Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. - John Wayne
Courage is one of my personal core values. It goes right there next to integrity and creativity. I find that courage is seldom easy. In fact, it almost always pulls more out of me than I knew I had.
Courage is not the same as bull-riding or getting into a fist-fight. Sometimes it takes more courage to not do these things. I've come to think of courage as "leaning in." Lean in to that thing that causes you the most anxiety. Lean in to that issue that has its beginnings in justice, morality, ethical concerns. What's in there? Why does it hurt? Where are its deep-down origins? Like a root canal, sometimes courage hurts like the devil. But hold on! The pain of the thing might not hang around forever.
There have been a couple of times in my life when my body and mind mustered up more courage than I could imagine. The first was when our kids were babies. It was a cold winter afternoon. I saw a skunk in our yard - odd for a winter morning. I went outside to look and the skunk charged me. All I could think was that it was rabid. I remember thinking, "You are not gonna get to my babies." It did not.
The second incident was just a couple years ago. I was taking an intensive Spanish class as Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. I walked through a breezeway and I knew the sound instantly - a rattle snake rattle! Again, I had the sense, "It's you or me, and it ain't gonna be me!" I killed that snake with a stick! I would show you the picture as proof, but I'm not sure how you might feel about the cervesa in my hand. It isn't a secret. I sent the picture to the Bishop! I was proud it was the snake, not me. For the first, and only time in my life, I needed that cervesa!
Sometimes courage looks like speaking up. Sometimes it is being quiet. Sometimes courage looks a whole lot like honesty and being willing to speak truth into the void. Perhaps it is an action, or a stance. Whatever its form, courage has that "lean in" component. Knowing the inherent dangers we "saddle up" and do what's right anyway.