Until recently I had only a fuzzy idea of what a blog was. Then I published a book and was encouraged by my promotion consultant to start one, so here I am, writing my very first blog. At first I felt some apprehension as I thought about becoming a blogger. I laughed when I noticed my ego trying to take over this enterprise. I then relaxed and turned it over to my heart, focusing on what was the most important thing I wanted to say to you.
This excerpt from a well-known children’s story illustrates with a profound simplicity what I want to say. It is from the best-selling book called “The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse” by Charlie Mackesy. Sometimes” said the horse. “Sometimes what” asked the boy? “Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.” In my book, Old, I write that just being old takes courage. I would go further than that now and say that just being human takes courage.
Courage and vulnerability go together. It takes courage to live in a human body that is subject to illness, accident and death. It takes courage to form relationships and to start a family when we don’t know how all this will turn out. When we are children, it takes courage to go to school each day, especially if we are being teased or bullied or having trouble keeping up in the classroom. It takes courage to show up for work each day, not knowing what challenges we will face.
There are days when we don’t feel like showing up at all, when we are discouraged, ill, depressed or just plain tired. Yet most of the time we do manage to get up and carry on. “No big deal” we would say. We don’t expect kudos for that and would probably scoff if someone called us magnificent. But think about it. Isn’t there something magnificent about daring to carry on in the face of the unknown when we are feeling so vulnerable and fearful about the outcome?
Have I convinced you? Maybe not. Brave and magnificent are words usually reserved for special people and exceptional deeds. Getting up and carrying on sounds pretty mundane and ordinary. Well, yes it is, but there are times when we feel so overwhelmed that we don’t want to keep going. Our mind tells us that we can’t do it or it is too much for us. These self-doubts drag us down. But there is also something else in us that is brave enough not to listen to this voice of doubt and derision and we manage to get ourselves up and carry on. What happens next? Do we listen to the horse’s wisdom and congratulate ourselves for our bravery and magnificence? More likely we continue our self-minimizing thoughts like “No big deal” or “so what.”
I am going to suggest something radical which may feel uncomfortable at first. What if we became our own cheerleader? What if we recognized and respected our own unique magnificence and cheered ourselves on? It has taken me a lifetime to realize the truth that our magnificence comes from our being truly ourselves. That is our gift to the world. No one else knows how to be us better than we do. Each of us has our own way of being ourselves as we carry on, whether we are going to work, cooking meals, cleaning up or doing the laundry.
Sometimes this being ourselves is harder than it sounds. Sometimes we forget who we are because we have been so used to trying to be what others expect or want us to be. When that happen, the best thing we can do is remind ourselves of who we are and carry on again. If you still don’t feel very brave, I would like to suggest an exercise. Think of the times when you have gone to a really good play or concert and been part of a standing ovation with everyone shouting out “bravo” to the performers. Each time you get up and carry on when you don’t feel like it, imagine that a crowd of angels are shouting out “bravo” to you. Or, if you don’t believe in angels, you can just give yourself a standing ovation. Bravo! Bravo!