I've jumped out of an airplane from 13,000 feet.*
I've camped deep in the woods alone at night.*
I've jumped off cliffs tall enough to kill me if I fell the wrong way.*
I've climbed the pillars of bridges and the sides of buildings so I could sit at the top and swing my legs over the tiny things in the distance below me.*
*While all of the above statements are true and make for great stories and photo-ops and I would like for them to convince people I am brave, each item is simply something I think is fun but requires little to no real bravery.
What some people see as risky, I see as safe. I've thought about the risks, I've assessed the situation, I've calculated my odds--and they're in my favor. Take skydiving, for example. Out of the millions of skydive jumps that take place every year, only 0.0007% end in fatality. I'm more likely to die driving my car.
Everything I do that seems like it's risky, I do because there's an element of knowing--I know the odds, I know my strengths and my limits, I know how far I'm jumping and what I'm jumping into. For me, there's not a ton of true courage required.
Do you know what I think is way more courageous?
Any of my friends who have a kid. To bring someone into the world and not know what they'll be like, what they'll go through, what will happen to them: that's brave.
Or any of my friends who are trying to have a kid. To hope and pray for a child and not know if or when it will happen: that's brave.
Any of my friends who marry someone. To lock arms with this person with no way to predict or control what they might have to face down the road: that's brave.
Any of my friends who start a business or make a huge career move. To put it all on the line, to potentially fail, to have to start over: that's brave.
And anyone who's done any of the above and has been knocked down or punched in the mouth and decides to keep hoping, keep dreaming, keep fighting. That's pretty brave.
So many people in my life are so much braver than they give themselves credit for. It's the thrill-seeking outdoors-y people who get all the glory for being brave. We're not that brave. Or at least I'm not, in my opinion.
There's a special type of courage needed for the big things in life. To hope, to dream, to love--to do any of these means to surrender some control, to step into the unknown, to lay bare some part of yourself you'd rather layer with armor.
Being brave enough to walk foot-over-foot on the top beam of a bridge with a river far below doesn't win me anything real in life. It's just fun. It makes me smile, so I do it.
There are a few questions that have been haunting me, questions I think will probably matter more than wondering if I'm brave enough to climb something I know I can climb. If I care to dream about anything that matters, hope for anything that matters, love anything that matters...I have to work up the courage and find a way to say yes to these questions at some point:
Am I brave enough for rejection?
Am I brave enough to be let down?
Am I brave enough to be disappointed?
feature photo ©2015 Dennis Archer