“You never wish on a shooting star, you wish on the ones that have courage to shine where they are. No matter how dark the night, no matter how hard the fight” ~ Andrea Gibson
In yoga today, my dear teacher greeted us with the news of the soon-to-be passing of a member of our community.
She sat poised, with tears readying themselves to fall to her lap, unapologetic for the emotions pouring forth. And in doing so, she was the catalyst for each of us to do the same. We held a space for one another to be unashamed and unapologetic, deeply honoring of the movement of emotions within each other.
Tears could be heard sporadically around the room, sniffling, sighing, hearts breaking, hearts mending, grief honored, life celebrated. And I think what floored me more than the grief, more than the contemplation of death and loss and life, was the profound courage of every person in that room to show up. To be in whatever place they were in, to allow for whatever needed space.
And to courageously hold space for others, to collectively create a web, a net, in which we could all rest. This was a room full of people, some friends, some acquaintances, some strangers—holding space for one another and allowing themselves to be held in such a space.
This past weekend I had the great honor of marrying two of my very dear friends. At some point in the ceremony I talked about that day being a courageous day. As I reflect deeper, I see the courage they both hold not just on that day, but in agreeing to the work of a life spent shared with another—the blessings and bounty and challenges inherent in such an agreement.
I see courage in my sister who daily confronts and negotiates the shame and frustration she feels with her body in the midst of fertility challenges. And yet she continues on, day after day, courageously doing what needs to be done, teaching classrooms full of other people’s children. She faces every day with her body not doing the one biological function it is uniquely designed to do, and she courageously does not give up on it. Does not give up on herself.
It’s not just courage in the face of life-changing events, though. It’s courage in the every day.
There is courage in those friends who work towards a dream, courage in those who are willing to question all they’ve been taught, courage in those who advocate for themselves, courage in those who tend to the wounds without knowing why or how. There is courage in those who wake up every day committed to bringing whatever authentic version of themselves feels most present.
Courage is in those who are walking a path that no one around them has walked before—that no one around them understands. Courage is in those willing to express—to weep or to cackle or to howl—because their cells are calling out for them to do so and to not would be a stifling too wounding to bare.
Courage is in my lover who allows me to see parts of her being, allows me to witness places in her that are vulnerable and sacred. Who follows the river of her feelings, allowing for rocks and waterfalls and pools and invites me to dangle my feet in, becoming a part of her flow.
I am humbled by the courageousness I see around me every day. Sometimes it’s bold and sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes it is in opening your heart to death, or welcoming in a new life, and sometimes it is in getting out of bed every morning. Sometimes it is in singing your heart and sometimes it is in allowing the tears to very softly and gently land upon your cheeks without trying to brush them away.
Whatever it is, I bow to you. I bow to your courage. And I bow to your heart. And I offer my gratitude for the inspiration that you bring.
Alicia Banister swims in the sea of bodyworkers in Boulder, CO as a CranioSacral and Massage Therapist. She is not very good at sleeping late or cutting in a straight line, but she is really good at regularly feeding her dog, being in the woods, cooking, laughing loudly and often and making mistakes. She regularly marvels at the human body and the breadth of its inherent healing capacity, as well as the fantastic beings that inhabit those bodies. She makes it a practice to let life humble her as often as possible. And to remember to have a sense of humor about it all.
Editor: Ryan Pinkard