I recently read one of those beautiful, rare sentences that makes you stop short. It was from Anais Nin.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
That’s it. Short, simple, straight-forward. Yet so true.
Remember when you were young, really young, and how many things you were curious about? Life seemed charged with a grandeur. You were excited about so many things, taken aback, stunned, thrilled. Remember how there were so many lifetimes stretched before you, like paintings or good stories waiting to be written, about how you could maybe be a doctor or an actress or a basketball star? It felt like nothing could hold you back, like you were free, like the whole world was at your fingertips.
In a word, children have courage.
But then life began moving in. Fears crept in the shadows. Doubts began to hang over your head like a dark, ominous thundercloud. And then life happened. Bullying. Loneliness. Rejections. Divorce. Death of loved ones. And we slowly lost courage.
We lost that ruddy gusto of youth. We cowered in the face of fear.
I wanted to be a famous actress. I performed throughout my community. Singing, dancing, performing, anything I could do to get the accolades that I wasn’t receiving at home. I felt safe when I was performing. I felt free. My family seemed happy when I was performing and it was my saving grace. Later on in life, I went into performing professionally at age 35 years old living in NYC.
I didn’t want to look back and have any regrets.
All of the things I was afraid to do when I was very young, I began doing as I grew older. My fears were always present but I didn’t want them to allow me to not try something new, at least try. I wanted to be an airline stewardess, and I applied to all of the airlines and followed up with phone calls to folks I had written to. I ended up being offered a job as a stewardess on American Airlines and as a hostess for the then Braniff Airlines.
Throughout the years I’ve tried many things, but the fear was omnipresent.
It didn’t allow me to go beyond testing the waters and being the best I could be, until later on in life I found out about a healing called Somatic Experiencing created by Dr. Peter Levine. It’s the type of healing that works with any kind of trauma that’s been inflicted on a person, and that seemed to do the trick.
So, I ask—do we divorce ourselves from courage and try to become invisible? Or do we try to grab life by the balls and do whatever it takes to get back on the high road? It’s never an overnight experience. It takes a great deal of exertion, persistence and courage. It’s taken me years, and I am still overcoming other fears.
It’s endless but I now have the confidence to not stop at a certain point.
Life can be scary. Everyone knows it. Really scary especially if unexpected illness happens. But who wants to sacrifice their humanity and live a small, invisible life?
I tried it off an on for years, and it did not work. It led nowhere fast.
Courage—that low, rooted, and deep thing. That beautiful, strong, resilient thing.
It’s never too late to finally face our fears, to live boldly, to find the valour in our own small, bleating hearts. True grit.
Even we who have lost so much of our youthfulness can find it.
Sherri Rosen is now living in Harlem, New York. She has had her own publicity business for 12 years, giving a powerful voice to people who are doing good things in the world. Check out Sherri’s blog.
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Assistant Ed: Linda Jockers/Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: via Pinterest