You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.
I have been thinking about courage a lot lately. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. This is a definition that resonates with me. There are many things to fear in our lives, much that wearies us, and dangers to face. Difficulties (whether temporary or sustained) are constant companions on our road through life. None of us make the journey without challenges, and it seems to me that often these challenges appear designed to open doorways into parts of ourselves that we would rather not see or engage with. I know there are elements of myself I like to keep hidden, even from myself. Patterns of thought and being that I push from conscious awareness. David Whyte speaks to this reality when he says: “…we have unconsciously created a work world so secondary, so complex, and so busy and bullied by surface forces that, embroiled in those surface difficulties, we have the perfect busy excuse not to wrestle with the more essential difficulties of existence.”
I like comfort; I enjoy stability. Challenge and fear are things I would rather banish from my life. But it is fear that calls me to reach beyond the confines of what I know, beyond my current capacities. My life is richer and more spacious for all the times I’ve faced the voice of fear and ventured out into what frightens me. Sometimes the journey takes me further into the outer world of relationships and new skills. Other times it takes me into realms of inner searching, redefining my convictions and perspectives. This process is essential if I am to move into my world with purpose and intention. Aristotle speaks of courage and honour. I think perhaps that honour cannot exist without courage. It is the courage to consistently engage with fear and difficulty that gives us the foundation stones of a character that can act with integrity and honour.