Have Courage


Before you could drive a car or kiss properly, you wanted to be a certain person.  From ABC’s to times tables, you’ve wanted to build a castle the sea wouldn’t wash away.

Dreams are how we grow and what we live for.  And in my heart of hearts, I believe that anything you can dream of, can show up in your life.  Not only are you entitled to dream, but you’re supposed to.

John Keats said, “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination.”  You want to press your thumb into the world and leave your ridges there right alongside the mesas and valleys.  And why would you want to do this if it weren’t possible?  Life isn’t cruel like that.  It might be cruel in other ways, but not in that way.  And it doesn’t make sense.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes, our dreams just seem too big.  But what if it’s just piecing it together?  Doing one thing you think you cannot do and moving onto the next?

There are people that have imaginations that make giant loops through the world.  Like Stephen King.  Or the Dalai Lama.  These guys get on a subway, and they’re thinking about a killer clown who rips the arm off an eight-year-old.  Or what they’re going to say to the Pope when they get to the Vatican.

The train lurches forward, and King wonders whether or not he’ll win the World Fantasy Award.  The Dalai Lama watches a businessman reading a newspaper, and thinks about what to do with the China situation.  The more used to it you are, the bigger the loops seem to be.  The more you do, the more seems to come to you.  Maybe at first, their dreams were pint-sized.  Now they move along with a surety that they can do anything they can imagine.

Be like that.

I think these people, the ones who “get it,” spend their minutes like they’re made of gold.  They’re aware their breaths are numbered, and they’ve always got an eye on the beauty of the world.  They’re not concerned with themselves.  They’re curious.  About the state of the world and what it’s like to live a life.  And even though these people still drink coffee, do laundry, and fear things like we do, there’s something different about them.  That different thing is how they paint the world beautiful in the way that only they can.

If these people were snails, their mucus trails would be in every household, in every city, in every country in the world.  They’ve touched billions of human lives.  And I think when we were little, we imagined we’d shape the world in this way, too.  We’d add fire to our cities and stir the hearts of those around us.  In the very least, we’d find our own fire to light us from within in all our waking hours.

I think when we were little, too, we planned to exhaust all the possibilities for our lives.  Don’t lose that vein.

Not all of us are authors, painters, and musicians.  We’re inventors, graphic designers, journalists, lawyers, environmentalists, and social media managers.  But whatever we’re passionate about, when we do that thing, we add something.  We release something beautiful into the world that changes what it looks like.  And it’s like a ripple effect.  No matter if the difference is small, or if it’s millions of people, it matters and it’s beautiful.  And that’s why you breathe.  That’s why your heart beats.  You’re here to see the world, to marvel at it, too.  But with your talents and gifts, you’re also here to change it for the better.

I think if you take care of your work – how you spend your time – and who you love in this life, you’ve taken care of it all.  My heart has been seriously broken.  Smattered into something that looks nothing like a heart, and then crushed into finer pieces like powder.  But if you continue to take chances on love, relationships, joy, irregardless of how things work out… if you seek out new friendships and try to treat those around you with love and compassion… I feel like you’ve got half of it down.  And then the other part, finding out what you’re meant to do… in ways, it’s harder.  Love and treating others right are like sprints.  Being who you were born to be is a marathon.   Those are the only two questions we have to answer, though.  And don’t take yourself so seriously.  Step out of yourself for a second.

If you could be seven-years-old again, just for a few minutes, and you looked at yourself now, would you be proud?  Is your seven-year-old self proud of you?  Mine is.  My seven-year-old self thinks I should be less hard on myself.

And she sees me fail.  All the time.  But because I am failing, I must be trying.  I must be trying.

Amelia Earhart said, “Courage is the price Life exacts for granting peace.  The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things.”

I don’t think there’s a top of the mountain.  I think it’s finishing one thing only to start on the next.  Succeeding at one thing only to fail at the next.  And I think if cameramen could follow us around and capture us at our bravest… if they could track the whole thing from baby bottles to adult diapers…we’d see that our lives are a test of courage.  They’ll always be beautiful, no matter how small the life is.  But I think they can be most beautiful.  More beautiful depending on how brave we are.

Anais Nin said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” and I agree.   She also said, “We live out the confusions until they become clear.”  So I’m thinking about her words today.  And about being brave.

3 thoughts on “Have Courage

  1. Beautiful interweaving of artistic prose and an inspiring message. Too often, it seems as though we are “taught” through the lessons of society that we have to have a big impact to have an impact at all. It is said in that crass a manner, but it is clearly evident in the way we tend to hold a higher regard for our sports heroes, movie stars, musicians, political leaders, and authors.

    The truth is, once we can arrive at the front door to our heart and have the courage to open it with conviction, let our authentic selves out, and share it with the world, you are making the world a better place. For yourself and for every life you touch.

    I am the first one to admit that I get caught up in the trivialities of a day, the things that shouldn’t matter, but do at times. It’s posts like this, however, that wake me up and help me to realize that every day is new, every minute a new opportunity, every second a choice for us to make. If we all have the courage to be brave and act from our heart, beautiful occurrences transpire. Thank you, as always, for your inspiring and thoughtful words.

    • Thanks, Dave. I love this: “The truth is, once we can arrive at the front door to our heart and have the courage to open it with conviction, let our authentic selves out, and share it with the world, you are making the world a better place. For yourself and for every life you touch.” Thanks for sharing.

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