When I was young and watched the Wizard of Oz, I resonated with the tin man. I believed the ability to love and be loved was the most important trait one could possess, which was convenient for me, because opening my heart to others came easily. I never gave the lion much thought. In fact I was impatient with him, whining about not having courage. Why couldn’t he just roar and carry on? He was a lion after all.
As I moved into adult life, love, peace, joy, and compassion were traits I cultivated, but courage was never on my radar, until this year. Last month I created a vision board for 2019 and was inspired to put a word in the center of it. My first instinct was to put PEACE, but then I hesitated, because peace is something I often use as an excuse to stay in my comfort zone.
To feel peaceful, I need to manage my anxiety, and to manage my anxiety, I need lots of control and organization. I feel peaceful when the house is clean, all the bills are paid, my personal relationships are free of conflict and I have plenty of time to exercise, meditate, and sleep. Maintaining peace keeps me busy with tasks that reduce my anxiety, but it also limits the time and energy I have to grow and challenge myself.
So, last month I resisted the urge to put PEACE through the center of my vision board and instead, took the first word that popped in my head after that, COURAGE. I had no intellectual reason for choosing this word but strictly followed my instinct and soon it was spelled out in silver glitter as my word for 2019. But what does it really mean? Merriam Webster defines courage as “the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty”
That definition wasn’t specific enough for me. How do I as a white, heterosexual, cisgender, middle class, well educated woman express courage? I was born with privileges that create safety and minimize obstacles to success. Have I even been courageous in my life ? Well, probably. I bicycled across the United States after college. I ran marathons. I loved, was hurt and betrayed, and chose to love again. I moved to Oriental to start a new life. I self published two novels. I started my own business.
Because I rarely look at my life through the filter of courage, I’ve never given myself credit for the courage it took to achieve these things. Being courageous has brought joy, satisfaction and a sense of purpose to my life, energetic feelings that are difficult to experience when I’m merely at peace.
But I still haven’t answered the question of how I’ll be courageous in 2019. I have some ideas, like being more assertive with promoting my writing, leading women’s workshops, and letting my hair go silver (future blog post alert). Ultimately courage requires me to be authentic and self possessed.
I am here to share my unique version of the divine. My unique version. That means my contribution to the world will be different than everyone else’s and I should not let that scare me. I need to have the courage to express myself through my words, actions and behaviors, and not be restricted by the fear of conflict, disapproval and rejection. And when I experience conflict, disapproval and rejection, peace will restore me, so I have the courage to continue living an authentic life. Peace and courage, opposite sides of the same coin, a silver coin, with glitter on it.