Saturday, July 3, 2010

Courage



Courage 

When the multi-volumed story of my life is finally complete,  I would like to think I shall be read as a plucky heroine, someone who could grab hold of the reins with finesse, someone unafraid of the dark, someone brave.  I know I can haul in an armload of firewood and have a roaring blaze crackling before dinner is on the table. I can dig a flowerbed. I can drive five hours to the beach by myself with only a bag of celery for sustenance and I can stop a snarling, charging dog in his tracks with a nothing but a strong yell and a fearsome look. (Okay, Edward helped with that last one, but I like to think that I played a part.)  I can write a blistering letter to the editor when the mood strikes me, and when faced with arrogance or rudeness, I assure you that I can be quite the master of the withering stare.  However, The Songwriter will tell you that a water beetle in the house can send me right up atop the kitchen counter, and frankly, I couldn’t change a tire if you paid me.  But then, there are all sorts of definitions for pluck, I suppose.  And as for bravery, it is a virtue to which I aspire, for it is one I have seen up close.

These days, as a culture, it appears to me that we admire quite different values than those of the past.  Bombast and swagger seem highly esteemed whilst the qualities of bravery and courage, so closely connected as they are with gallantry and honour, are rarely spoken of outside the theatre of war.   Real, personal bravery is quiet, and rarely noticed, but no less remarkable to me.  In our current age, it takes real bravery to live a life well-lived.  It is so much easier, so much more comfortable, to lock one’s door and remove oneself from all the troubles of the day.  It takes courage to step outside of oneself and into the shoes of another.  It requires courage to endeavour to make things better, to consider other ideas, to admit you don’t have all the answers.  Sometimes it takes great courage simply to put one foot in front of the other.

I see little acts of great bravery all around me these days.  They often accompany a dire diagnosis, or the loss of a job.  They appear in the form of a smile or a hug - good humour in a check-out line, or courtesy to a stranger.  They send someone off to a neighbor with a bouquet of garden roses, or to the telephone to call a troubled friend.  They are meals cooked and laundry done, work done well and laughter shared.  
Little acts of bravery, occurring in spite of it all.

The Songwriter’s best friend lost a twelve month battle with leukemia several years ago, a battle he faced with remarkable courage and humour.  I once asked him how he did it.  He told me that each morning, before his feet hit the floor, he made a conscious choice to be happy that day.  An amazing answer to my question.  An amazing act of courage.  The brave hero of his own life story.  Something I aspire to.


50 comments:

  1. A very good celebration of the simple courage around us. I like the wisdom at the end: happiness as a choice, not as a goal; happiness as the way, not the destination. So simple, yet it took me half a century to realize how true and relevant that is.

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  2. You spread encouraging words - and this is an admirable way to remember a friend and show that his message counts still.

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  3. Wise and true! Love that last statement of yours.

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  4. don't we marvel at the ability of others to withstand their trials. there are times when I look back and think-how did I hold up? when you are in a dire situation it seems you just -do. I was taught this child's proverb What we call luck is simply pluck,And the doing things over and over; Courage and will, perseverance and skill,
    Are the four leaves of Luck's clover. It stuck.

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  5. Thanks for writing this post, and the wise words within it.

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  6. Beautiful Pamela...well put.
    Now about that water beetle.....

    J:)

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  7. I echo the above - beautifully written and observed. I particularly liked the end, with the best friend making a conscious choice each day to be happy. I really like Lorenzo's comment on this, and also little augury's rhyme - not one I've heard before, so thanks.

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  8. HEAR HEAR...let me cheer for the wisdom in this post..:)

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  9. Dear Pamela, my sister in law recently battled throat cancer and survived but has now been diagnosed with a rare gene known as the BRCA1 gene. This means she has an 80 % chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer. To combat this it has been recommended that she have a hysterectomy and a double mastecomy even though there is no cancer evident. She will go through this next autumn. She is my hero. Tiffany is the kindest, most positive person I have ever known. Her laugh is infectious yet she works with women who are fleeing violent partners. Part of me is angry that it should happen to someone so loving and giving. But Tiffany has also showed me how to be forgiving and kind towards others. And as she says "love your life".

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  10. Another beautiful post Pamela. I do enjoy visiting with you and Edward. Such wonderful gifts of words you share!
    Hugs!

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  11. I am so sorry for the loss of a friend, Pamela. Your words are well placed and his courage to face each day with a purpose to be happy is commendable and a lesson for all. It is good to celebrate his life in such a way.

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  12. A lovely post, and a great dog!!

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  13. I absolutely see my friend Pamula as a woman of grace, lovely on the inside as well as the outside and - yes - a woman of courage.

    You are admired.

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  14. What a thought provoking post...so it sets me to thinking - hug Edward hard. Laugh when he wriggles and breathe in his doggy scent, then grab his fur and have a play tussle.... Perhaps, like me, these moments with four-paws can bolster whatever aspirations we may have for plucking bravery.

    Thank you for posting these sentiments.

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  15. Beautifully written Pamela, this is the sort of post the next generation needs to absorb, for I really believe their daily life will make them need to be braver than we have ever been.
    Sharon

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  16. Beautiful and eloquent words. I am wondering what a water beetle looks like and imagining the scene in your house when one appears.

    The bravest man I ever met was a pilot in the second world war, he flew a plane whilst the enemy fired at him, he was shot down several times, kept things under control when the plane was on fire thus enabling the crew to bale out, survived prisoner of war camp, the list goes on. He denied bravery, he said that flying held no fear for him, he believed that you are only brave when you do something despite being afraid.

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  17. I so agree Pamela! Tese are the true signs of courage and bravery. ALso another form of bravery to me, is not to give in to the ever increasing pressures of commercialism, and the want for materialist desires. Living each day following your heart is courageous too. When I received my cancer diagnosis, people called me brave, although I questioned their opinion, as I was a quivering frightened child inside. But I suppose it is the quietly getting on with it and facing it, which I did, that they meant! Have a lovely weekend. Suzie xxx

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  18. The greatest gift one can have, or give to their children, is the power to see courage and beauty in the everyday. Something that is dear to my heart and right up there on my Instructions For Life list.

    Wonderful post as ever, Pamela.

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  19. What a beautiful post.
    I love the Songwriter's friend's words.
    There are so many acts of courage all around me. Thanks for reminding me to celebrate them.

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  20. Thanks for this inspiring and right on time post. Happy July 4th.

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  21. Very thought-provoking words, Pamela. 'to admit you don't have all the answers' is rare, so rare. It seems like everyone you meet has the answers, and will tell you the 'truth' even if it isn't your own 'truth.' Answers have become more important than questions, than the act of questioning, wondering, thinking things through. Again, you express what we so often don't talk about, Pamela. In this way, I think you are a poet.

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  22. A soul-inspiring post. Thank you , Pamela

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  23. Thank you for your sweet words today, both here and on m blog.

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  24. Well-said Pamela - don't we all aspire to such heights. It is people who reach these heights who are the inspiration.
    I don't mind beetles but can foam at the mouth at the sight of a moth.

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  25. Very inspiring, Pam. I love your descriptive words of what courage is made of.

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  26. Very much enjoyed and appreciated this post. Courage is indeed more often quiet and under the radar. The world rarely knows true courage. I remember reading how President Gerald Ford showed political & ethical courage in pardoning President Richard Nixon. He knew he would never be elected to a second term but it was more important to help the country move on after Watergate. I appreciated that perspective. You have a lovely thoughtful blog, er, Edward does....

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  27. Choosing to be happy every day is a very good and smart decision. It Will make your life better, and therefore I shall CHOOSE to be happy every day as well.

    :)

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  28. Choosing to be happy every day is a very good and smart decision. It Will make your life better, and therefore I shall CHOOSE to be happy every day as well.

    :)

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  29. Lovely post Pamela! The word "bravery" is used so often to describe sporting feats and other unimportant things - how did we get so far from the real meaning of this word? Leigh

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  30. From a first time commenter --
    beautifully written and expressed with a full heart--
    Best wishes,
    BarbaraG

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  31. Beautifully said Pamela
    Sorry to hear of your loss... He has left a wonderful legacy... to choose happiness.. xxx Julie

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  32. What a wonderful gift he left you, and now you have passed his wisdom to us through your blog - it definitely takes courage to face each day and say today I choose to be happy when it seems the odds are stacked - such a powerful word, 'choose', as no matter what happens (or what is pre-determined) that decision is always ours. Thank you for sharing, and your blog, as ever, is one of life's treasures to me. :)

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  33. Yes, perhaps some of us don't realise when we are being brave, when there appear not to be any fire breathing dragons to face!

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  34. lovely Pamela as is your usual.

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  35. My brother's battle with cancer showed me too the bravery, strength and honor of the human spirit - something that will always be held fast in my heart now that he is gone from my sight. Thank you so very much for this beautiful piece, which speaks to my heart as oftern your postings do, Thank you..for showing us we need nt be int he throws of a catastrophic situation to show bravery and compassion..THANK YOU..not a big enough word for what you give to us..

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  36. Heroes are indeed found in everyday life, coincidentally I have just blogged a poem on similar lines.
    Wonderful post as ever, thank you.

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  37. I love how you describe yourself – exactly as I’d imagine from your delightful blog. I wish Edward and you could have lent a withering stare today to stop Stella before she knocked me over. She was a little too enthusiastic on our walk after our abandoning her to go to Canada for our anniversary. What an admirable friend to be happy even when fighting cancer – you must miss him very much.

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  38. True words Pamela, and somehow fitting for the Fourth of July weekend.

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  39. With sympathy for the loss of a friend,
    Donna

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  40. What a courageous man! So true, if we'd all make conscious efforts to be happy, to be grateful, to do what's right, the world would be a much better place. Happy Fourth, dear you! Enjoy!

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  41. thank you for posting that, pamela.

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  42. there is wonderful you tube video - i think it is nike, and a man makes all the excuses whilst shooting hoops, and then right at the end, the camera shoots to his wheelchair and no legs, now that is courage.
    pve

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  43. Your friend's courage is, or should be, an example to us all.
    I'm so sad you lost him.
    I get horribly upset by people being mean and unpleasant about STUFF THAT DOESN"TMATTERAT ALL
    and quite a lot of it doesn't.

    Sending you and Edward and Apple all best wishes for a happy 4th of July.

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  44. I could have used you the other day when my poor dog was attacked by another dog as I was walking her on a leash...Now that is scary and I didn't feel brave at all...

    Lovely post Pamela...there is bravery and there is Bravery...your friend had the second kind...

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  45. Lovely heartwarming stuff Pamela. I too like the choice of the dying man to be happy. As a nurse I have come across all sorts of reactions to life and death but the most humbling were those who kept quiet about their pain and problems and thought of others.

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  46. Life is definitely what one makes of it and sometimes the fight is needed to survive - here's to heros and heroines all!
    Thanks as always for this great post Pamela.

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  47. So true. So Often the little challenges in life can demand the greatest courage. Somewhere, sometime, I must have scrubbed floors day in, day out from dawn till dark for the term of my natural life. Consequently, washing the kithen floor is a huge challenge, Just the thought exhausts me.

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!