Courage takes practice.
Apparently, I’ve needed a lot of it lately. Practice, that is.
And courage, too.
Sometimes I wonder, “what if I do all this talking about courage, and a BIG MOMENT comes- something crazy, or totally unexpected, and I can’t find my courage, and I flip out and people say, “hey! I thought you were the Courage Doctor??” and then I realize I am hearing myself roar when everyone else hears a tiny meow.
When those moments come, I always follow my mother, Kaleel Jamison’s, advice for any awkward, or tense or worry-filled situation.
I go to the bathroom.
At the risk of over-sharing, let’s be perfectly clear with each other, because we all do it.
I don’t mean I walk into the bathroom, throw my head in my hands and have an existential crisis, I mean that I actually “GO” to the bathroom.
This was one of my mother’s many brilliant interventions in the classic style of Edie Seashore and her other friends and contemporaries, John and Joyce Weir, and Judith Katz. She believed that physical motion, and the symbolic, but very real physiological action, of releasing what we are holding, frees us up to move forward, less encumbered by the real, but unnecessary.
She had theories I’ll share for another time along these lines, like “the more you cry, the less you pee” and other perennial favorites.
Anyway, so I stepped away from my work table to use the bathroom, still considering the question of whether I could keep my cool, activate my courage, when the most unexpected, surprising moments arise.
I sat.. er.. umm… down… and was in the midst of … my… ‘process’ when I looked down and there was a snake coiled up by my foot.
A snake. A SNAKE!!!
A live, real one, staring at me and doing that little tongue-flicking thing.
I did not over-react, or lose my cool. My courage was RIGHT THERE, well practiced and at the ready.
“What the HELL are YOU doing in my bathroom???”
I sat there and stared at it. It stared at me. One of us had to do something.
Somewhere in the back of my mind, it occurred to me that this snake didn’t look full-grown, and that maybe its mommy was (*cringe) in the toilet upon which I was perched.
Okay, so my courage didn’t disappear, rather I like to think it propelled me more quickly off my keester.
We should all be afraid of the snake’s mother swirling angrily around in the toilet upon which we are seated, just saying.
There is a time for courage, and there is a time for “getting off the pot,” so to speak.
What I learned: Courage does take practice, and can be a steadying, consistent companion. And, courage can be that friend who knows enough to shout, “GET UP! NOW! GO!!” We need both at work, and in life.
PS- If you’re wondering what happened with the snake. I stood up, collected myself, washed my hands and gallantly exited the bathroom, closing the snake in, and me out. When people ask me why we have seven children, this is THE example of the advantage it brings. At least one of the seven will be excited about a snake in the house (and if you know our children, you know EXACTLY who it is), and will happily transport it outside. Without my help. Or proximity.
How does YOUR courage show up when you most need it?