures me no outcome I can fathom. Courage means going on despite my wishes and fears and desires and pain.
Courage is moving forward while remaining right where I am. Occupying this fucking moment and allowing all my demands to just dissipate and evaporate.
Courage is laying bare my heart without a story that makes me safe. Today I own the pain that I am in and will do no habitual thing to exit that pain. Courage is knowing that the pain is here to teach me something ancient that I have been avoiding too long. Courage is allowing the loneliness to just be what it is without adding anything more...while still maintaining that change will happen even if I just sit still.
Courage is having the faith that contrary action paves the way for new behavior and new thinking despite all my resistance and desire for it to be different. Courage is facing myself, unafraid of owning the truth that I have always known. Today, courage is the willingness to be alone.
Courage is sometimes loud and confrontational. A heroic battle scene where one man or woman overcomes fear and bravely saves another...but sometimes, courage is quiet and meek and is the stubborn refusal to give in to everything you think you will spare you some pain. Sometimes, courage means just being here, right now, with life unresolved, not tidy and neat with all the knots tied. Courage sometimes looks like a mess. And that is ok...it is courage nonetheless.