Bloganuary Post January 2, 2023

How are you brave?

My first reaction to today’s prompt? I’m not brave. Not a bit.

But the more I considered it, am I really such a big chicken or simply risk averse?

Thirty years ago while on a hike, I was absolutely frozen when faced with crossing a stream by walking across a wide, sturdy log. I couldn’t make myself step out onto it. I opted to remove my boots and wade across the rushing creek instead.

I felt similarly stuck walking through a cave with a shiny, wet floor. My eyes told my brain, which told my legs, this is slippery. Stop!

But at seventy-two years of age, falling and breaking a hip is a serious concern. Perhaps my self-preservation instinct kicked in a bit early, but still…

I am not brave physically. Unless it’s a Disney thrill ride that only seems dangerous.

My career path was pretty low-risk as well. I taught in a public school. While the salary wasn’t great, the benefits—including a very good public retirement plan—meant that as long as I made good choices, I wouldn’t run out of money. A very safe plan.

So I am not brave financially either.

However, there are a few ways in which I am a little brave.

Over forty years ago, my husband and I moved away from our hometowns, families, and friends. With a baby. We made the brave choice to live in a place with clear blue skies and a cost of living we could actually afford on our modest incomes.

And put me in a room full of strangers—or waiting in a line at an airport—and I’ll make some connection and maybe a new friend. I love finding commonalities in random places with random people. It reminds me that if we talk long enough with someone new, we will find we have more in common than meets the eye. Is that brave or just extra-friendly?

I also contributed opinion pieces to our local newspaper for fifteen years. I was part of a cadre of women known to be “tree-hugging, granola-eating, vegetarian feminists.” Those hundred or so columns were both personal and political and focused on children, education, social justice, and family life. I learned to shape my arguments and my positions to be palatable and even at times, amusing. I discovered that I could say things in writing that I might not be able to say face to face. Does that count as brave?

And I bravely (or foolishly) published a book in 2020. So there’s that.

So, there are times when I can be brave and step out of my comfort zone. Just as long as there’s no risk of financial ruin or hip fracture.

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