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On Courage...
by Diane R. Light

Courage is Our Natural Inheritance. We are All Entitled to Courage.

We each need access to our Courage — at times of great trial especially, but also in our everyday lives. Courage, that cousin to confidence, can carry us through the very thin air of great and small leaps of faith. Life without risk would hardly resemble life — that vibrant force that always includes change, newness, adventure. Life without risk would be dull, sad and empty indeed. Life without Courage would be colorless and grim. And yet, many of us have difficulty, it seems, finding our Courage. We find instead that out of our dis-Couragement we have created riskless and dull patterns of existence. Where does that sad and restricting force, dis-Couragement, come from?

For many of us, I believe, it can have its roots in childhood — a childhood that may have lacked a wonderful and supportive enCouraging environment. When parents or other caregivers are caught up in their own patterns of dis-Couragement, in their own web of unmet needs, their own fears and projected failures, they are sometimes too afraid or too unavailable to en-Courage their small charges. Instead, it becomes important to create in the child a rigid compliance to, in some cases a great too many rules. These sometimes stated and sometimes never stated rules Rule the family life, Rule the growing child, and Rule the adult to come. They make up the long lists of "shoulds" that many of us find hanging in our mental closets. The "shoulds" that rule us can be robbers of our vital creative energies, of our Courage to risk, of our Courage to be spontaneous and free.

Courage is our inheritance. It cannot really be stolen from us, but it can be buried. We can lose access to it. If mine seems lacking, if I seem unable to summon up my Courage when I need it, I may want to examine the "shoulds" that Rule my mind. As they present themselves boldly and with authority, I may want to question. I may want to challenge their right to Rule. I may want to follow them back to their roots to see if they (the "shoulds") are valid, alive, necessary friends to aid me on my journey, or to discover if they are empty, like some old dark vision of a long dead soldier of yesterday's war. Such empty shells perhaps "should" be discarded, released, and buried with a praise for past achievements and heroisms. Those faded soldiers may have helped me survive a battle that ended long ago in a far away land. They may be no longer useful and no longer needed and, in fact, harmful to me today.

Courage is our natural inheritance. If mine seems lacking, I may want to fill my mental closets with new, fresh words of en-Couragement, affirmations that reflect a brighter, more positive view of a safer universe and my place in it. And as I release my Courage from deep within, as I find those words of en-Couragement and internalize them, as courage surges forth, its cousin, confidence, building with it, I may find that not only am I facing trials, decisions and difficulties with Courage, I may find myself embarking on true adventures and questing after joy!

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