Reflection on Courage

Age has granted me the clarity needed to understand something that has plagued my understanding since I was very young. Even as a six-year-old I remember watching people hurt, and watching those hurt people turn away and push away those people they longed to be close to.

I understood, as a teenager, that the reason for this was primarily fear of rejection. Never short on hubris or words I have attempted many times, with varying degrees of success, to open their eyes to the fact that they hold the power to end their own pain, and the pain of others, by reaching out to them. By turning toward people and sharing their fears and passions we create connections that heal old wounds and repair burnt bridges. I explain, fruitlessly, that by sharing our fears and passions we open the door to others to do the same, bolstering them by our courage.

What age has finally granted me is the knowledge that reaching out to others when one is afraid requires a profound amount of courage that most people cannot summon. And, that when a person (of any age) can and does summon the courage, one must act to recognize it for the bravery it is, no matter the outcome.

Vulnerability is so courageous when it comes from someone who has been hurt. We have all been hurt.


Gravel slips away below me, down the steep incline. It reminds me of the sound of a rain stick; a gentle rush that belies the danger.


I freeze. Every muscle tenses. I flatten my belly against the shifting stone, spread my limbs out like a starfish, digging my hands and feet into the shifting surface. Carefully, I tilt my head. The distance I have come is too great to warrant retreat. Nearly 200 yards to the ground on this pile and only around 30 feet to solid ground leading to the summit path. I know that turning and sliding with the rocks would be easy, even fun. I’m not done yet, though.

The gravel begins to slip again. I stop moving and flatten myself completely. I lay, hugging the earth with my wide arms. I giggle, take a breath and carefully move one limb at a time, digging each appendage into the stone and using the three anchors to halt any backward slide.

Slowly, I make progress toward solid ground and the path I seek. The first grasp of soil is like the edge of a swimming pool as I place both hands firmly on it and haul myself up. I sit on the edge and stare back down the slope of sliding stones, laughing at my own success.