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Courage Under Fire

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

I often tell my Son, "good character is doing what you are supposed to do, even when nobody is watching you". Good character transcends theological, and even political belief. It is what allows a person to be forthright (straight-forward), while being honest (free of deceit, and sincere). But the action of good character (what you are supposed to do) is much easier than knowing what exactly you should or should not be doing. We do not hold a warrior's character in the same regard as a painter. A warrior can kill and still be of good character while if a painter murders someone else they will absolutely be judged for it. Unfortunately, our current society often blurs the lines of good character in order to remain in step with a specific narrative/perception. This muddies the water of accountability and is not easily navigated without help. It takes a vulnerable courage to be of good character in a world that seems hellbent on doing whatever it wants.

Throughout my life I have always tried to be of good character, doing exactly what I am supposed to do, even if I did not like nor believe in it. My challenge in this has often been that I superimpose my perception of what I am supposed to do on top of anything and everything I am doing. It's that classic "me vs. me" thing where I proactively criticize, and judge myself so that no one else can. I HATE to be shamed, especially publicly. So being my most critical judge has often meant tackling every possible angle of a situation in my head prior to ever taking a first step. Needless to say, paralysis by analysis has mangled my sense of things more than once, and transformed my intentions from a dedication to be of good character, into a dedication to not be shamed. The unfortunate end result of both of these was a DEEPLY narcissistic self expression that crept in and infected the most important areas of my life- a sense of self. intimate & familial relationships, friendships and career. I basically created my own imposter syndrome, and the confidence people often associate with me is how I have kept this truth a secret. But as always, things change.

As I have embraced a personal principle of "surrender > control" I have learned to let go of defensive confidence, and pick up vulnerable courage when I am in the whirlwinds of change often thrust upon me. In fact, impermanence is the only thing I truly rely on at this stage in my life- everything is going to change, and that is what makes each moment so precious. It may sound cliche, but a loss IS just a lesson, IF you are willing to surrender to what you need to learn. If you are unwilling or unable to pivot and adapt to the incessant fluctuating tides of life, you will find much more hardship than harmony. Here is an example...

A Man is standing on the banks of an increasingly treacherous raging river. It is hurricane season, and he's late to venture to the safe side of the island. If he cannot get to the other side soon, he will drown before nightfall. He quickly constructs a raft and uses it to safely cross the river. As he pulls the raft onto land he is overwhelmed with joy! He places the raft on his head and begins to venture into the dense forest to find the rest of his people. But as he attempts to make his way through the dense tree cover, the raft keeps getting stuck and tangled into the foliage preventing him from moving forward. He only has one chance for survival, he must leave the raft behind.

~Buddhist Parable

The capacity to surrender to change rather than resist it forcefully is arguably the single most critical human form of courage. The parable underpins how imperative it is to surrender as the vessel that saved the Man's life yesterday is the same one that will kill him today, if he does not let it go. Life comes at all of us FAST, we have to have the courage to change, and most of us understand this. But it is our character (doing what you are supposed to do, even when nobody is watching you) on a daily basis that sets the tone for how swiftly we surrender to change. Good character runs parallel to vulnerable courage.

✌🏾 & 🤟🏾


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