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braver and more forgiving

April 23, 2017 , , , , , , , , , ,

I am listening to podcast interviews or reading transcripts from extraordinary individuals including Amy Purdy, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brené Brown, Janine Shepherd, Captain Chesley Sullenberger and Martin Luther King. And I am wondering why on earth I am so safe and so happy to be so? I know there’s nothing wrong with this, and that there is so much joy, momentum, and agency in my life. But my default position when I am under attack, or stressed, is to curl up. To go into myself. To protect myself. My goodness, I can have courage, but my FIRST instinct is scarcity. And I hate to admit it because I pride myself on being so courageous, optimistic, and joyful. That I have a steady moral compass. Well, maybe that moral compass needs a shake every now and then.

The thing is, I love my life and all that I have. And I think that the gratitude for the “ordinary simplicity” is what makes my life so joyful; that the small moments don’t go unnoticed. I do not like when it gets so busy and time gets so manic that I can’t treasure things just a little. But when I listen to these stories of courage and inspiration, I realise that I have a voice and a heart and a mind. And I haven’t even begun scratching the surface of what’s possible. Because there haven’t been many times in my life where I’ve needed to be “just above the line survival brave.” I wonder how other people do it; survive war, divorce, death of very precious loved ones, loss, miscarriages, still-births; the sadness and grief that comes with life. In my life, I have been very lucky. I have had struggle, and I don’t want to invite despair, but actually, I’ve had nothing pin me down to the point of revealing absolutely my raw courage. I haven’t needed to…yet.

The amazing things about these individuals is that they never invited any of their struggle, but they don’t make excuses for it. They don’t ask, “What if…?!” or bemoan their lot in life. Can you imagine how far Amy Purdy would have gotten if she had done that? And while I am sure she has horrific days of struggle, she lives. With ballsy, vibrant determination. A brand that I sometimes know and see in my own teaching, and other days seem so far removed from my world. To me, she is courageous and beautiful. To her, she is simply living. Problem-solving to the highest degree, and living. How did Martin Luther King reach that level of peace, clarity, and forgiveness? How did Brené Brown become so alight in work which took her onto centre stage, over and over? To tell the story of her work in a way that they world could use the information? How did Liz Gilbert find such wonderful fluidity to her words, and grace in her life, and somehow the courage to constantly turn the pages of forgiveness and self-love? Janine’s humour and strength brings to me to tears; would I be that lucid and funny if I had that life challenge? I am brought to a stand-still at the end of a long teaching day, or moments I feel like I’ve not been valued and heard, when I find myself in a place where I don’t want to be. And to have my world turned upside down by an event that I didn’t even ask responsibility for, and needed to give my life to undertaking to the highest degree of my skill-level; quietly articulate Captain “Sully” Sullenberger and his family didn’t ask for January 15th 2009. He asked for “an ordinary routine flight”!

Am I going to let my comfortable safety stop me from fully using my voice, a voice that is on loan to me for the time I am here on this earth? And am I going to let small slights stop me from getting into the muddy depths of life, and wading through to forgiveness? Will I cocoon myself up, or will I have the courage to reconnect? I don’t want “safety” to be the reason that I don’t full experience every bit of love, life, and hope possible.

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