To standardize courage, with all it’s variance, would be like declaring that all leaves are a single hue. For those of us who have dedicated time to laying under trees and observing the myriad of overlapping green spearheads backlit by sunlight on a cyan sky will attest, not all green is the same. So then, not all forms of courage are green or vanilla and it is drawn upon in varying ways. Courage is an internal force that readies us for action or re-action to an external force. It can propel us with vigor into the next immediate moment or steady us to remain still, patient and focused over time. With frequent exposure to sensational and fast news we are trained to applaud stories of forceful courage. What about the courage it takes to actively resist being catapulted by an over coiled media springboard into the deep end of a pool? Do you really want to freestyle it in the fast lane of a race that you did not even sign up to swim?
For the less physical types, courage could be experienced as a musical bridge. From the choral exhilaration of launching to the quiet fortitude of observing and listening, we have a courage volume control. Regardless of your preference or place on the bridge, the volume is turned up to 10. A crisis requires your courageous reaction equal to the event itself, so your dial slides up. Also, persistent unbalanced social pressures and negative influence build up over time, like water torture, so responding with a quiet truth requires your courage dial is also locked on high.
How exhausting it is for humanity to meter an appropriate “volume” of vigilance and courage to react to inconsistent and unstable leadership. To have to dig deep into our store of integrity and truth in uncertain times; not quite stepping down and not quite showing up; living at a volume of 5 until the immediate moment passes is also incredibly wearing. On the surface one could argue it’s easier to respond to an obvious crisis than it is to respond with quiet, consistent and steadfast courage to the mixed messaging and poor role modelling of many leaders. I disagree. Although it seems the leadership stage and broad reporting is still set to amplify the loudest voices and the forceful frequencies of a few, it is a relief to witness many people choosing to tune out, mute the noise and turn up their own quiet courageous volume. En-masse it is sending a loud message and influencing elections, processes and systems all over the world.
Every day, people live their lives drawing on courage and it isn’t just those who have been through crisis. When we are brave and hold space and time for truthful conversation our courage dial is set to 10. It is worth the temporary discomfort because fronting up and living a connected and compassionate life means living with courage. The decision to grip onto the diving board or launch in the pool is your choice but the equalizer is the intensity or “volume” of courage you bring to either act. We are all drawing on courage.
I invite you to ask yourself just how much courage it takes to be yourself? Regardless of gender, employment, finances, relationship, family, education, race, religion or any one of the labels or devices we foolishly try to standardize the experience of humanity, it is courage that connects us. Could we, rather, see ourselves as the many shapes and shades of life. As the green spearheads, within an ever-changing and fragile ecosystem. Every one of us attached to a shared branch drawing on the courage to live, grow, blend and extend into that sun filled and cyan sky.
Live with a volume of courage that will change systems and uplift us all!