The Greatest Kind of Courage

Why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want . . .
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It’s the hardest thing in the world

It was dark in my room, but not dark enough, I could still see the closet door at the end of my bunk bed, cracked open.  It was much darker in there, as would be necessary for a monster to hide.  I’m not sure why, but the longer I stared into that darkness, the more I KNEW something was in there staring back at me.  My skin crawled, the hair on the back of my neck stood at attention and tears started clouding my eyes.  I was alone in the room with my parents in their own room down the hall and a big sister in the room next door.  I gripped the blanket tight in my fists and I attempted to call for help, but the fear had me and only a small voice came out.  I re-enforced my grip and tried again with all I had in me.  This time was worse, no sound at all escaped.

I knew this thing could hear me and was delighting in the terror it was causing.  I could almost see its evil smile in those dark shadows as it felt like it crept a few inches closer to the open door of the closet.

The was no hope for help.  I was on my own.  I set my mind to work.

Hiding would do me no good, all I had were covers on a stupid bed.  I couldn’t stay where I was, this thing was determined to come out and get me.  “I could make a run for it,” I thought.  I could run for the door across the room and possibly get it open before this thing nabbed me, a quick dash down the hall and I would be at my parent’s door.  With my eyes never leaving that closet, I began to prepare for my escape when I noticed something: I was frozen, paralyzed, stuck!

Just as I could not make my voice work , my legs were no exception.  I learned to cuss at an early age and the utility of those words were not lost on me then as I profaned everything I was supposed to be able to count on for protection as a child.

This was a clever monster, and with every failure of mine to escape, call for help, or even breath quietly this thing was encouraged, and so it began to move toward me through the depths of that closet.   I was out of time.  The decision I made next would color every aspect of my life from then to now and likely forever.  I would attack.

I knew I didn’t have the strength, size, or tool required to save myself, I knew what was going to happen, my fate was clear to me.  In spite, and I mean that in spite, I summoned all the rage I had in me, from my toes to the tips of my hair, I called on all of it.  I used my hate for the helpless feeling, my anger toward parents who should have been their for me, for sisters who wouldn’t care that I was gone, and disgust at God for filling the world with monsters and I pulled myself up on my knees, teeth gritting, eyes straining with tears, throat raw, lungs burning.   I gripped the bed with hands that formed claws and I went from kneeling into a cat like crouch and I launched myself off the bed, over the rail, and into the closet with a scream.  “Ahhhhhhh!!!!” I landed in a sea of shoes and He-Man toys, ripping at anything I could feel with the vengeance of a trapped animal.  I would have bitten things if there were anything there, and that’s when i stopped.  I held still in that closet.  That closet that once I was inside, wasn’t so dark.  I could see their was nothing in their, nothing dangerous, nothing sinister.

I must have experienced the saying “A feeling washed over me” for the first time in my life, and it felt that way as relief swept me up and I cried again, this time from feelings of foolishness and excitement that I wasn’t going to die.

I am still terrified of things, many years later and though it isn’t monsters per say, it feels the same.  I have come to believe that what was in that closet was the demon we all create out of shoes, and toys, or asking for a raise, or telling someone the truth.  The fear of living the way we truly wish to live and do so in public view.  Of quitting our jobs, of divorcing out of an unhappy marriage, or allowing our loved ones to be disappointed in us.  And the answer for me, in my life has been confrontation.  To defy the world and all it’s supposed to be and do for us and leap into that darkness head first, thrashing.  I can only observe your life, I can never understand all you go though, have been through, or face.  In my observation I have concluded that we as human beings have much to gain from becoming more confrontational, being less nice, relying on others less, and leaping into whatever darkness we fear.  In that darkness is answers you can get no other way, and exist in no other place.  So I share with you a quote and after a short point of view:

Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage.

 First, an honest and non judgmental look at what you truly want at this point in your life.  Try and fight the urge to define what you want by asking yourself “what makes me happy”.  It’s a dead end question that has no answer.  Like so many things that idea of being happy has been polluted, corrupted, with to many attachments of what is right, and what is wrong.  It carries with it the idea that the answer must be long term and anything that doesn’t last is not worthy to be the answer.  Instead try using the great Joseph Cambell’s alternative, which is “find your bliss”.   Bliss can be fleeting, and is deeply personal.  It has no attachments of moral right and wrong, only inner fascination and wonder, a sort of youthful joy.  Its forgiving, and achievable.  I fly small airplanes and one source of bliss for me is the simple feeling of looking at the world from a place they cannot see me, and do not notice me.  There is no right and wrong with bliss.  So identify and list those things.

Second, is to summon your courage and change your activities, your situation, your whatever you have to, in order to have your bliss, to do what you want most, to be who you are.

Lastly, you commit to following who you found in the darkness and give yourself permission, to be outcast, dismissed, misunderstood, rejected, or/and embraced, loved, appreciated, admired, and important to others as they face the darkness of their own lives, not because of something you did, but because of who you really are.   The good and the bad, come what may.

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