Language evolves. The meaning of a word can shift over time as we use it differently — think of “cool,” “heavy,” or even “literally.”
Today, give a word an evolutionary push: give a common word a new meaning, explain it to us, and use it in the title of your post.
Courage. Even the very sound of the word makes me often feel weak.
Growing up that word meant something bigger then me, something not for the average normal person. I believed the world when it told me courage was only possessed by those who did big brave things for all to relish in.
Soldiers had courage. Someone giving their life for another had courage. Olympic athletes had courage.
Courage was never a trait I felt I possessed. I have always felt inferior and weak. Sadly I spent much of my teenage years comparing myself to others around me, and seeing their greatness left me feeling unworthy and insignificant.
Courage was meant for the elite, not a weak, small town, southern hillbilly like me .
Then last year I turned 40. Perhaps it was nostalgia, perhaps it is just me growing older, but I became very reflective about my life. I looked over the last 40 years and realized how so much of what I had thought about courage was wrong.
Courage has been displayed through my mother my whole existence. Left alone with two small children, she never crumbled, but sacrificed, and stood strong. Times were rough, but I NEVER saw my mother quit. There were tears, but the towel was never tossed in the ring, and defeat was never accepted.
Courage has been displayed in my sister when she went through a couple years of health issues. Told she would have issues walking because of hip issues, she did not stop once. She kept her humor, and passion for adventure alive, and battled through. She now is an ultra runner accomplishing great challenges and setting new ones ahead of her all the time.
And somehow, I now realize, courage has found me. For years I have told myself that I was unable to do big things. I had convinced myself that I did not have the talent, the drive, or the worth to do things I really wanted to do. However, looking at my mother and sister I realized courage is not something we acquire. It is something we are born with. Just as the cowardly lion realized in the Wizard of OZ, courage is something that is in us the whole all along. It is up to us to grasp hold of it make it useful.
Courage means so much more now. Courage is not giving up, when the world tells me to quit. Courage is moving forward, when I would rather just crawl into my bed. Courage is embracing the adventure ahead, even when I don’t know exactly where I am headed. And courage is admitting you are scared, but not surrendering to fear.