This weekend, I spent some time with one of those friends that I only see a few times a year, but each time, it feels like we’ve never been apart. We both have crazy busy lives. She is an elite athlete, a former Olympian, who has only recently decided that her body and brain can no longer support the rigours of the sport she chose. When I am with her, I think about courage. I think about her courage to step on to the world stage and compete for herself and her country in a sport that can be considered dangerous. But more importantly, I think about her courage to step away from the sport she loves.
People sometimes comment that I am brave when I work with some of the more challenging horses, but I don’t feel that requires much bravery any more. When I started with the horses, I needed to summon my courage to throw a leg over them. Now, I am pretty sure of my level of competence with them, and any risks I take are carefully measured. For me, courage comes not when I am doing the things I have practiced, but instead in the times when I am afraid, but I push through the fear and take action. The fear shows up for me when there is a low level of certainty of the outcome. When I can stand up to it and walk through, I feel courageous.
When I turned 50, I undertook something new that did require courage. Learning to ride a motorcycle “at my age” was a stretch. During the first few days, I had flashbacks to my brother in hospital after coming out of a coma resulting from his motorcycle wreck. I remembered him learning to spit out the toothpaste rather than swallow it. I thought about my responsibilities at the farm and what would happen to the horses if something happened to me. Then I thought about my friends who rode. The stories they told. The way they lived life. And I knew I wanted to be a part of it, so I pushed through the panic and developed my skill. I still need lots of practice, but I’m getting there. And I’m learning to lean on the friends that have the expertise, and they are there to support me while I muddle through. And I’m learning to be comfortable being far, far less than expert at something.
It takes courage for me to show my vulnerabilities – the places where I could improve. I have swallowed a lot of stories about being strong and independent, not being able to depend on others – that needing others was a sign of weakness. Never let them know they have power over you. That kind of stuff. My truth today is that I need connections, but I exercise discernment over who those connections are. There are some connections that are wonderful in the area of career, and others, in the area of relationships. In any case, there is no one person who will be “the” source of my assistance, but instead an abundance of available resources that Spirit provides if I only open my heart and mind to them. The courage comes in taking the chance of showing them my vulnerabilities, and risking looking flawed, and therefore, human.
This morning, Danielle Laporte sent one of her truth bombs. It said, “Curiousity is a muscle. Work it.” I think the same can be said of exercising courage. And gratitude.
Today, I offer thanks for those of you who have seen my vulnerabilities and “had my back” when I was scared and feeling weak. I am exceedingly grateful for the amazing people in my life who show up for me. I commit to doing my best to give the same to you when I am able. And the circle goes ’round…