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What Would Life Be if We Had No Courage?

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"

—Vincent Van Gogh

Beautiful mountain scenery with hidden lake and forest. Unsplash
(Image from Unsplash)

I wonder how many of us could pose this question to ourselves and come up with an honest answer. What would my life be if I had no courage to attempt anything? What would life be if we allowed ourselves to remain comfortable with the way things are? If Van Gogh had never picked up a paintbrush, what would his life have been instead? What if Joyce or Hemmingway never put pen to paper? What if, what if , what if?

I've always thought "What if?" to be kind of a scary question. Scary because if I'm asking that question, I'm doing too much wondering and not enough doing. We all get comfortable, but when we're too comfortable, we get lazy. By lazy I mean we stop trying. We become so content with our life as it is, that we remain in our comfort zone because we feel cozy and secure. The big bad world has less of a chance to get us in our little bubble of warm and fuzziness. But that little bubble isn't necessarily the best place to be. For some, it may be all they want--believe me, there's nothing wrong with that.

But for others, they need something more.

They need to feel their wings open and to know what is to fly in the clouds. They need to feel the rush of water as thye stand beneath a waterfall, or the air whipping around them as they stand atop a mountain. They need to know what it's like to see their painting on the walls of a gallery, to hear their own music on the radio, and to hold the book they never imagined would be in print.

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"

If it's not laziness that stops some of us, what is it? That dreaded four letter word that we don't want to admit we possess, but it creeps up at the most inopportune moments. We're ready to jump out of that plane, but we pull back at the last minute. We've practiced the song for weeks in rehearsals, but we can't step out on that stage. We've spent years writing and polishing that manuscript, but we can't seem to hit the send button and submit it.


I've experienced fear plenty of times. I used to be afraid of heights, so in high school I started cliff jumping, and in my twenties I went skydiving. Am I still afraid of heights? You bet I am, but I don't regret trying to overcome the fear. I dislike (I could almost say "hate") public speaking. In high school I joined the speech team. Before a competition I couldn't eat and I'd freeze up, well, except my heart which felt like it was thumping way too fast for a human heart. The second year I medaled at state.

I tried out for a musical—just for a speaking or chorus part, mind you—and ended up with a solo song—a rather advanced number that I was certain I couldn't do. I rehearsed, but that was one time when I allowed fear to win. I backed out for the sake of the production because I knew down to my soul that I couldn't have gone through with it. That when it mattered most, I wouldn't have been able to step out on that stage. I'm glad I tried out, and thrilled that I landed such an amazing role, but I'll never know if I really could have done it.

Sometimes we have to push our own boundaries to discover our greatest talents and strengths. It's okay to not be great at everything.

When it came time to share my writing with the world, I didn't give fear a chance to set in. It was one of those situations where you leap and see where you land. With each new book release, there's a little twinge of excitement, but no fear.

I've recently been considering my professional options--outside of writing--and I've gone back and forth, back and forth, on the direction I'd like to take. Do I want to remain in my current profession because it's steady, there's always a need, and I've spent more than a decade acquiring and fine-tuning those executive skills, even though I only do it because it was an easy path?

Or, do I want to take a risk and venture into something I've always wanted to do, but came up with one excuse after another (finances, time, family, location, blah, blah, etc) not to try something new? I tell myself that there's no reason to mess with a good thing, but I'm too comfortable. The challenge is gone. The excitement, the growth, the potential to become a better version of me--all stagnant because I've become too comfortable.

So, I asked myself, "What would my life be if I had no courage to attempt anything?" I don't want to answer that question. I'd rather find the courage within, even if I have to dig deep for it, and I want to attempt many things. Fear? I'm certain we'll meet again soon because I'm about to push myself out of that warm and safe bubble, but I'm looking forward to the ride.

Is there something you want out of life but you haven't found the courage to go after it? If so, is it fear or being too comfortable that's stopping you?


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