“What it Means to be Brave.”

“I hope you have the courage to let it be what it will be. Allow it to fall apart if it must. To be brave enough to believe your happiness is possible in a life you had never considered.”

JM Storm

My birthday is in July. I will be 45 this year… which, in a way, could be considered the halfway point of my entire life. This thought has occurred to me more than once, over the past few months, as I have become acutely aware of so many people who have recently passed away. A few have made it as far as 90 years in this life – but, sadly, the majority of them have been much closer to 65 or 70, than they have been to 90.

Therefore, to me, my 45th birthday seemed like one I might like to commemorate in a much bigger way, especially considering everything that has occurred in my life these past several years. So I’d been brainstorming adventures and started to make plans with a friend. Rock climbing and bungee jumping in Oregon. Sounds incredible, right? And I’m sure it would be… if I were not still compensating for the multitude of injuries I sustained in that skydiving accident nearly two years ago. The truth is, some things can’t ever truly be fixed. I know this now, in no uncertain terms. It’s taken some time, but I’m okay with it now. I’m handling my differences better than I ever have, and I’ve come to value life in a way that I just didn’t before. The ability to walk without pain, and the fact that I am now able to run again… I will never again take these simple things for granted. I appreciate my life and my physical capabilities more now than I ever have. If ever I lose this great gift, which the force created by a bungee jump upon the weakened areas of my spine could realistically do, I honestly don’t think I would want to continue living… and that’s a risk I’m no longer willing to take.

So I messaged my friend, informing her of my decision not to follow through with our plans. Her response surprised me.

“I think that’s very brave of you.”

In a recent session with my therapist, I discussed my decision not to jump. “This will likely be the ONE regret I have, looking back, before I die…” I said, “…that I didn’t go and do this before I broke my spine.”

I went on to explain how this is the one thing that scares me even more than skydiving and how, now that I understand the risks to me, with my particular spinal injuries, I will no longer have the opportunity to face it and, therefore, overcome it.

His eyes softened with understanding, as they often do, but in the hours after our conversation, it occurred to me that this decision isn’t even worthy of my regret. In fact, it’s no longer a fear I even consider worth facing… because, to what end would facing this fear supposedly lead? Am I any different now than I would be after I made this jump? Perceptually, perhaps – but realistically, no.

The biggest questions people have before such an activity are: “Will I be able to go through with it? Will I be brave enough to make the jump?”Questions that needn’t ever be asked of me – because the answer is, and always will be, without a doubt, a resounding YES! I have proved this to myself, time and time again throughout my life, with any and all of the “extreme” activities that I have wholeheartedly participated in.

I used to think bravery was figuring out exactly what your fears are, then choosing to face them head on, one by one, overcoming them all, until they’re all gone.

Now, I think it’s better to decide what’s even worthy of being faced – what makes you better for the act of overcoming, and choosing wisely, for yourself, in which direction you believe you should go.

They say that “Hindsight is 20/20”, but there’s so much more to it than just that. The past and the present are in a constant dialogue. To be conscious of this fact and have the courage to act is where the magic is; where we find ourselves powerful beyond measure, able to tip the scales of Life’s great balancing act, level the playing field onto steadier ground so we move more confidently forward, into the future, refusing to allow our history to repeat itself.

There’s still so much I do not know and am striving to understand but, as I continue on in my personal growth journey, I think it’s safe to say that I’m finally beginning to understand what it really means to be brave.


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