Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thought for the day...

My Seize the Day calendar has the following thought for today:

Courage is doing what you're afraid to do.  There can be no courage unless you're scared.  Edward Vernon Rickenbacker.

Hmmm...there have been a couple times in my life where I have been lauded for being "brave" for doing things that seemed really more like ... well, living day to day, to me.  So I got to thinking what these words mean...and whether having courage and being brave are the same thing.  Thanks to trusty old, here you have it:

/ˈkɜrɪdʒ, ˈkʌr-/ Show Spelled[kur-ij, kuhr-] Show IPA
the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
Obsolete . the heart as the source of emotion.

/breɪv/ Show Spelled [breyv] Show IPA adjective, brav·er, brav·est, noun, verb, braved, brav·ing.
possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.
making a fine appearance.
Archaic . excellent; fine; admirable.

So, I guess they are the same, general concept - but it doens't fit the thought of the day, since courage is to do something without fear and the thought of day says it isn't courage if you aren't afraid.  I think perhaps you could bring these into alignment if, instead, you said that courage is facing difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without REGARD TO fear.  That you are scared and you do it anyway. 

Am I courageous or brave, particularly?  I wouldn't say so.  Facing my husband's addiction and time away in treatment, I don't think I was "being brave" when I got up and went work and got my kids to school and held things together while parts of my life were in turmoil.  To me, there was no choice - I didn't have the luxury of laying down and pulling the blankets over my head.  I don't think it was notably brave when I kicked my first husband out and quit my job and moved from Minnesota to Seattle back in 1991.  Instead, I'd say I weighed the risks and benefits of my life as it was, versus my life if I changed pretty much everything.  I voted for the unknown over the dead-end known in that case, and moved forward. 

I would agree that most of the time I certainly have "the courage of my convictions".  If I have weighed the options and made a decision and started down a certain path, I normally do it without a lot of self-doubt and fear.  Healthy apprehension and concern for where I'm headed, sure, but if I've decided and my gut is at peace, then onward and upward!    


  1. Very thought provoking, Sarah :). I'd say I most definitely have the courage of my convictions as well. But I certainly don't feel brave about anything. Maybe I've never had the opportunity to be or act brave. Hmmm

  2. Now you've done it, Sarah. This post is stirring it up big-time for me. And for the record, having to extricate yourself from a marriage, move far away, and pick up the pieces, is as scary as it gets. You are a courageous person, who uses that courage to accomplish brave actions. They just don't award enough medals for bravery in the real world.

  3. You beat me to it! I have been playing with a piece on courage - what does it mean to be courageous? As Mark noted, extricating yourself from a marriage and rebuilding your life is all about courage - or is it trust in the way things will work out? Is courage really about trust? Leap and the net will appear? No matter what the leap? Is it courage if you are acting on a whim? Or when people say a person is brave b/c they are doing some daring feat (Evil Knevil, for example), that does not work for me - what's the point? What about doing some fantastic mountain climbing ? I guess that takes courage but NOT if you go into it without all the necessary planning and solid preparation - I have to think on this for awhile.

  4. I read the post this post inspired over at Mark's just a bit ago. I said over there that I think that everyday life with all of its messiness really does require a certain amount of courage/bravery. You basically say you've just done what you've had to do or felt was right in some rough circumstances--I kind of think that's what courage is made of.

    I think we sometimes have a tendency to minimize our own contributions and efforts because we are too close to them to fully recognize them for what they are. I have a feeling that a lot of people we see as brave from the outside don't feel all that brave from the inside either.

    Thanks for sharing such a thought-provoking post.


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