“The secret to happiness is freedom, and the secret to freedom is courage.” Thucydides
“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” Aristotle
Those ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about courage, didn’t they? Its root comes from the word “heart,” which says it all, doesn’t it? Here’s one definition of courage I read recently in an article called “Some Thoughts on Courage” by the author Barry Farber: “It means the the quality of the spirit that enables one to face danger or difficulty instead of withdrawing from it.”*
We often tend to think of courage as a quality we’re born with – we either have it or we don’t – or we have less while other, more fortunate, people have more. But Barry takes a different view: “There is a deep core-based sense of courage and confidence that is not something we are born with. It comes from having tried and failed and risen to try again. It comes from experience, from having confronted one’s fears.” Or, as Ruth Gordon once said “Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.”
There’s something so encouraging about this view, isn’t it? Courage isn’t the absence of fear – it’s our ability to act in spite of our fears. As Barry puts it, “Courage and fear are inevitably intertwined. We become courageous when we have faith and we take action.“
Courage shines through in extreme situations, like saving someone’s life, but we all show courage in our day to day life as well. When we struggle to overcome obstacles and when we press on, despite a difficulty, we’re showing courage. And the more often we do this, the stronger and more courageous we grow. As writers, we show courage in many ways:
When we decide that we have something worth writing and confront the page.
When we make the decision to create characters and worlds out of wispy ideas.
When we decide after revising and polishing, that our work is finished – it’s complete.
When we make the decision to share our writing and put it out into the world.
When we bounce back after rejections from the publishing world and press on.
All these actions take courage. We are brave and our pens are mighty! Write on!
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