As I am starting this my [eh-hem] third blog, I thought of all the things I wanted/needed to say. What would I want this blog to be about? What is its purpose? How serious am I about it? As I pondered all of these things, the subject of bravery came up in my mind, and I started rolling it around as I got ready for work one morning. (This is the time I do my best thinking.) But before I talk about bravery, allow me to introduce myself and this new special internet space, which I hope you will visit often.
My name is Rachel. I have lived "a life." That's the way I like to describe the very long list of the ups, downs, and sideways my life has taken in my 33 years. I am a "Mormon," (or LDS for an official title), a writer, a musician, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a daughter. I am human, and always striving to be more. (Some days more than others.) So that's me. But why have I brought you here, you may ask.
Well, as I am working on several book projects, I got to thinking that I had more immediate things to say than could be worked into any sort of published work. I had questions to ask, opinions to formulate or change (my own), and new acquaintances I wanted to make. So why not start a blog that could turn into an online discussion place? I'm not here to preach at you or bore you with unending social commentary. I will express my opinions, ask questions, and open the discussion for your comments. So, let's be brave together and learn from each other.
Now, while I'm on the subject of bravery, let's get to it. One of my favorite songs right now is "Brave" by Sara Bareilles. It's all about speaking up for yourself and facing your fears. I've been seeing a lot of stories, articles, etc. about bravery lately in different contexts: the celebrity who "comes out," the kid who stands up to the bully, the mother fighting cancer.
Bravery can mean different things at different times to different people. To me, bravery does not mean taking unnecessary risks like jaywalking in heavy traffic just for a cheap thrill, or wearing dangling earrings around toddlers (just kidding, that's brave). No, my definition of bravery is performing an action (any action), in spite of fear, in order to accomplish a greater purpose.
One person may be brave by getting out of bed and going to work, burdened with the crushing weight of grief and depression. Maybe a single mother is brave for facing another day on food stamps, despite her self-sufficient nature because she'll do whatever is necessary to provide for her kids. The man who stands up for unpopular truth in a world full of media-fed lies. The woman who walks out of a decade-long abusive marriage, in a culture that frowns on divorce, in order to protect herself and her children. The six-year-old learning how to read with a learning disability despite being laughed at by his peers. The father who puts his arm around his son and tells him that crying doesn't make him a sissy. The survivor of childhood sexual abuse who faces every day, hoping her fears and anxieties will subside, and finally speaks out about what happened to her. What makes one thing more brave than another? Why do we celebrate some acts of bravery and dismiss or don't even think about others?
The list could go on and on. I submit that we all do brave things every single day. Why not foster a greater sense of purpose to feed your bravery?
And what about the media? What about all the things we're told are brave, all the stories we read on Facebook every day? I do not dismiss them. If those stories are true, I say, yes, they absolutely should be celebrated. But then, is it sometimes just as brave to be silent as to speak out? In a world which encourages us to spew our unedited thoughts (and sometimes not completely thought-out thoughts) all over Facebook and Twitter every minute of every day, is it not just as brave to pause, take a few moments, hours, or days to meditate and ponder on what our thoughts really are when they're not being fed to us by the masses? Find what inspires or moves you to action. Listen to your conscience, your heart, and mind. Don't be a lemming heading for the cliff. Sometimes bravery means not jumping off the cliff. I just wanted to throw out the question: what do you think bravery is? What moves you? What touches your heart? But here's my one caveat to that question: in your REAL life, not just a story that the media told you was brave. Where do you see bravery around you and how does it affect you? I encourage you today to go out and find bravery in yourself and in others, and celebrate it.