“I really like that tattoo of yours. Does it mean something?”
I paused for a moment, mainly because I am not accustomed to anyone asking about it. I was in the grocery store, checking out, and the cashier was asking me about it. As many persons as I meet that comment on the beauty of it, rarely ask the meaning. The rest of the pause was the deciding moment; what do I say?
So, the subject of courage.
Do I just say, “It’s personal”? Do I tell her the multitude of meanings it has for me? I jump right in, because truth is truth, right? I tell her that it is about love, and peace, and being proud to be a woman, and being proud to be gay. And, she doesn’t flinch. Not one bit. She continues to comment on how great it is that I was able to design it.
In that moment, and in so many moments of my everyday life, I teach myself about what courage is, and what it is not, at least from my life perspective. Courage is not about life or death situations much of the time for me. It is not about fighting a terrible foe and risking my life and limb. Courage for me is not about jumping out of airplanes or racing cars.
Courage is in the seemingly simpler tasks of life, that are often not so simple. Like talking about who you are with pride and self love. To fully love and appreciate oneself takes great courage. To go to work and make a living, even if the work you do is just making a living and not a career, takes courage. It takes courage to tell someone goodbye, and to tell someone hello. It takes courage to speak up, and to stay silent. It takes courage to tell your child that you love them, or to tell them that you expect more of them. It takes great courage to believe in your own inner voice, the one that resides in your gut, and tells you the real truth about many situations.
We all have such capacity for great courage, yet we rarely acknowledge it in ourselves. Only after this brief encounter with this beautifully friendly cashier, did I recognize to myself what great courage I have to just be who I am. To feel confident and secure and contented in it. To be able to declare it to the world, without boast or remorse, just because it is truth, and truth deserves to be spoken aloud.
Where in that self of yours do you find your courage? Have you looked for it lately? It is lurking, deep within, or more on the surface. But it should be acknowledged, and treasured and revered, for it is what makes us human and alive. And, it is about everything that we do and all that we are, and can take great pride and gratitude in.