It’s getting real now.
In the last week, the packers and movers have cleared out our house and it has gone on the market. My greatest accomplishment during this time might have been cleaning out — and cleaning up — our refrigerator. I also pet-wrangled the cat and dog to a hotel and then on a 10-hour drive to Washington to meet Mark and Jack, no small feat either. In two weeks, we will be starting our cross-country drive to Tijuana.
In the middle of all this, I’ve been sneaking in chapters of Brene Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” about what courage looks like and what prevents us from taking the risks that make life so rewarding. Her title comes from Teddy Roosevelt, who memorialized “the man who is actually in the arena” and is thus “daring greatly,” even if he fails.
I was hoping maybe I could figure out how to stock up on some of this courage stuff, given how uncomfortable I’ve felt, amid all the goodbyes, when people say, “You all are so brave!” I haven’t felt brave one time — brave in the sense of determined to be victorious and sure of my mission.
So what’s the key?
Brown’s research shows that courage requires vulnerability, or opening ourselves to criticism without knowing for certain if we are right or if we will succeed. Vulnerability often feels like weakness, rather than courage, because our culture requires — and rewards — a show of certainty. We put on this show because of shame, the sense that we are not strong or good enough, and thus we need to “armor up” or go on the attack ourselves.
In fact, she said, courage inevitably involves uncertainty and doubt, and it can be terribly uncomfortable, not knowing for sure but doing anyway.
All of a sudden I had a more optimistic word for all the discomfort I’ve been feeling.
And I must say I am forever grateful to this author for offering me a way to think of this move to Tijuana and a new life as courageous, defining courage as leaving one’s comfort zone (and I LOVE my comfort zone, love it) for the possibility of much, much more.
So onward to the next task, which may be even more daunting than cleaning the refrigerator. I’m uncomfortable all right, and it may not go nearly as well. But it also may be worth it.