“What do you think you were doing?” You ask yourself.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t being myself!” You answer for yourself.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I was scared, and then I did this thing that I was sure was going to kill me. But it didn’t. So I’ll give the momentary disillusionment a name – courage.[/perfectpullquote]
I remember a plane ride from many years ago. A world was opening up for me on the other side of a long flight. Oceans away, a new country was waiting for me.
In retrospect, the decision to leave home and explore a new life seems heroic, even stupid! I didn’t consider the realities. All it was, was a decision made out of inexperience. But there was a moment after the suitcases were sent through baggage check and before I boarded the plane – a single moment that made all the difference.
In between past and future, there I was, going up on an airport escalator. Something moved in me, and I wanted to look back. For just a second, I was sure the pain was too much and I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t leave my family, my home and all of my life behind. As I was about to look back, a voice told me to look forward. Having no choice, I did as I was told. The escalator moved up and I planted myself firmly to its metal steps, determined. A second went by, and whatever had moved in me, snapped right back to place. Carrying a dreadful weight and tearful eyes, I followed where the rest of my life was leading me.
Courage, is sometimes, just a painful escalator ride.
In movies and books, it roars. It fights, screams and yells. It throws punches and extravagant words. Outside of fiction, it is an ordinary guy in a crowded street – lonely, silent and sometimes, invisible.[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Courage, until you are a safe distance from whatever caused it to manifest, feels like misery. But without accompanying pain, it would be like a fallen leaf in a forest full of trees. Useless, and quite unappreciated. [/perfectpullquote]
We all have it in us. We’re all capable of it. Some of us try harder than others to prove we have it. Some look for it as if their life does not provide enough heartbreak to have it manifest on its own. They go cliff diving. Or bungee jumping. Or free falling. But for you and me, and all average human folks (including cliff divers and free fallers) courage is every day. It is in the mere act of surviving. In making choices. In making decisions – to leave, to stay, to love, to give up, to wait, to quit, to move…
A friendship of sorts – fear and faith
That wasn’t my only encounter with a moment of intense pain that I would later describe as courage. I have, since then, had numerous instances where I made a choice. Where it wasn’t the right thing or the right time. When it felt like the earth was tearing up or the sky was shattering. Where it felt like a heart was breaking. But whenever I made a choice to keep moving – when I lifted one foot and placed it in front of the other – whenever I felt miserable enough to not want any of it but kept breathing like I was giving life another chance – I would like to think that I was brave. I was finding strength without knowing what it was. I was brave for simply not stopping dead on my tracks.
I didn’t run into a burning building to save someone’s life. No, I have never known that kind of courage.
But I have found strength. In the mundane and the ordinary.