My son has been practicing taekwondo for about a year and a half now. Since he started this endeavor we have seen him grow exponentially! He has developed massive amounts of self esteem and confidence. As I watched him last night and listened to him recite the tenets of the course, I was awestruck at just how far he had come in the last eighteen months. I was also a bit shamed as I preach to him about courage and bravery… the two traits I feel I am lacking at the moment, while he exhibits them to the highest degree each day.
I asked my son what courage and bravery meant to him. He told me it was trying to do something new or something you never thought you could do or that you are just afraid to try and then added “you know like Po in Kung Fu Panda”. My nine year old hit the nail on the head and he called me out on my biggest fears…trying something I never thought I could do and am afraid of trying. My son asked me why I was asking him about bravery and frankly, I wasn’t sure I really knew the answer nor did I know how to explain the conundrum to him. I did my best to explain to him that I wished I had more courage. He looked at me puzzled and said that he thought I was the bravest person he knew. He talked about different things about me and that I have done that he thought were very brave. I walked away from that conversation in tears not because I was magically brave but because I realized that my mindset had to change.
Acts of courage happen every day. We see monumental acts with our men and women of the military every single day. We witness our officers of the law and firemen in the line of duty each day too. But since my son explained what he perceives to be courage and bravery, I have noticed it in all other facets of my life and in the people who surround me each day. Brave is the little boy who gets himself out of bed and walks into school each day even though the bully who has tormented him could be waiting around the corner. Courage is at the very heart of the mom who tearfully drops that little boy off and prays to God he is safe that day and makes his way back to her when the last bell rings. Brave is the newly single mom I recently watched who delivers her children to their father for the weekend for the first time without her. Courage is the tenacity of the mom I watch take on the world with new endeavors because she knows she can change the world with her pen. Brave are the two grown daughters I know who embrace their own children while grieving the loss of a mother for one and father for the other. Courage is embedded in the child who stands up to the crowd to support his friend even when it’s not the popular thing to do. Brave is the golden retriever who puts himself in front of his family in order to protect them from the stranger approaching and courage is just one of the traits of the little bulldog puppy who hides between the retriever’s legs but lets out a ferocious bark! I am surrounded by people and animals who display these traits every single day and I’m working to channel some of that bold energy.
This morning I read, yes on Facebook and yes from my “special friend”, a simple sentence that said “the less you want, the more you have”. As I absorbed what that really meant it occurred to me that it serves me far better to focus on the times in my life when I have been brave and have demonstrated monumental moments of courage even when those moments seem so small. I also realized that some of the moments that I have felt the weakest were also some of my strongest days. It became clear that I have been working through this issue subconsciously as well. I realized that I talk about the cancer that once invaded my body without tears now but rather with a sense of “I kicked its ass” kind of attitude. I realized that just a few short weeks ago I couldn’t run two miles and would never have even attempted it and certainly not in front of anyone yet today I got out there and plugged away at three miles and felt fabulous. Six months ago I was terrified of Facebook and what I might find or worse yet, what might find me yet recently I have sought out people from my past who I now yearn to talk to daily. I realized that I used to sleep with the tv on when my husband traveled as if that would stave off a would be assailant in the middle of the night and now I crave silence and darkness for my rest.
These all seem like such minor things. Baby steps. But I realized that each one of these baby steps lead to bigger steps and faster steps until finally the marathon has been complete. So we are making progress even when it doesn’t seem like it. As I hug my little boy tonight I’ll whisper my thanks to him for teaching his momma yet another day. I’ll also whisper my thanks to God, the Universe and Angels for sending this little Angel on earth to be my teacher and to lead me by example with courage and bravery, Kung Fu Panda Style!
With So Much Love and Gratitude,