‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.’
– Mark Twain
A lifetime of classical education has given me ample opportunities to think about the essence, definition, and virtues of courage. But the application of courage looks different than my romanticized childish view imagined.
We all hope to be a hero; the person who will throw themselves in front of a car to save a baby. But how do we know that in that split second we will chose courage over personal safety? I’ve polled this question to several of the bravest people I know, and the answer has been fairly unanimous; practice courage in everyday situations.
Until last year, I thought that I would practice courage by throwing myself in front of my friend when we’re encountered by a dangerous stranger, or putting out the kitchen fire myself so nobody else will get burned. But how often are we given those opportunities? That’s like running once a year the trying to race in a marathon.
Our morals, ethics, and our courage must be practiced every day. And not in any grand heroics. When I go to a party with people I don’t know, or graciously face a person who I know doesn’t like me, or go running with friends who are much stronger than me, I’m facing the insecurities of my soul, and facing the fears that go with them. I’m exercising my ‘courage’ muscles so they aren’t atrophied for the dramatic moment that I might need them to protect myself or someone else.
My small daily struggles and challenges are for the greater purpose of preparing me for something bigger. Nothing is insignificant in the refining of my soul.