Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."--Andre Gide

What coast are you edging along?  Is your island of safety that unsatisfying relationship or job?  Then you know what kind of courage it takes to let go of the known and venture into the vast sea of possibilities looking for the lover or career that truly suits you.
Don't despair. You're right to stay where you are if you haven't yet charted a course towards your new life.
The good news is, when you know what you don't want you can clearly see what you do want.  Ponder the contrast until your goal is obvious.
Now you have a treasure map; now you're no longer sailing into the unknown, for your clarity will unerringly lead you towards the satisfaction of your desires.
X marks the spot!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."-- John Irving

I have a friend who loves being an office worker, but she's ashamed to say so.  Shouldn't a life that deserves a word like "love" be a romantic creative venture?
I don't think so.
It's a misperception that an ordinary life must be stultifying and unsatisfying.
It's weird that society has rules about what kind of life deserves our passion, but it seems to. Therefore it's important to ignore societal pressure and just love what you love and "have the courage to live it".
When you do this, you're doing us all a favor. You help us expand the definition of what a "good life" is and you inspire others to live their choices with grace and pride.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want." -- Miguel Angel Ruiz

Why is it so hard to ask for what we want?  Why does a simple demand for clarity--or a statement of preference-- feel so revealing, so weak? We often prefer groping in the dark, hoping to find our own answers rather than ask a question that risks exposing our ignorance.
Why do we pretend we're perfect when we're not? Why is is so hard to be human?
Our arrogant desire to be "right" might be the very thing that's pushing us toward extinction. Perhaps having the courage to be humble, knowing we don't have all the answers, might lead us in a direction that guarantees our survival.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Do you really think it is weakness that yields to temptation? I tell you that there are terrible temptations which it requires strength, strength and courage to yield to."-- Oscar Wilde9

Oscar describes here the continual battle to be yourself when the social norms are against you.
In this quote he was probably describing his struggles as a homosexual in Victorian England.  You couldn't be good if you were gay.  His yielding to those "terrible temptations" landed him in jail for his perceived immorality.
Being "of one's time" usually refers to a person who has followed the era's "correct" social behavior and opinion. A visionary refers to someone who can see how the future might be improved if social norms change.  A person of courage is one who moves to change the restrictions and morals that turn harmless behavior into "terrible temptations" and thus creating more openness and freedom for us all.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"The weak in courage is strong in cunning."-- William Blake

Anyone with parents knows this, so I guess that means all of us.
How many times did we obfuscate, subvert, and divert attention to do what we know they didn't want us to do. We watched them like hawks to suss out how we could get around their attention and their questions. When asked directly whether or not we did thus and so, we LIED!
Cunning? Yes. Courageous?  Not so much, but in our defence we lied to keep everyone happy.  Our parents were much happier, because they wouldn't like knowing who we really were and what we really did, and we were much happier because we got to do what we wanted.
Win, win.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"One of the marks of a gift is to have the courage of it."-- Katherine Anne Porter

I don't know if Katherine is right in all cases, but I would definitely change the "C" word from "Courage" to "Compulsion" when looking at the gifted.
It seems to me that people with a gift can't help but do what they do.  It's all they want to do, it's all they need to do, it's a focused attention to one thing that's almost superhuman.
With the gifted, excellence comes naturally.  They do what they do very, very well--as well they should. Their focus from birth is to express the gift they've been given and share it with others.
It takes work to fashion raw talent into fabulous, amazing art; work and dedication that's harder to maintain when you aren't "gifted".  The frustration of the merely talented when they compare themselves with the gifted must be overcome, for it takes courage for talented artists to keep going in the face of a gifted person's effortless competence and mastery.
I would say that the mark of a talented artist is to have the courage of it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Necessity does the work of courage."-- Nicholas M. Butler

Yes, I guess it does.
When you absolutely have to, come hell or highwater, do what you are afraid to do, then you summon the courage to accomplish that task.  Necessity does do the work of courage then, but true courage means that you stand up for what's right whether you "need" to or not.  You do it because it's the only thing a person of integrity can do.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die."-- Gilbert K. Chesterton

And there are so many ways to die.
You can, of course, actually give up the ghost; but you can also die of embarrassment, die of shame, die of loneliness, and die for love, to mention just a few.  All metaphoric, of course, but so much more painful and enduring than simply croaking. At least when you shuffle off your mortal coil you don't have to feel anything anymore.
It really does take a lot of courage to put your pure sweet self out there for all to see and await the consequences. The "what ifs" are as myriad as the ways to die.  But the rewards for having the guts to reveal your shining soul through your work, your image, your creativity, and your opinion with as much truth as you can muster are well worth the anxiety.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

"Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it."-- Leonardo da Vinci

Just as our sense of touch makes doing something that might harm the body painful, so fear protects us from doing something foolhardy.
Being afraid with good cause is nothing to be ashamed of.  Looked at clearly, and without judgement, one can see that there is a proper place for fear in our lives. The problem comes when our fears keep us from living fully and joyfully.  It's at that point when courage is required.
Remember, though, that acts of courage are relative.  An introvert might need enormous reserves of courage to do what an extrovert does eagerly: enter a room full of people.
Don't judge or compare yourself to others. If you do, you might decide to override a justified fear response for the sake of your ego.  If you want to be a hero, remember that it also takes considerable courage to trust your feelings, honor yourself, and be who you really are.

Friday, October 18, 2013

"It takes great courage to be vulnerable. It takes enormous strength to be a real woman."-- John Eldredge

If  "vulnerability" means being in touch with and able to display emotion, than I say that women are comfortable with that. The realm of "emotion" is a familiar friend to them. I'll go farther. I'd say that women are supposed to be vulnerable--soft, penetrable, fragile and weak.
It takes courage for women to be hard, impenetrable, durable and strong.  That's flying in the face of the stereotype.  Men are supposed to be those things.
John's gender bias is showing when he claims that "real women" have the courage to be vulnerable, and that the proof of their womanliness can be seen in their relative vulnerability.
Poppycock!  Real women are all sorts of things, and maybe vulnerable too. It depends upon the woman.
I've got a radical notion! Let's have the courage to allow all human beings to be human--blessed with a full range of whatever emotions and feelings they need and want to express.
We've got to get over trying to fit men and women into a narrow ideal of gender reality; but if we're going with a stereotype, John, I'd say that it takes real courage to be a vulnerable man.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Acting is really about having the courage to fail in front of people."-- Adam Driver

Acting is about finding the truth of the part you play and capturing it so well that the audience understands your character fully.
Living is about finding the truth within yourself and having the courage to live that so clearly that everyone understands YOU fully.
Because there is always a danger that you will fail in your attempts to bring meaning and excitement to your character--if you're an actor--or your life--if you're you, courage is required; that and a new idea of what "failing" really is.
If you don't try anything new, you will never fail. If you don't try anything new, you will soon feel like you're not living a rich, full life.
Fail spectacularly.  Fail beautifully.  Fail, fail, fail, for each failure carries within it the seeds of your next, wonderful triumphs.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"I never thought much of the courage of a lion tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people."-- George Bernard Shaw

George has a point.
I think, when it comes right down to it, our fears--and therefore our need to be courageous--stem from our relationships with people.
In small, look at the bullying some of us faced from bad parents or the mean kids at school.  In large, look at the institutionalized social bullying of women, people of color, and the poor.
From these experiences we observe that our own kind can be pretty terrifying.
People are herd creatures, and when you're booted out of the herd, you lose the safety in numbers that keep the lions from eating you; although the pain of being ostracized is so acute that some might wish to just put their heads in a lions mouth and get it over with.
It takes the courage of  people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and many others (hopefully including ourselves) who address the needs of the "out" group and move them back into our growing, and gradually more tolerant, social mainstream.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"I want to grow old without facelifts. I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I have made."--Marilyn Monroe

This is a wonderful statement, a wonderful idea.  It's so true, on a deep intuitive level, that the faces we wear really do reflect our life experiences.
Marilyn never had the chance to grow old, but I bet she would have had the courage to leave her face be, therefore honoring her life.
Why are we ashamed of the lines of age? We earned every one.  They speak of our relationships, our fears, our joys, and our sorrows and our triumphs.  Our faces are our history.
Why do we decide that our history is unimportant--and further, that we are worthless if we're no longer youthful and/or beautiful?  Is our worship at the feet of Venus really more important than our personal history and integrity? Marilyn Monroe, the Venus of the 20th century, didn't think so.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"People don't follow titles, they follow courage."-- William Wells Brown

We've been trained to disregard the currents of energy that run between us.  We've been taught to admire who people say they are, rather than what they do (Ignore the man behind the curtain!)
But despite what we've been taught, I think we intuitively feel when someone is truly admirable. We sense a certain solidity and dependability in those who have the courage to follow their truth.
These are people who aspire to nothing more than personal integrity, for really, what else is of value in the world?
We trust that, and we trust them because they have the courage to trust themselves.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage." Thucydides

In a nutshell, team!
There is nothing better than to feel free, and freedom is more than just physical mobility. Freedom has an emotional component.  When your pain body or inner critic keep telling you who to reject, where you shouldn't go, how you won't succeed, when you should be quiet, and what not to do are silent, that's when you're truly free--and happy.  
Rejecting our deepest desires to win approval from, anyone, even people we don't even know, makes us unhappy, and having the courage of our convictions supports our evolution, transformation, and animation.
Cowardice betrays. Courage frees, and here just reread Thucydides' quote.
It really is that simple.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor - I will need them all."-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The times are tough and seem to be getting tougher.
Anne provides us with the perfect tools to help us manage life's twists and turns--a recipe, if you will, for facing our problems and charting a way through them with grace and power.   .
And so, with her inspiration, I wish all of us "courage, strength and a sense of humour"--for in uneasy times like these we really do need them all!

Friday, October 11, 2013

"You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you have never had the courage to commit."-- Oscar Wilde

Oscar nails the love/hate relationship our culture has with artists.
It takes courage to be a social outsider, as most artists are.
Many fictional and historical heroes are also outsiders: Superman, Wonder Woman, Davy Crockett, Joan of Arc, Sacajawea, the list goes on and on.
What artists and heroes contribute to the culture is the ability to step outside of it, see it clearly, and propose creative solutions for the emotional and cultural ills they see.
Some might think that going outside the norm is a sin. Some have gotten killed in the cause of radical, and necessary, social change. That's why it takes courage to step out of mass consciousness, think for oneself, and take the steps needed to right the wrong or raise our consciousness.
Heroes and artists rock the boat.  They're not afraid of getting wet; in fact their natures require a refreshing plunge in the sea of possibilities from time to time--as do we all.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."--Erich Fromm

It's our old friend "creativity" again.
That's the topic we covered in quotes last month.
It's easy to see how creativity dovetails into courage, and visa versa.  "Letting go of certainties" is a prime requirement of both, and can make you feel like you're on the edge of a metaphorical cliff.  
Jumping is one option, and then the question arises: will you fall or will you fly? 
There is another option, of course, and that is to do nothing.
I've always wanted to fly myself.
How about you?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"From caring comes courage."-- Lao Tzu

How true, Lao Tzu!
Anyone who has been a parent knows that they will protect to the death this young life that is now in their hands.  Afraid of bullying authorities?  Maybe at one time, but just let that school principal do your kid wrong and he'll have you to deal with.
How wonderful that love, rather than fear, can be a compelling impetus to make the home, the schoolyard, the society, the environment, and the world a better place for one and all.
When you think about it, love has given birth to more life embracing moral codes than many religions.
To name just a few, we have the:
Love of freedom: which gave us the Abolition of Slavery
Love of fairness: which gave us Womens Suffrage and Labor Unions
Love of animals: which gave us the SPCA (among others)
Love of the world: which gave us the Environmental Movement
It's love that truly does change the world, and it's love that gives you the courage to inspire that change.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Courage is grace under pressure."-- Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is famous for this quote.  He's such a romantic, and I get what he means.
It brings to mind a western sheriff, reluctantly but bravely mastering his fear as he stoically faces the bad guy, cool as the proverbial cucumber.
The response to pressure can feel a lot like fear, and fear is not usually "grace" full at all.
Fear has lots of manifestations.
It sounds like nervous stuttering when stating ones truth to an angry authority figure. It smells like sweat as one gathers ones resources to defend oneself from attack. It feels like a pounding heart as one's adrenaline kicks in as a response to danger.
How one deals with pressure need not be ideal (i.e. graceful) to be courageous. Just facing one's fears is courage enough.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new." Alan Cohen

Releasing the familiar and embracing the new is what transformation is all about.  It's how we discover what works for us and what doesn't.  It's how we grow into our true selves
We often get stuck going nowhere--in relationships, career choices, etc.--because we simply lack the courage to strike out for what we really want: the sense of aliveness and purpose that comes when we know we're doing the right and perfect thing ourselves.
It requires a degree of self trust as well as courage to "release the familiar". We've often grown relatively comfortable with what we've got, no matter that it no longer satisfies us.  We've also been convinced since childhood by our parents, friends, teachers, and co-workers that it's better to be safe than sorry, but in truth and in the end, if we don't have the courage to go outside our comfort zone and change when change is warranted, then sorry is what we'll be.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"Have the courage to say no."--W. Clement Stone

Such a tiny little word, yet, often, so hard to say.
No one wants to disappoint, or let down, or be an impediment to anothers wishes;, yet so often "no" is the answer that best reflects our own needs and desires--and those we need the courage to honor .
In this culture with its emphasis on a "going along to get along" conformity, we too often put ourselves on the backburner. We think we don't know enough to make the right decision.  We follow the leader, possibly ignoring a strong gut feeling that what we're saying "yes" to is not the best choice for ourselves or others.
For what if our "no" supports a better plan, a more humane choice, an opportunity to devise a more creative solution?
Your thoughtful "no" could lead to a better world.
Think about that.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. --Anais Nin

Anais is absolutely right!
When we're worried about what other people think, we tend to walk the straight and narrow no matter how divergent our true path.  We think that we'll be OK when we bow to mass consciousness, but we end up feeling terrible, like we've given up something important.
And we have.
We are each here to offer our own unique perspective to the world.  Have the courage to expand yourself and the world we all live in by freely giving your viewpoints, creativity, and aliveness. That's what makes the world the vast and wonderful place it is.
Yes, you really are just that important.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction." --John F. Kennedy

Do you have dreams of a perfect world?  Do you feel in your heart that you have a specific "purpose and direction" in your life, and know that your dreams indicate exactly what those are?
If so, do you make an effort to make your dreams a reality?  Have you charted a course toward your true north and are you walking the path towards your heart's desires?
If your answer is "yes" to these questions, I compliment you not only on your courage, but also on your clarity.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."--C. S. Lewis

C. S. makes a great point.  Courage isn't just the "form of every virtue", it shows us the form of who we are. It's hard for us to know if we really believe what we say we believe unless we're tested, and the tests often come in the form of ourselves against our world.
If we cave and let the world win, that shows that "approval" is the form of our particular virtue.
How painful it is when our fear of abandonment encourages us to abandon ourselves.
Courage helps us keep our steps firmly on our own path, say what we truly feel, and pass the test of personal integrity.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."--Mark Twain

To be fearless is to be foolhardy.  When you have no fear, you are lacking a vital emotional element that keeps you alive.
It's like not having the sense of touch.  When you can't feel anything, you don't know when you've been injured, and when you don't know if you've been injured, death is dead ahead.
Fear keeps you cautious.
That's not a bad thing when you're approaching a pride of lions on your safari in Africa. You stay in the jeep and listen to the guide for instructions on how to make your way safely through that circumstance.
Too little fear means you jump out of the jeep and start to play with that darling lion cub. Ouch.
Too much fear and your imagination kills your desire. You don't go on the safari in the first place. You anticipate personal injury and possible death and stop dreaming of Africa before you even buy the plane tickets.
In short, too much fear and you stop living because you're irrationally afraid of dying.
Courage is when you are afraid, but you see that the fear blocks your way to something you've always wanted; so you analyze your desire and come to a full understand of the risks and benefits.  You then make the proper preparations and take the necessary precautions to minimize the risks, realize you're up to the challenge, and you go for it.
Bon voyage.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

"And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition".--Steve Jobs

Last month we discussed creativity, and I learned several things.
Creativity is natural, not the exclusive property of the artist.  Everyone is creative, in ways large and small, but many people confuse being creative with being an artist.
They are not the same.  Creativity doesn't take work, but doing a piece of genuine art does.
Creativity can also take courage, since often our creative impulses are pushed aside by all sorts of forces, both societal and personal, that want to keep us from growing and changing.
Therefore, in the scary month of October, The Daily Kris is taking a look at what it means to have courage. Steve Jobs starts us off.