”I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
Can one teach courage? Maybe not – maybe you must model it. When I think of my mother-line I see a visual continuum of courage.
In the only baby picture I have of my mother she looks apprehensive. She lived that story for many years and then slowly emerged as a brave soul. Sometimes that made her look rash or foolhardy, but in hindsight, I don’t see any of her moves as rash. They were giant leaps into the great unknown from situations that she felt were intolerable. Maybe her courage arose from her desperation. Hmm…
For instance, when she divorced my father she had to support herself. She chose unconventional paths that took great courage for a woman born in the early 1900’s. She was striking out on her own after many years of marriage. And, in the 50’s a woman had difficulty getting her own checking account, let alone a credit card. She persevered.
That set me to wondering if I had courage. Tenacity, grit maybe…but bravery? Still, looking back, much of my life involved overcoming fear.
Some moves were deliberate. When I traveled for business or education I recall making myself sit down in a restaurant in the evening. (I wouldn’t allow myself to take a book.) It was very hard to look around, watch people, even to look out the window. But I didn’t want to be confined to room service or fast food when in a new town. And I was afraid to fly but I wanted to go everywhere and that necessitated flying. So I guess that’s bravery of a sort.
Later, my travel for pleasure was often viewed by others as unusual. I only saw it as doing what I wanted even if I ended up doing it solo. And when I went to Italy alone, I didn’t think of it as courageous. I made a plan and fulfilled a dream of staying in a medieval village. Being on my own forced me to learn more of the language, immerse myself in the culture, and be a part of the village.
My daughters and daughters-in-love* (your mothers) are living examples of courage and bravery. They have traveled, forged out life experiences, lifestyles, professional paths – all at the risk at one time or another of seeming foolhardy or too adventurous.
You will be a great example of courage in the world. Even now as you look back at your lives don’t you have a swell of joy remembering the things that you have accomplished? And the adventures you’ve had…I can’t count them.
A, you moved to Southern California by yourself in order to follow your dreams. You have had the courage and tenacity to acknowledge and corral your addictions. In the valley of excess you live a clean and sober and meaningful life. Your master’s degree in counseling will help others do the same. I know from visiting and visiting with you that it hasn’t always been easy. That’s courage!
M, you auditioned A cappella for an exclusive state choir when you were so young. I was frightened just thinking of it. But you had the chutzpah to try out and add your sweet voice to that choir. Now, your new dream is coming to fruition as you graduate from college and continue working to make a difference in the world as you have at your university.
G, you had the courage to leave home and go to Ecuador for a year. When your host family ran into difficulties you were clever and brave enough to find a different situation and finish the year, all the while becoming fluent in Spanish. Courage! When I visited you in Quito I could see you truly loving and appreciating the people. Now you are several states away and teaching in a bilingual (zoom} classroom; paving the way for young children and their families to feel included and to live productively in their new country.
AI, you’re hard to keep track of because your mind is so active and your activity so eclectic that I must always check in with you to see what you’re doing. Sometimes I only discover what you’re doing my social media. Is it founding a women’s adventure film festival? Preparing to life coach?Teaching skiing? Moving your store location? Leading rafting adventures?
Ahh…the mother line. I don’t know enough about my grandmothers to know what they contributed but I know that my own mother led the charge in my lifetime. Your mothers have taught you by example to carry the torch. We can do whatever we dream. There are no shrinking violets here!
*Thank you, Ramana