“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” ~ Vincent Van Gogh
Courage comes in so many forms, from the courage it takes to go off into battle, to the courage it takes to step out of the door and into something new. Courage means something different to each of us. For those who are facing debilitating diseases, courage could be something taken for granted, with a smile they greet us while the fears are bouncing around in their heads and hearts. We see courage and they may see no other alternative. For some traveling alone takes courage and for others it is a way of life. For some courage is having the difficult conversation with someone they love and for others courage is what it takes to walk away from someone who they once loved.
Courage shows up in small and big ways. It takes courage to take those training wheels off of the bicycle knowing it can easily tip one way or the other. It takes courage to climb a mountain we have never climbed or swim in an ocean deep and dark. It takes courage to go somewhere alone, it takes courage to start anew. Displays of courage are all around.
Imagining a life without attempting anything, always playing it safe and never going anywhere or doing anything new feels boring and perhaps the antithesis of living a life. Life is to be lived, which means trying new things, attempting something out of ordinary. And that is different for all of us, but it takes courage no matter what it is.
As I contemplated this quote seen at the end of the Van Gogh Immersive experience, I realized it took courage for me to go to this experience alone. I was struck by how I was a bit apprehensive about buying the single ticket and heading to the city alone. I thought about how I have traveled alone all over the world and have gone to museums and other venues by myself, why was this different? A friend shared that it may have to do with expectations. My expectations when I am traveling alone is that I will experience everything and do so by myself. However when what I want to do is near where I live, my expectation is that I would have a friend to attend with, and that expectation was not met. That expectation is what then triggers my fears of being alone. My favorite FEAR acronym is False Expectations Appearing Real; here the expectation is that I have someone to go places with, which appears real but is not always. I don’t have “my person” so I don’t have someone to go most places with me. All my fears of being judged and of course judging myself come to the surface. When someone you thought loved you makes the statement, “maybe you are just hard to live with,” those fears of not being good enough to have “a person” flood me. They cause me to question if I am even a good person, which creates the vicious cycle of not good enough, self sabotage and feel sorry for myself. I worked really hard at not letting it this time around. Instead I decided to just be in the moment, immerse myself in the experience instead of in the fact that I was doing it alone.
Once I was there, I reveled in my aloneness. It meant I could sit for as long as I wanted without being disturbed. It meant that I could move throughout the 3 rooms without worrying if that was what the other person wanted to do. I could sit on the floor and take it all in, the colors, the brush strokes, the music, the transition from one painting to another. I could look at the reflection of the paintings on the mirrored columns in the center of one room or the orb off to the side of another. I could get lost in the music without someone trying to talk with me.
I walked out of the experience feeling empowered and full of courage. Knowing I have been alone more in my adult life than not, and knowing that this feeling of insecurity and fears still pop up was actually enlightening for me. It allowed me to go deeper into what bothered me, and then deal with it on a level I had not in the past. I spent time really understanding my expectations and how to lessen them so that I do not wallow in disappointment or self-pity. I have worked recently to give up any expectations about some people who used to be very important in my life, recognizing that people and circumstances change and not everyone is supposed to stay in your life forever.
I also began to think about what else I want to do that I have not because of a lack of courage. From the simple and mundane to the extraordinary. I know I have more courage than I have displayed to date, I have more I want to attempt in life and I don’t need a partner to do any of it.
What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? What are you waiting for the courage to do? Now’s the time!