“Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life, with all its sorrows, is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.” Dorothy Thompson
Dorothy Thompson was an intrepid journalist who traveled the world. She spoke out and wrote openly about the dangers that Hitler posed long before many people were willing to listen and believe. She’s someone who knows about courage!
As writers, we need a generous dose of this trait, so let’s unpack her words here and see how they apply to the writing life:
Courage is the “power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice.” We all experience, each in our own way, these show-stoppers. Danger can arrive at our doors at any time — just think Covid. We can also experience misfortune and injustice — circumstances can throw us a curb ball at anytime. And fear? As writers, we know the fear of failure, of self-doubt, of not measuring up, and even the fear of success. Courage is the power to overcome all these, to press on in spite of them.
Courage is the willingness to “affirm inwardly that life, with all its sorrows is good.” This, I believe, is the wellspring from which we write and draw our inspiration. When we face fear and other obstacles, and yet find the strength to “affirm inwardly,” that life is good, we tap into our gratitude. And “gratitude is the door to abundance,” So says a Yogi teabag tag I once saw, and I believe it. Courage gives us the power to believe that despite its sorrows, life is full of wonder and goodness.
Courage is the power to believe that “everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding.” Writing is a way of making meaning out of life and our experiences. The act of writing takes faith and a belief that the world and all its confusion isn’t totally random. I takes courage to believe that life is meaningful even if beyond our ability to understand, and to bring that sense of meaning to the page.
Courage comes from believing that “there is always tomorrow.” By this, I think Dorothy is talking about optimism — the belief that things can and will get better and that we ourselves have the chance to improve. None of know how many tomorrows we have, but we can find the courage to look forward to a new day and fresh hope.
So let’s cultivate courage today! Let’s be captains courageous and steer our scriveners’ ships with gusto and gratitude as we all write on!
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