Let us be brave, and live brave lives. Simple statement, enormous rewards.
When I was a small girl of about five or six, I began to suffer from night terrors. My poor parents, exhausted with their full time jobs and the weighty business of raising five kids, scarcely had the time
or energy to deal with a sensitive child like me. My benevolent older sister held me tight sometimes to give me some sense of security in the hopes that I would be able to sleep, but eventually even her eyelids grew heavy and she drifted off. What ensued, what always followed was a long night in the dark, the soft sounds of everyone sleeping around me, shadows playing menacingly on the walls, and doorknobs turning by invisible hands. It was then that I learned what my own heartbeat sounded like, pounding up in my throat, body taut, hands gripping the blanket, and eyes wide, watching, waiting, praying for the sweet release of dawn.
My mom and dad, not quite knowing how to handle this overly sensitive child, assured me that I was safe, that burglars did not creep around in the dark while children slept, and no one was going to “get me”.
My dad even produced a baseball bat which he dramatically placed at the head of my bed so I could whack any would-be intruders who dared to come near. He tried so earnestly to appease my fears that I hadn’t the heart to tell him that what I feared was much bigger than something that could be stopped by a baseball bat. All my demons were inside of my head, and there was no outrunning them.
We all have fears, whether we’re six or sixty years of age, and while we may no longer fear the night, we each have our malevolent shadows, whether they be in the form of worry, anxiety, or any one of countless unnamed fears. It’s part of the human condition, and while they may shape-shift over the years, taking on new forms and presentations, we are all haunted to one degree or another.
It is often said that most of our fears never come to pass, and thankfully, this is true. But some do, and when that happens, we have no choice but to face and deal with them. What we do have a choice about is how we deal with them. We can do it by avoidance, by simpering and cowering, torturing ourselves every step of the way, or we can just face whatever it is, head-on, nose to nose, go the ‘full monty’ so to speak.
Having had experience with both methods, I know for sure that bravery is best. It is the least painful, the quickest, and the most effective. I know because I’ve lived a long life, and I’ve faced my share of demons, both real and imagined. I wish that little six year old girl had known what I know now, because instead of trembling under the blankets, waiting for the demons to come for her, she would have stood tall on that bed, bat in hand, smacking it against her left hand, shouting, “C’mon you bastards. I’ve got something for you, and I haven’t got all night, so let’s move this along!”
Bravery, as you know, isn’t the absence of fear. It’s facing the fear and doing whatever needs to be done. Anyway. Bravery opens new doors, offers us unending vistas of opportunity and experience, not just for today either, but for the rest of our lives. Bravery is the secret key that fits the lock, and once you have it, no one and nothing can ever hold you back again. And it feels good. Very good.