“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
I have a well developed sense of self-preservation. By now. I wasn’t always like that cause of one-sided type of courage: the courage of naive unawareness. I did my share of climbing the trees, playing at railroad tracks and all other sorts of urbanatlon when I was a child. (I grew up in a country where the hype about kids safety was not yet known). I also tend to get into all sorts of adventures regardless the possibility of a traumatic outcome. Just out of the reckless nature of unguarded curiosity unchained by generally accepted social guidelines. Or probably out of the passion for finding trouble. (Who knew I would make a profession out of it: software testing.)
But that’s not the type of courage I would like to talk about now. I tend to believe that
- Courage is not a naive unawareness
- Courage is not a brave-heart walk of self-righteous and self-confident genius with no fear or doubt.
- Courage is also not something directly caused by unavoidable obligations. Social or practical duties might cause a person to act bold, but it woun’t necessarily be an example of courage, as far as I am concerned.
Courage is a choice. It’s an expression of freedom of will.
I woke up at pitch dark. At the time when some people go to sleep on Sunday nights.
I did not know that I woudn’t be alone at the Ironman Chattanooga course when I got into the car. I thought “I am so getting myself into trouble doing this stuff on my own”. 2 loops, 104 miles on a bike, 6 hours – anything can happen. I saw the group of riders getting ready for a group ride, but started up earlier then they did. I knew I am not a good group rider and I woudn’t be able to keep up with them.
So I set on my head and tail lights on the bike and drove on into the misty Chattanooga Valley
Now, may Mark Twain and my readers forgive me for the expressive language, but here’s the definition which got stuck in my mind for the first couple of hours on the road alone:
- being sh… scared,
- freaking the f… out,
- but still getting yourself together
- and moving your a…
Right, what Mark Twain said.
I wasn’t courageous! I was scared! But something inside was clicking – like those butterflies, telling me that I can do this.
And then the magic happened.
When trust yourself, or your guardian angels, and keep moving forward… You discover that – you are not alone. That it wasn’t so bad after all. That it’s actually pretty cool! That there are bunch of people right there, with you, at the same area, doing the same stuff. Probably as scared as you are. And still doing it. That’s the thing I love about triathlons: “we are all in this together” feeling. We compete but we en-COURAGE each other. The best encouragement I’ve got were from my friends fighting their own daemons. Not from the people who are all right and got it all figured out.
Courage – is what we, mere mortals, share. We pass it on. We recognize it when we look in the eye of those who passed their challenges. Those who are still struggling with their first steps or did the distance. The courage to start something you fear to start but you still do. Why?
Courage is like belief: if you start trying to explain it, it looses the point.
What one of my favourite T-shirts says
+ some more fun stuff:
that naive anawareness…
What I usually do 🙂
P.S. With many thanks to my friends for the encouragement on my road to the IM. You know who you are. Thank you.
I do hope to manage to share the same encouragement for your endeavors sometimes 🙂