For Writers Island prompt: Courage
Out of curiosity, I plugged the word courage, into the search engine on this site. Not one essay, or poem, with that word in the title came up. Yet, several essays appeared that spoke about the issue of courage. I had only a vague idea that I might want to write about the courage I find here in the blogosphere, so, I went looking for a quote by my favorite author on the subject. And found one.
Nothing gives us courage more readily than the desire to avoid looking like a damn fool.
Although I would have to agree with my favorite author, I also think that just living on a daily basis gives us an incredible number of times and places to practice courage. Every choice, be it large or small, is an invitation to exercise the element of courage. Every choice. Because every choice becomes a matter of “Will I”, or “Won’t I?” And strangely enough, both responses need courage to bring about the chosen action. It takes just as much courage to say No, as it does to say Yes. Sometimes even more.
Personally, I think that bloggers are very courageous individuals. I am aware that each time I face that publish button, I hesitate a bit, “Do I really want to do this? Have I made myself clear? Have I checked for possible errors? Have I missed anything?” What I’m actually doing is checking to see if I have avoided making myself look like a damn fool (thank you, Mr. Koontz).
It isn’t always about that. Just this past week, I encountered two very different situations that called on me to practice courage. One was a letter I wrote to a new friend. It was a bit of a rant, and I knew, even as I wrote it, that I might be jeopardizing that new friendship. I decided I had to get myself clear of the feelings, so I went ahead with the letter. I also had some very real belief in my friend, that she would understand and perhaps, even agree with some of what I needed to express. Turned out, I was correct, but was holding my breath til I got her response.
The second situation concerned the mechanical aspects on one of my blogs. I had wanted to try something, but my technical skills are not high grade, and I was worried that I would mess it up badly. I’d been putting it off for several days because of my doubts concerning my own aptitude. It was important to me, so eventually I did try it. It turned out to be not what I really wanted, but in the course of trying it out, I discovered, on my own, how to get exactly what I’d had in mind all along. Whew! That was neat.
When I look back on both of those situations, I have to admit that part of my original hesitation had to do with what Mr. Koontz said so succinctly. I didn’t want to look foolish. But there were other concerns as well. I value my friendships deeply, and I also value my blogs and my own writing. Yet, I did decide that what I really wanted was more important than whether or not I ended up looking like a damn fool.
We all operate from the primary need to preserve self. And a huge part of that self is organized around how we appear to others because we also want to be accepted, to belong. That may make my preferred author’s statement the starting point of the whole issue about courage, and the first step in exercising that element of courageous behavior.
We are human, which means we are imperfect creatures who need to make mistakes in order to learn. Looking foolish is part of the ongoing human condition. I learned a great deal this week. I learned that I do have good instincts when it comes to choosing friends. I also learned that I might not be a total technonincompoop, lol. Courage pays off. I also learned that I do make good and effective choices on occasion, and that includes my choice in reading materials.
Bloggers may look, and seem, foolish to many, but we are definitely courageous fools, practicing and exercising that element on a daily basis.