Living with Courage
“I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it stop me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”
I have a friend whose going off to graduate school in another city a long way from home. He's about thirty, has had a steady job, though not one that excited his imagination. He's spent the decade since finishing undergraduate school pondering what might be his purpose in life. Some of us know from childhood exactly what we intend to do in this world, but for some of us, it takes cooking. This young man is his parents' only chick, and, as a teaching associate, he will teach creative writing to a prison population. You can imagine how this information is being received and processed by the parental unit—not well, not well at all. They are justifiably terrified. So terrified, in fact, that they have done everything possible to impede his path.
It reminds me of the story of my Uncle Jerry's going off to the Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My grandmother, newly widowed and raw as a bone, actually climbed on the bus and attempted to physically drag him off. He, of course, resisted, served in the Pacific in both World War II and the Korean War, and lived to tell the story with great amusement his whole life. Fear, justified or not, is a hobgoblin that can make us miserable, and stop us from fulfilling our life's purpose if we let it. Operating in spite of fear, whether our own, or that of someone we love, takes tremendous courage.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” I know my friend is following his heart. He may find the work daunting; may, as Georgia O'Keefe said, be terrified every moment of his life, but he will gain enormous experience and solidify his own trust of himself by standing with the fear and doing what he wants to do anyway. I wish him Godspeed.
In the Spirit,