Courage Under Fire

Of all the traits in people I admire most courage.

I love hearing peoples stories. I always find it incredible that when you drive through a neighborhood at night that all those illuminated portals hold dear the various skeletons that hide in suburban closets. I love stories. I love hearing people tell me their stories. However what I love most is redemption. Courage to burst forth like a Phoenix from the flames of personal hells.

The funny thing is that even as I mature I can clearly remember my fears as a child and I still have many of them. I suppose I could say that I am no longer afraid but that would be a lie. Mostly I do what I did as a child, take a deep breath, summon my nerve and put on my stage face. I still hesitate to walk into darkness. I still hesitate to talk to strangers. I still hesitate to love or trust.

For some reason I always recall the story of James Earl Jones when thinking of courage. James Earl Jones was a stutterer. To overcome his stutter he discovered acting. When he acted as though he was someone who didn’t stutter, the stutter went away.  I read this as a child and it changed the way I look at fear. To a degree we all have handicaps that we manage this way. We have a whole collection of masques that we wear to various events in our lives.

Human resilience and courage is an amazing thing and  if I have learned anything it is to never underestimate yourself.

What is courage to me?

There are limitless ways to be courageous. There are the obviously heroic ways such as running into burning buildings to save kittens and walking old ladies across busy intersections. But to me the simple courage of reality is the most incredible. Brushing the dust off our pants and moving on towards the hope for a better tomorrow.

To walk into a room of strangers.
To speak our mind.
To be kind to those deemed unworthy.
To respect difference.
To stand up for someone.
To step away from the crowd.
To dance by yourself.
To stand up after failing.
To jump when the distance is unsure.
To admit you’re wrong.
To make the first move.
To try something new.
To start a new school.
To start a new job.
To laugh at yourself.
To hope.
To love.

In closing, a favorite quote:
“Courage does not always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow” – Mary Anne Radmacher


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