Courage is not necessarily about moving mountains


“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

                                                           –  Theodore Roosevelt

For quite some time I have wanted to write about courage because the concept of courage is such a magnificent human attribute. This big topic, almost boundless to discuss, kept pulling at me because in my work I see so many people living courageously through a range of life challenging situations.  It is a recurring privilege to witness such courage.

But also, in this work I see people who believed they had no courage, now begin to gain that supposed lack.  In my experience this is due to the fact, that, in actually learning and practising Stillness Meditation, a certain degree of courage must be summoned.  Since fear and courage are emotional companions, those who persevere with this style of meditation then discover that as their fear recedes, more and more courage is gained.

So, I began to ponder ‘courage’ and seeking inspiration, I was fortunate to discover the words of the remarkable Theodore Roosevelt.  So neat yet so respectful: “do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – a summary so profound that the word itself doesn’t even need to be included.  Just think of how those simple words might apply to our world today as we begin to adjust to the adjustments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

With social restrictions being reviewed here and scant recovery in other parts of the world, the virus hasn’t left us.

We don’t really know what our future holds except that we must learn to begin to live again to the best of our ability, regardless.

As a society we have been fortunate for a very long time to be able to make plans and assume the probability of perfect outcomes.  In some ways we have taken much for granted and we’re now challenged to consider things differently and with caution.  And so there are risks – especially those surrounding matters of health and finance – perhaps the two major reasons for concern.  Risk involves us all and especially those remarkable people at the coalface of healthcare.  Finance also involves us all through a variety of ways and decisions must be made.  Humanity requires courage at this time – and yet the courage to act may be impeded if fear, predictably, should raise its controlling head.

I’m reminded now of the cowardly lion from the Wizard of Oz.  That representation of the King of the Beasts believes he is fearful and that he lacks courage, and that he’s not at all brave.

But, of course, he really is very courageous and only needs to shift his belief.  In fact, that lion has been living authentically and in precisely the way that Roosevelt’s words convey!

So courage really means simply moving forward with good intent to face whatever we need to face.  Courage means believing that whatever we need to attend to, achieve or conquer can be accomplished.  It is reassuring to understand courage as action, just as we are at any time.

And remember, while a certain few will make headlines for extraordinary courageous achievements, millions of ordinary people throughout the world are performing commendable acts of courage every single day.

                                                                                                          © Pauline McKinnon, June 2020