I wonder sometimes what it means to be brave. I wonder what courage really is. I met a friend tonight who led a Marine platoon in Iraq and saw so many of his friends and brothers die, and he was surely brave. I met a woman nearly crippled by a panic attack and when she stopped sobbing and shaking, she wiped her eyes and took a deep breath and started planning for her next painting, and she was brave.
I know a woman who works in a crummy job in a stifling office with uncaring bosses, and every day, she manages a way to smile and light up a few corners of her drained and gray world, and she is brave. I know another who gave up her office job to follow her heart and live her life, for as long as she can, for as long as it lasts, and she is brave. I know an artist who was suffocated for much of her life by angry people who swallowed her up, and then one day she broke free and she is brave. I know a young couple who sold their little house in New Jersey and moved upstate to buy a farm and make cheese, and they are terrified and very brave.
I know a woman who stuck her hand out and got bitten by a dog she was trying to save so she could put a collar on him and save him from a busy highway, and she was brave. My heroes live on the edges, and they are mythical people, dreamers and strivers swimming through oceans of fear to get to the other side. To get to the edge of life and meaning. Sometimes, the fear gushes up in me like a flooded stream, and I gasp in surprise and I list all of the good and wonderful things I have allowed into my life, and I smile and laugh and count the minutes until tomorrow. And then, I am brave.