And then I woke up
A few days ago, a friend recommended that I watch Brene Brown’s Netflix special, “The Call to Courage.” I highly recommend this. It woke me the hell up. I might write more about this later, since the points she makes explained so much and actually gave me more comfort than five years of therapy, and so many books on fixing myself.
She begins with a quote from Teddy Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
That moment when the lights come on
That was me. I had dared to escape my bad situation, which should have soured my heart to ever loving again. I had kept trying with my kids and faced many challenges, many that I lost. I had opened my heart to someone and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I gave it everything I had! And my heart got the shit kicked out of it.
I bought her book Daring Greatly ten minutes into watching the Netflix special. I was like a cold wave of water that just hit me square in the face.
Especially the part where she explains that courage cannot exist without vulnerability.
I had looked at the face of adversity, with my only prior experience being that nothing good can come from opening yourself up, and I didn’t flinch. I was brave. I got out into the arena and I was bloodied, broken, and abandoned. But I had truly lived.
I put myself out there as myself. Unfortunately, it just so happened it all fell apart. Which happens. That is life. It beats hiding in a hole where it is “safe.” I’m well acquainted with that hiding spot. I also know that I have outgrown it.
There is a moment in one of my favorite movies, the Razor’s Edge, when Larry Darrel (Bill Murray) is lamenting the loss of his fiancee. As a survivor of war, he ventured out to find the meaning of life and when things end tragically, he says to an old friend, “I thought Sophie was my reward for trying to live a good life. Uh-uh. There is no payoff.” The words might seem bleak, but Larry is at peace. He lived. He tried. There is another day ahead.
Getting Out of the rut
The reason I’m posting this here today instead of just talking about places I’ve been is because sometimes you have to visit the depths of yourself. I got out more this time by connecting the dots and putting everything I’ve read together. It showed me new places to go. It gave me appreciation for places in my spirit I have been. That is as much of a journey as a sunlit mountain trail or sandy beach. Maybe moreso, since those physical places mean nothing if they aren’t stirring something within.
Life is sometimes messy. The places we go inside and out are not safe. To live means to push ourselves forward and not let fear and resistance hold us in place. Trust and vulnerability work in tandem, and nobody really knows what comes first. But both have to be attempted, otherwise, you cannot have courage.
Trusting myself again
Soon, I will be traveling solo out of the country. The last time I was out of the country was when I was 17 on a bus full of kids. This is light-years beyond my comfort level, but I am eager to take the trip. It needs to happen. It has been the beginning of a trip I have wanted to take my entire adult life.
Am I up to the challenge? You bet your ass I am. Not so long ago I would have been self-conscious about going anywhere by myself. The standard for men and women is that going solo means you are pathetic. You have to have you “squad” your friends. For men, it is even worse. You are seen as creepy or even dangerous. I have been places before where I talk to strangers, making polite observations, and they pretend they never even heard me. But sometimes getting out more means going it alone. It means taking that risk that you won’t be in a “safe” group and that the memories you make are yours and yours alone…unless you share them.
I write to bring others along with me, not to brag, not to thump my chest, and not to belittle anyone. My story, like yours, I feel is worth sharing. I am happy to bring you along. That’s what writers do. I might not always have traveling companions, but I always have the blank page, and that is enough sometimes to bear witness.
Getting out more isn’t just a measure of how far you need to go, but how far you have come. And I, dear readers, am happy to say that I have come so very far. Yet there are many miles left to go.
Thank you for reading.