“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day that says…I will try again tomorrow.” … Mary Anne Radmacher
As a little girl I used to watch other kids and wonder how they ever got the courage to try the things that they did. They seemed so fearless to me. Adults would encourage me, kids would make fun of me and my mother would sigh but none of that made any difference. I was shy and nameless fears ran my life. The only time that I was able to leap forward and put myself into the spotlight was when I was coming to the defense of another fearful little person … then I was a miniature momma bear.
As I got older I learned how to stop showing my “cowardly” behaviours and I learned how to march forward into life and the public arena with a defiant attitude and a pulled together appearance. Defiance kept me safe in situations into which my shy, little inner-child would normally never have ventured. The Momma Bear tendency got stronger … more people came under the umbrella of my protective instincts … and slowly … bit by bit … I got stronger … for them and for me. Notice I didn’t say that I got any braver … but I did get stronger.
As I mentioned, I’ve always looked around and thought of courage as being something that other people had. I figured that when Life was handing that particular quality out I must have been off on a celestial ADHD romp and missed the boring line-up that was required to acquire it. So … until the massive learning curve of the last two years … I substituted dogged determination and just plain old get-to-it-iveness instead. But I have learned …
For me the first big opportunity to see myself differently came in my early 40s. No, I didn’t have a mid-life crisis … I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, camped overnight and hiked back out. It took 7 hours (and 11 pounds of water) to reach the bottom and 9 hours to get back up to the top. Every muscle in my body hurt by the time I finished but when I was done I had one of those wonderful ah-ha moments in life. I remember thinking to myself: “If I can do that, I can do anything.” My inner stage was set.
I found my courage at the bottom of the Canyon. Way down at the bottom of that beautiful hole in the Earth, with nowhere to go but up my quiet voice reassured me that tomorrow would be a new day, that one step after another I would march forward and that I did, indeed, have the courage and strength to make the long trek. Since then I have often found that my journey through life is like that trip down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon: it has challenges that make me question my ability to overcome them, amazing vistas that make the trip enjoyable and even MORE challenges that make me give my head a shake and question my sanity for ever having thought that THIS was a good idea. I have frequently been heard to ask: “What was I thinking?”
I look back on that trip into the earth and recognize it as a turning point in my life. I see how it gave me ONE spot inside of me wherein lay the knowing that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I could do the seemingly impossible. Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20 and with my telescope vision I see the incidents of being “capable” and “brave” mounting until confidence and courage slowly replaced the old fears and insecurities. Isn’t it interesting how life prepares us for what is to come … even when we don’t recognize it at the time? The mounting pile of positive feelings INSIDE became a new foundation from which I could move forward, with slightly more ease.
During my 2 year-long trek down the long, and often rainy, Cancer Trail did fear still raise its little head and natter on with its destructive chatter? You bet it did! But at least my inner landscape had a few benches strategically placed in peaceful spots onto which I could park my weary self, put on my metaphoric iPod and contemplate the next step. And it was on this trip that I experienced the truth of Mary Anne Radmacher’s quote: “Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day that says … I will try again tomorrow.” I learned that, indeed, I DO have courage and whilst it may not look like everyone else’s idea of being brave – or even my own old ideas of said quality – it is within me nonetheless.
This week why not have a look at your own courageous journey. Yes, that’s right …you do indeed have courage … it has taken lots to get this far in life. We’ve all had tough experiences and every day presents challenges to one degree or another. Now it’s time to look at some of the less than wonderful moments in your life with new eyes. Look back and see what coping mechanisms you used to get through them all, decide if those methods are ones that you would like to keep on utilizing and then give yourself a pat on the back for having survived. Remember that courage is often a quiet voice, that it takes courage to survive in this world of ours and that if you are willing to take one more courageous step you can begin a whole new journey … one that will take you into your own bright and amazing future.
Godspeed and Joyful Journeying Everyone.