In my admittedly half-hearted, but better-than-nothing attempt to imitate Ben Franklin and work on one virtue a week, I've dedicated the last seven days to courage.
This is what I learned:
1. I feel least courageous when I wake up in the middle of the night or after a nap. The world feels shadowy and unpredictable and treacherous at times like that.
2. Maybe I should take less naps.
3. I feel most courageous during the bright hours of the day when I'm actively doing something. Working. Walking. Singing along with Woody Guthrie or Aretha Franklin.
4. Maybe I should spend less time thinking and more time doing. And I DEFINITELY need more music in my life.
5. I am not called upon to save lives in my ordinary days. Courage for me is in little things: speaking up and saying what I really think, making the phone call I've been putting off, tackling an intimidating chore.
6. Courage sounds very lofty, but often it's a fool's virtue--not being afraid to be one, that is.
7. Most of our fears are based on a crazy misperception. We think we're immortal! If we were, every loss, every mistake WOULD be as monumental as we think it is.
8. A few times this week, I got a chance to share that good news with a frightened friend or family member: Whatever you're upset about, don't worry; it's temporary. YOU'RE temporary. I am too! Yippee!
9. Mostly, it helped; sometimes people just thought I was more crazy than they already believed. But because I was being foolishly courageous, I said it anyway.
10. Writing's temporary, too, though sometimes I start thinking that it's big and permanent and important; and then it saps my courage.
11. I refuse to be afraid of anything as small and antlike as words scuttling across a computer screen! I absolutely refuse.
12. Most days when I wake up, I lie in bed and think about things for a while. Sometimes I write a poem in my mind, but mostly, I just run a lot of petty things
and shadow thoughts through my head. It would be more courageous to jump up and face the day.
13. Tomorrow I will jump.
Next week: Equanimity