In a Blog Carnival
to be published today in honor of her birthday, Laura
asks the question "What's the bravest thing you've ever done?"
Although I didn't plan to post a response, her question intrigued me. I decided to sit with it awhile.
Spanish friends routinely call me valiente
. When I answer the "how'd you wind up in Spain?" question, their response is inevitably the same: "¡Qué valiente!" More than once, I've heard Nomadita
explain my seeming inexplicable actions to puzzled Spaniards in 5 little words: "Es que es muy valiente".
I get emails in the wandering woman account calling me courageous.
Courageous? Really? I don't feel especially courageous. One of the things I ran across while thinking about Laura's question was the difference between English "courage" and Spanish "coraje", or "valor". The English definition, in a classic bow to the stiff upper lip I was born to, includes the notion of endurance - bravely enduring a difficult or uncomfortable challenge. By that definition, it would have taken a lot more courage to stay where I was 5 years ago. I wanted to stop enduring: quit my job, move to Spain, work for myself, play, create. I wanted to feel at home in my life. One day I just knew there could be no more enduring.
So if the bravest thing I've ever done wasn't quitting a secure job? Or selling the only house I've ever owned, and God forbid, that loaded (pun intended) American success symbol, the new blue Volvo?
Was it asking who I was without the CV? Letting myself be scared every single day? Learning to sit beside the fear and enjoy it, even smack it on the shoulder every once in a while, just for fun? Was it allowing myself not
to know more than a few things? Looking hard at what was left of "me" after I'd shed the career, the native speaker communication skills and the perfectly developed 5 year plan?
something that scares me to death, and I face it every morning.
This morning, knees shaking, I realized I had answered Laura's question almost a year ago, in a post titled The Blank Page
The bravest thing I've ever done is face the blank page. The blank page I've made of my life - no template, no contract, no assumptions, no concrete plan - and the blank notebook page that new life has led me to make a date with, daily.
The bravest thing I've ever done is to trust myself with a blank slate, with clean white pieces of paper, empty text boxes and freshly prepped balls of clay
. The bravest thing I've ever done is make a new decision, every morning, to look at my day, my notebook and my life without considering the outcome. Without a clue as to what I am about to discover. Hmmmm....who might be back there, behind that pen, and what might she be capable of?
This hasn't been an easy year. Reading my old post today, I was struck by its optimism. I haven't heard myself sound that confident in a long time. I find it easy - soothing, in fact - to fall back into well worn templates and old assumptions. To miss my daily writing date. To let the work that's supposedly here only to finance my life become its sole proprietor.
The bravest thing I did today was take Laura's prompt and pick up a pen and paper. The bravest thing I ever do is throw out the plan book and the outline. And trust myself.
I hope you'll surf over and read my post
from February. I'm happy with it. And I'm glad I reread it today!
So what's the bravest thing you've ever done?
Labels: about this blog, me musing, the essential wandering woman