Courage: It’s a Bitch, Yo

Half my life I’ve been convinced I lack courage.

But lately, I’ve been thinking I just worry that I lack courage.

It’s seems a fine line to be sure, but it’s an important one.

Lacking courage, of course, means not having the guts, will, or impulse to take on the hard things in life.  And, presumably, the harder the challenge, the lesser the chance you’re goin’ headlong into it…whatever it is.

But the second condition entails something entirely different, and that’s that courage as an inherent or learned characteristic is itself what is questioned, and the truly difficult part is all the time you spend worrying about whether you’ll rise to the challenge, if, presumably, you get off your fat duff and try to even do something.Sometimes I’m not sure which is more difficult, but increasingly, I suspect it’s the latter.

I mean, looking at it for myself, objectively…

Still alive. Have risked physical harm while defending the honor of a lady.  Been through many “sketchy” parts of many cities (even done some ‘bidness” there), and enjoyed it.  Guts to pull up the roots on several occasions.  Played on many a stage, screaming guts out and generally looking the fool.  Swam in several oceans after near drowning incident.  Moved to NYC where if you can make it, according to “The Voice,” Mr. Frank Sinatra, “Ol’ Blue Eyes” himself, you most certainly can make it “anywhere.” Quite sure I’d jump out of an airplane, given the chance. Posted and made available many of my intimate, quirky thoughts to wide swath of friends, one of who might just be you, right now. Moved whole life not once but twice, for love, to Singapore, and the other time, dare I say it, to St. Louis. Still play sports recklessly after two knee surgeries and two spine surgeries. Am positive when the spaceship lands, I’ll jump right on to get the probin’ started.

So I think it’s time to stop dwelling on the “Would I” and focus more on the “If I” or “When I” situations.  It doesn’t matter if I have the guts to be the Mayor of Chicago (my long time proclaimed dream job) if I’m never going to run for the Mayor of Chicago.  Furthermore, and importantly, if I were somehow amazingly in that position, I’d likely have a lot more courage than a) I expected, and b) I had before actually being in that position.  This is because when I’m actually doing things, I seem to handle them ably, coolly, courageously even.  I forget all the worry and just get into whatever ‘zone.’

Now that’s not to say I “can do anything.”  Personally, I can’t stand it when people say that, that you can do whatever you set your mind to, because practically speaking, it’s patently if sadly untrue.  As a general morale booster fine, or as a way to start your kid to thinking about life, sure, but a more plausible maxim might be “You can do anything you want, achieve any dream, that is within your personally maximized skill set and that is comfortable enough within your emotional, intellectual, physiological, and ethical beliefs and boundaries that achieving it won’t make you lose your shit.”  Ready to go conquer the world?  Or at least get off the couch?

I don’t think I have a lack of courage at all, and you probably don’t either (not sayin’ you think you do, just sayin’).  I have performance anxiety.  Going further, it’s performance anxiety that must be low grade because it hasn’t kept me locked up in the basement, worrying about what’s outside (most days).

In sum, if a guy comes at me with an axe, he better be ready, because I’m no wilting violet.  And, to boot, it’s very unlikely a guy’s coming at me with an axe.  Ergo, I’m not going to worry about whether or not I’ll have the guts to give him the old one-two then a quick Karate style “Ki-Yi.”

Bring it.


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