The scared person's guide to bravery

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try." -- Beverly Sills

London, England. Photo by jose.jhg

What, exactly, is bravery? (See also courage and vulnerability.)

It's often painted in militaristic terms -- rooftop proclamations, flags planted in triumph, bellowing brute force. But braver still is a handshake -- an overture to peace.

To be brave is to defy self-preservation. It dares the uncomfortable and invites the pain. Bravery accepts what must be done and does it when no one else is looking (or bothering).

Bravery is the pit in your stomach before the plunge and the release you feel after the thud. Bravery is appreciating the stakes. It finds glory in the attempt, not in the victory.

And who's to say what victory is, anyway? Maybe in this moment, being brave is victory enough. If so, acknowledge it. Bravery doesn't laugh or gloat, but it does permit itself a sigh and a pat on a back occasionally.

Bravery is getting going. Bravery is stopping. Bravery is trying at all. It's knowing you did what you thought was right, even when "right" is murky.

"Brave" is perceived. Bravery is demonstrated.

Bravery starts hard conversations.

It signs its letters.

It makes eye contact.

It requires much and often returns less. But still, I ask to be brave, because bravery is the only way any real work gets done.

Prayer #237: Bull's-Eye

Bravery is not shooting the arrow. Bravery is being the target.

Put me square in the bull's-eye from this moment on, red and blaring, to beckon the challenge.