Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Room of One's Own

Fear.

I know about fear. We're intimate friends. Many years ago, I joined Charlie Brown among the ranks of the pantophobic. I'm afraid of things real and imagined, sublime and obscene, from A to Z, alpha to omega, soup to nuts, bad to worse. If you ask what I'm afraid of, I'll reply "What'cha got?" and straighten the shoulders of my black leather jacket.

Everybody's afraid, it's just that some of us are brave enough to admit it to ourselves. A few of us will even admit it to the world at large. Fear is a survival instinct that goies back millions of years. Fear kept our distant ancestors alive. It's an ingrained part of our make-up.

There is hope, though. Each of us has within us a place that is wholly us, a place where we are absolute masters with absolute power. We carry our "room of one's own" within us. When things gat bad, or appear to, as is so often the case, I can retreat into my room for a little while. In there, I am safe. Nothing can touch me. A few minutes there makes all the difference. When I feel overwhelmed, I can find my courage there, waiting with infinite patience and deathless loyalty.

Courage.

Courage and I have had a rocky relationship throughout my life. It's always been there, I just haven't always recognized it. Courage is one of the absolutes in this world. It's up to us to see it and use it. That's the hard part. Fear is blinding and paralyzing, keeping us from seeing reality. Recognizing that and finding that room deep inside is the key to overcoming fear.

Many people think of courage as charging a machine gun with only a rifle and a hand grenade or leaping into an icy river to save a drowning child. Those are incidences of courage, sure, but we cannot forget to give ourselves credit for the courage to live every day. Courage is not being unafraid. Anyone who claims to have no fear is delusional. The best definition of courage I can think of is: courage is taking one more step. Courage means moving forward in spite of the fear.

Courage is writing when you know the words will hurt. Courage is writing when you know the words suck rotten eggs. Courage is writing on days when you have nothing to say. Just one more step. Just one, that's what courage is.

Congratulate yourself for having the courage to live. Pat yourself on the back for having the courage to write. Celebrate the strength that allows you to pick one foot up, move it foward, and put it back down. Give yourself a medal. You've earned it.

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