Being Brave

When I was (a lot) younger, I did one of those jumping off a cliff into water things.

The experience has remained imprinted in my mind.

I don’t often do things that scare me but, in the heat of the moment, an unexpected sense of adventure caught me off guard.

I don’t know how high the cliff was but time was suspended, on the way down, and the exhilaration blew me away –

It blew me away and, yet, when I went to jump for a second time, I spent too long considering the action and, by the time my toes reached the crumbly red chalk of the edge, my nerve had disappeared.

I have been thinking a lot about courage recently.

About the fact that we have to do things that scare us on a daily basis; and, that, even if we’ve faced the fear before, the amount of courage required can be the same. That sometimes it takes the third – or fourth – or fifth – or hundredth time before the intensity of the fear dissipates. That the deep breath which precedes a jump into the ocean is the same as that which precedes a step into an unknown situation or a different space.

Last night, Sebastian Faulks was talking about literary heroes on BBC2. I tuned in just as he moved on to 1984 and I reached the “where exactly is this post going” point. This is what he was saying:

“Winston Smith is a new kind of hero, a hero who loses…..Winston’s heroism consists of the fact that he dares. He dares to write….he dares to think, he dares to love”

Courage is not necessarily about the outcome; the bravery is in the fact that he tried.

This shifts things.

It adds an element of empathy and an appreciation of the challenges inherent in life –

And so, this post is not about my next leap off a cliff into water (for the moment); it is about the courage to write, think, love, speak, live. About how I have spent a lot of my life being scared rather than courageous. How I have fixated on the outcome rather than the experience; worried about the reception rather than whether I am sticking to my beliefs.

This means that life has been about failing or succeeding –

And now I’m wondering whether it is also, or more so, about being constantly and openly brave.

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10 responses to “Being Brave

  1. Brilliant post and thought-provoking, resonant stuff. (And – talking of big leaps – timely as I remembered that I have a bungee jumped booked for next month and had a “yikes!” panic moment :O)

    There’s a huge amount of courage in actually daring, and I think you’re right in writing that that motivation actually means more than the outcome. If hypothetically I choose to jump off the cliff into the water then I face the fear and triumph over it. I could fall off the edge into the water by accident and then I’ve done it but not made the choice and felt the courage and there’s a difference.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this – inspiring and an essential reminder about facing challenges and daring. Bravery is more the belief, experience and mindset than the outcome. 🙂

    • Bungee jump really?! That’s a great point about making choices I think. It also raises some interesting questions about control. Owning choices takes the control back – and jumping into the unknown means embracing the unknown where anythings possible. For me, fear comes from feeling out of control or from trying too hard to control. Not sure where this all fits together but thanks for giving me more to think about. xx

  2. Awesome food for thought and just what I needed to hear.
    Thank You.

  3. Beautiful, Melissa. Love. It. Love it.

    This: “Courage is not necessarily about the outcome; the bravery is in the fact that he tried”, is timeless. Thanks for sharing it.

    • Going to keep reminding myself of it too I think. If the pressure’s off, it’s far easier to keep trying and being brave.

  4. Excellent thoughts.
    Really love the way you’re actively looking and working and believing.
    You are an inspiration.
    Thank you for writing and being here.

  5. Thanks Becky – that means a lot. I’m trying to pad out what I need to be brave about so the active bit is ongoing…but the support I’ve received online is definitely giving me more courage. xx

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