Practicing Courage

 

For Writers Island prompt:  Courage
http://writersisland.wordpress.com/

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.

__Dean Koontz

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.

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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20 Responses to Practicing Courage

  1. I was writing my comment. And totally lost my comment. So I am back. I think you have put your finger on some fears. Looking foolish, and this includes speaking out. I agree with what you have written. It even takes courage to get up in the morning. It takes courage to put oneself out there. To “speak out” this brings up so much fear. But when we stop and think about it. We are all foolish, or fools sometime. We are just human. So we will hold hands like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and travel the yellow brick road. Have you noticed, it is easier when you walk with someone?

    • 1sojournal says:

      Lol, Annell, there is nothing better than sharing the foolishness, especially since if it doesn’t turn out well, you still have a hell of a story to tell afterward. All surrounded by nodding smiles and shared laughter. That’s never a bad outcome.

      And yes, there are those days when it takes courage to get out of bed. I have found that much easier since finding so many good friends here online. And although each post, is still ultimately mine, at least now, I know, I will have friends to share those feelings with. Friends who will reach out from long distances and give me cyber hugs and the warmest words of encouragement.

      Thanks for being one of them,

      Elizabeth

  2. Thoroughly agree with you here. Indeed, I write on many subjects that even approaching them makes many people think me a damn fool. Similarly, I’ve just begun a new technically ambitious website. Okay, I’m getting a helping hand from my whizz kid tech son – who no doubt thinks me a damn fool with some of the tech mistakes I make 🙂
    In the end, as I’ve written many times, regarding those inevitable mistakes: wise people begin as idiots.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Oh Anthony, so glad you shared that. I have no one around me physically who is even remotely interested in blogging and most think I’m a bit daft for even doing it. You are so lucky to have your son to help you out.

      And I so love those final words: “wise people begin as idiots.” I plan on going right on learning til my last breath. I may never be considered wise, but I still think that is a most worthwhile goal. And maybe the real fools are those who choose to define others with that label. Thank you, as always, Anthony. You make me think,

      Elizabeth

  3. Your post made me think of this quote I used to have over my desk at work many years ago: “When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So, what the hell, leap!” – Cynthia Heimel

    • 1sojournal says:

      Flying Monkey, what a wonderful quote. Creativity has long been held up close to the concept of Madness. And they actually share somethings in common. But diverge at the most important places. I figure, I might be crazy but my craziness is far more satisfying than many of those around me who are so terrified of ever looking the least bit foolish. Foolishness can be some of the very best fun. Thanks for the quote,

      Elizabeth

  4. vivinfrance says:

    A very penetrating summation, Elizabeth. And you’re still prodding me to read Dean Koontz
    ViV

    • 1sojournal says:

      Lol, the technical thing I spoke of was also about Dean Koontz. I have so many quotes from the man, and the poem using his quotes went over so well, and we are doing those daily stones, that I decided I wanted some way to put up “found stones” on the 1sojournal blog. I found an app that seemed to promise me that ability, but turned out to have quotes already on it and wouldn’t allow me to do that. However, I quickly realized that getting rid of the app, left me a clear and distinct space for doing exactly what I had set out to do. And don’t worry, they won’t all be Dean Koontz quotes. I have a lot of others that deal with writing as well as self-exploration.

      I do not mean to prod anyone other than myself. His words resonate within me, and I’m thinking they do the same for you, lol. Happy reading, Viv, and thanks for taking the time to stop and comment. You are definitely one of the individuals I had in mind while writing this,

      Elizabeth

  5. pamela says:

    Elizabeth, how right you are to have posted this timely writeup. I have just been thinking
    about this subject. I need a lot of courage to post to my blog. I am very fortunate to have
    met a group of people, such as yourself, who make me feel comfortable. I commend anyone who is willing to put themselves out there for the world to see.
    Pamela

    • pamela says:

      Oh yeah, my typing skills could always use improvement, 🙂
      look at those linebreaks, yikes!

    • 1sojournal says:

      I really marvel, both at those who do this thing we do, and at those who haven’t a clue why we do this thing we do. Someone close to me, periodically, tells me that I must get off this computer and meet some ‘real’ people. I don’t know what she means by ‘real’ people. Those who are more like her and a lot less like me? Been there, done that, and do know what satisfies me most. Like minds and spirits.

      I’m glad that I have made you feel comfortable. It’s nice to know that ones efforts are seen and felt. But, you have done the same and more. And let’s hope we can continue to have the willingness and courage to keep putting ourselves out there. I love this community, it has given me so much.

      Thank you for being a part of that, Pamela,

      Elizabeth
      PS Sometimes I just have to take a break and write some prose because otherwise the poetry starts getting tangled up. Do you feel the same way?

  6. Deborah says:

    Wise words indeed. I do think when we stop worrying about looking silly, life becomes a lot easier … it took me a long time to learn this, but I’m so glad I did (I still do have my moments though!) a wonderful post.

    • 1sojournal says:

      Thank you, Deborah and it takes all of us a long time to learn it, except those who are born with an ‘old’ soul, which I believe is quite rare. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still learning it and probably will be until my last breath. I guess that means that although my body is old, my soul is still the one that originally came with the rest of the equipment. I’m just very grateful it is one that seeks to learn and grow.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting,

      Elizabeth

  7. RJ Clarken says:

    Elizabeth – first, I am glad your friend understood your message and the friendship, therefore has room to grow and bloom.

    I’m also glad you discovered that not only are you not a technonincompoop (love that word!) but courageous enough to step out of your comfort zone and make your world happen.

    Can you imagine what would happen if you – or we, by extension – just sat there and said ‘what if?’ but never actually sought out the ‘what if?’

    Brava!

    • 1sojournal says:

      Curiosity is a wonderful gift my father bequeathed to me. He saw the ‘what ifs’ as a challenge. There are many who see them as an invitation into chaos, therefore to be feared. I think that is sad. Creativity is the essence of ‘what if’ life experience. Without it, we would live in a perpetual Dark Age, that gives nothing back except silence and the darkness of unknowing. A life lived in shadows too deep to penetrate. Gives me the ‘willies’, just thinking about it.

      Thanks so much for your comments, RJ,

      Elizabeth

  8. wayne says:

    well I am really “stuck” in adding to what has been said….I really like what you have done here….thanks for sharing this

  9. Mary says:

    Elizabeth, I agree with you that bloggers are courageous. It took me a long time to decide I could put my work ‘out there.’ You are a very open and honest person, in your blogs and from what I know of you outside your blog. You are an example in so many ways. You definitely exemplify courage! I am glad to know you, to count you as friend.

    • 1sojournal says:

      And I feel the same way about you Mary. Glad to see you here, and hope that means that you are getting time for yourself. You certainly need and deserve it. You have given so much to this community. I deeply appreciate your kind words, and am just as glad to count you as friend,

      Hugs,

      Elizabeth

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