“Love them, Captain, love them all! They just want to be loved!”
-Maria Von Trapp from The Sound of Music
If you haven’t seen this iconic movie musical, I highly recommend it. There’s a pivotal scene in which Maria, the governess of the Captain’s seven children, passionately and bravely speaks her truth about how much his children ache to be loved by him. Maria confronts the Captain. She sees where he’s been protecting his heart and running his household like a naval officer rather than a dad who sees and appreciates his unique, multi-dimensional children. In his fear and grief, the Captain had been interacting with his children as subjects to be controlled, drilled, and commanded.
In the aftermath of Maria’s courageous stand for the children to be seen, valued, and loved by their father, the Captain does soften towards his children. She becomes a guide who awakens the Captain to his more present, affectionate, and loving self. She facilitates a transformation in his way of being, relating, communicating.
Courage infused with values lives at the very core of what drives a meaningful life. Can you think of any important advancements towards an aspiration, micromovements towards fulfillment, or really being ‘woke” in your life that didn’t take courage?
I have never regretted anything I’ve bravely done in my life. I’ve learned that a life lived in terror, fear, or chronic high anxiety is not a life worth living. While it would be wonderful for my two adult children to be happy, I deeply want them to live with courage in their hearts that overflows into their words, deeds, and that grows strong inside their souls.
Courage lives in the heart that then fuels the mind. The word courage comes from the same place as corazon, which is the Spanish word for heart. Courage comes from a heartset that informs the mind. The heart beats and feels, the body moves, and the mind learns. Listen to the heart first, then the body, the soul, and finally, maybe, the mind. The mind can be the last place for the truth to show up. The mind can be a trickster and blather about all kinds of irrational, rational, ridiculous, and scary things until you tame it towards silence.
It takes courage to speak the truth to a domineering person, to do the right thing on behalf of those who may feel powerless to do so, to see your enemy as a human being. It takes courage to love, to apologize, and even more bravery to actually change the behavior that’s causing you and others so much suffering. To grow in forgiveness, to keep your heart open to love, to love again after your heart broke wide open, to look in the mirror and see beauty and humility all requires courage.
To share mistakes and failures vulnerably with shame and remorse with those who may not hear you, to suppress a giggle when everyone around you is crying, to weep when many around you are chuckling, to remain silent when all you want to do is yell, “F#$% You!!” requires discipline, discernment, and courage. To stand alone, to walk away, to run towards your deepest dreams and desires for a life filled with grace, love, and freedom often demands the oxygen of your brave.
Bravery fuels showing up for life when you might want to stay under the covers. To choose sobriety from alcohol, drugs, toxic relationships, chocolate chip cookies or other addictions, to move outside your comfort zone, to confront your own inner critic with the truth of who you really are and why you are here requires courage. Your life force can expand beyond that small, walnut shaped amygdala deep inside your brain, where fight, flight, freeze zip and zap. Courage is an essential ingredient for growth, development, differentiation, and self-actualization.
Living inside this daring can be messy and uncomfortable because you probably will trip and fall in the mud as you walk away from what no longer supports you, inspires you, feeds you. After taking a moment to laugh at yourself, keep walking. Brave actions create intended and unintended results for which you are fortunate to be responsible. You will feel very much alive and live with few regrets.
As you go about your days on this swirling planet, may most people who know you, who experience your gifts, love, affection, kindness, compassion, humor, strength, and dignity, know that it all came from a fierce, unrelenting willingness to live brave. Like Maria, your daring stand for the truth of what you experience, see, feel, love, and the actions you take can alter the trajectory of your life, your vision, and those of the people whose lives you impact every single day. Allow a heartset of bravery to open the door to a more joyful experience of loving your most beautiful and precious life.