Most of our dictionaries will tell us “courage” is the ability to control (or conquer) fear. I’m often cited for being ‘courageous’ while out touring, hitchhiking, or traveling as a solo female… and yet: none of those exploits instill much fear in me. A little anxiety certainly, a healthy dose of anticipation, and perhaps a touch too much excitement, but fear? No, the open road speaks to me of possibilities, of adventure, of freedom. Societies initial ‘impending doom’ scenario is soon superseded with the reality of universal care, and though we may walk out the door in fear, soon the sky opens, the road widens, and your oyster tastes sweet.
If we have an understanding of what to expect, of our tools and our surroundings, then we are much less likely to be gripped by fear and therefore less likely to be feeling Brave. An outsider, who has never ridden a loaded bicycle on a deserted road, undoubtedly encounters uncertainty, insecurity and fear at the mere mention of it. But to the rider, who has become accustomed to life at a 15mph pace, and who has a map of all the waterholes, it has become a grand expedition, a soul-building, freedom filled experience. Our amount of courage is in direct proportion to our depth of fear.
So, I think it’s safe to say that while ‘out there’ on the highways and byways of the world, I’m not being very courageous. That’s not to say I’m not a courageous person. On the contrary, I like to think of myself as being very brave and bold. In fact, I just moved into a small house in a Midwest town knee deep in snow, with my lover (short one fully functioning leg) and his mother – with the somewhat delusional intention of ‘settling down’. If that doesn’t take courage, I don’t know what does! After three years of constant movement, and a childhood built on sporadic upheaval – being in one place with four walls and a roof, and looking for a job – well, it’s a little scary. Add to that a body and mind that don’t know of weather below 10 degrees Celsius, and you’ve got yourself some serious fear.
We congratulate our explorers on their bravery and we question our comrades who stay at home, but you may not have to rage the flood, or roam the field or climb the mountains crest – for a little bit of courage, just add fear.