The other day, a friend was crying over her relationship. She’s been in a similar state for over a year now. I brought up the possibility of breaking up.
“I can’t. I just can’t do it. I’m not as brave as you are.”
I nearly sputtered my tea all over the already tear-stained table.
Me? Brave? What the …
Like most human beings, brave is not a word I associate with myself. I am scared of heights, for god sakes and during my chemistry lab exams, my lab partner had to light my bunsen burner as I was scared of flames.
We commonly attribute myth-like proportions to qualities like courage, faith and resilience. We think only a few SuperHumans are generously bestowed these gifts by God. Those that are favoured. The rest of us, languish at the bottom.
And we spend our lives worrying that we are not courageous enough. That we are not equipped to deal with any tragedy that falls upon us. We shy away from painful but necessary decisions because we think we won’t be able to go through with it.
It will develop …
In Asif Kapadia’s brilliant documentary, Amy (above), legendary crooner Tony Bennet wishes he told Amy …
“Life teaches you how to live it …”
Know how I finally got over my fear of flames?
I had just moved to London. I was too poor to dine out all the time and I got sick of eating grilled chicken. So I had to get over my fear of lighting the stove.
The mum with cancer and undergoing chemo, forces herself out of the bed everyday to get her kids ready for school, not because of courage but because she has to.
The girl going through a bad break-up just wants to sit in bed and hide under the covers all day. But she can’t. It’s not about resilience. Its because she has rent to pay, she needs to go to work. She has friends and family who love her and who she loves, so she pulls herself out of bed, washes up and shows up.
We are not born courageous. We are not born resilient.
These are qualities we develop.
Not because we are heroes but because we are mere humans, with very human lives.
And life is unpredictable. It can be overwhelmingly compassionate but it can turn in an instant, cold-heartedly stripping you of all you hold dear.
But life does not require a prep course. It IS the curriculum.
One day, holding on to your present life will seem worse than bartering it for an uncertain future. One day, you will be so sick of your tears, you will be ready to call it quits on whatever that’s making you unhappy. One day, the call of something will pull you enough that you will consider following it, disregarding your much cherished stability. One day, you will dig deeper than you thought possible because you simply won’t be able to bear the worry on the faces of people you love.
And you won’t need courage, faith or resilience to do any of this.
Like all things in life, these will ensue …
once you decide on your path.