Archive for September, 2007

Bravery

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Sunday Nap, At home in San Francisco, Fall 2007.
During the fall, just around four clock in the afternoon, there is an irresistible warm light that stretches through the hardwood floors of my living room. That’s when I turn into a kitty cat. I put on some jazz, I grab a blanket, a big soft pillow, a cup of tea and a couple of poetry and art books. Then I just lay right there on the floor and soak in the tenderness of that moment. Hmmm.
Yesterday, I was inspired by my friend Maddie to make some delicious homemade chai and nurture memories of my own bravery. I pondered and pondered, taking in the sunshine, the sweetness, the smells of cinnamon and cardamom and the recollection of my brave stories.
I remembered times when I was completely alone in faraway remote places, without speaking the language or knowing where I’d go next. I felt really brave and I also felt a sense of wholeness when I stood on my own and made myself company in the middle of nowhere.
So, after a few more sips of chai, I came to the conclusion that the bravest thing we can do is to love ourselves just as we are and where we are. We don’t actually need to travel far to take that stand. To accept all the little (and not so little imperfections) that we have. To be interested in our own journey and all the oddities, challenges and mistakes that make us so unique. To trust that we do enough and that we are enough.
I also remembered a passage I recently read in one of Pema Chodron’s books that spoke of true bravery. The story was about a man who was enjoying himself on a boat ride at dusk. Then, he saw another boat coming down the river towards him and he thought how nice it was, that someone else was enjoying summer at the river just like him. But then, he realized that the other boat was speeding up and coming faster and faster towards him. So he began to yell and ask the other boat to stop or turn… But the boat continued to come faster and unmistakably towards him. He then stood up on his boat, screamed and jumped up and down and… Well… The other boat still kept coming towards him… And in fact, smashed right into him. When that finally happened, he realized that it was an empty boat.
Pema talked about the fact that this zen story shows our whole life situation. There are a lot of empty boats coming towards us all the time. We’re always reacting, screaming, jumping, trying to stop all those crazy boats. But they are empty and there is nothing we can do to really prevent them from crashing…
What if we could just stop our minds for a second, and rest in that little tiny gap between us and the boat? What if we could meet everything that comes our way with that easiness and openness in our minds? Now that is a really brave concept, right?
So I laid there on the sunshine quietly with all these thoughts… Trying to gently find that space between myself and uncertainty… In that instant, with my head resting on the pillow, it didn’t matter if I was going to succeed, regret or get through it. I was open and brave.
What does bravery mean to you?
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And via Andrea, a moving lesson on bravery here.