“Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work, a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences.”
David Whyte (Consolations)
My friend, Garvice, shared an excerpt from David Whyte's book, Consolations, about courage and solace. Wonderful thoughts about subjects we thought we knew, and a deeper look at what they truly mean.
Our concepts of what it means to be courageous grow up as we do. Once upon a time, I believed courage came in the form of a handsome prince on a white horse—like Cinderella. Later, it meant strapping on a gun and marching off to war. And later still, I bestowed that title on people who risked their lives every day to care for someone else—firemen and policemen, nurses and doctors. I thought it took a great disaster to bring out the hero in ordinary folks. All these people are courageous, no doubt about it, but they are not alone.
These days, I've come to see courage in the oddest places. In my friend, Ethel, now in her 90's, who, even though she frequently doesn't feel well, gets up everyday and goes about her life. Last Saturday she put dozens of lilies in the church for Easter. And in my friends who've had cancer and endured the tortures of treatment without complaint simply because they have more to do in their lives. Courage is not as uncommon a thing as perhaps we believe it to be: knowing who you are, and not giving in to the pressure to be who you are not; having convictions that you will not abandon, while being open-minded enough to change those convictions when you are convinced you should; being able to say, “I was wrong about that. I am sorry.” All that takes guts.
Whyte says, “To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world; to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist with the things we already care deeply about...To be courageous is to stay close to the way we were made.” Courage is required to listen to opposing voices without closing our hearts and minds, and to honestly examine whether we are part of the problem, or part of the solution. In short, living according to one's own conscience is an act of courage.
I'll bet you, yourself, are a courageous person. Would your life be different if you believed that, too?
In the Spirit,