Courage has many faces. As with beauty, so is fear in the eye of the beholder. Something that requires a degree of courage for me, may in fact be effortless for you. For example, several of my friends have lately raved about zip lining. However, in spite of their enthusiasm and reassurances that it is quite risk free, I am resistant. Zip lining is considered a pretty tame activity for outdoor enthusiasts, but… Still I am I fearful. Why?
I have a fear of physical exposure engendered by an accident. When my partner and I lived in Thailand, we had a serious motorcycle mishap. A careless driver drove his bike into us at fairly high speed while we were making a legal right turn on ours. I was catapulted off the bike for some feet, planting my face squarely on the pavement.
Luckily I was wearing a helmet with a brim, which kept most of my face damage free. When I picked myself up, I realized I had broken one of my front teeth from the impact. My right leg was also quite badly hurt. Thankfully it was not broken, but there was significant soft tissue damage. This took months to heal completely so that I could walk 100% pain-free.
The challenge of ingrained fears
We bought a larger motorcycle (and better helmets!) and traveled that way for the duration of our years in Thailand. It was simply the most suitable transportation choice for various reasons. But every single time I rode on the bike, I had to overcome the fear of having another accident. Riding a motorcycle became an exercise in courage. Life had presented me with a situation that forced me to push my internal boundaries.
Risk to push your fear boundaries
This little story is just part of a larger one. Some years ago, we sold all of our material possessions to travel and see some of the world. This is highly unusual; there are not many examples or mentors for this life path. And, in the North American culture it went against the model of what is expected in a person’s midlife. We were “supposed to be” accumulating the material signs of success, not throwing them away. We did not conform to the required formula for life.
Before we left, someone said to me, “You are brave, Susan.” I remember shrugging it off as nothing. But, now in retrospect I would respond, “Yes, I am”. For are we not all, when we push the boundaries of our comfort level? And, particularly when it does not conform to the dictates of society?
Facing fears builds moxie and grit
Life is full of choices. Some are small, others large. And the big ones inevitably present us with trials that embody one fear or another. Based on my experiences, I believe that facing our fears and moving through them does in fact help us to build a “courage arsenal”. As with love, our moxie and grit expand the more we use them. I’ve discovered new worlds, as well as abilities in myself, that I never would have without taking some risk. In the final analysis, that has been the great reward.
Photo courtesy Quang Nguyen Vinh, Pexels
Related Hart Haiku post here.
Building your Courage Arsenal © Susan L Hart 2019