The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.
"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
For the first nine months of our lives we experience the most blissful reality. The temperature is always perfect and we are never hungry or lonely.
Then it happens, we're forced out by contractions pushing down on our skulls and bones. The amniotic fluid leaves our lungs and we are burned by our first breath of cold air. If we were born in a hospital bright lights burned our eyes. In an instant our world changed from one of comfort to one of difficulty.
We are all born into courage but it is forced upon us by circumstance. As we grow two choices are available to us, these being to face difficulty or to avoid it.
Lao Tsu once wrote, "Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
Having gone through something as traumatic as birth one would think people would be prepared for lesser difficulties but for too many those memories are lost and supplanted by other memories and fears like the boogie man or our creepy uncle. If we were lucky our parental figures were loving and this initial state of being out of the womb gave us the confidence to explore our world.
Yet all of us are faced with things that scare us, cause us discomfort, things that we simply want to avoid. Yet how does that benefit us? Living in such a fashion is no better than slavery, a prisoner in ones own mind.
All of the Stepping Stones take courage. It is not simple to understand someone, be compassionate, or empathetic. Apologizing is anathema to our egos. Truth is easy when it's in our favor, difficult and seemingly pointless when it is not. Courage is the wind we can use to set sails along this enlightened path.
That's not to say we should not be frightened. We should accept all our emotions and allow them to pass through ourselves as part of the process of personal evolution. "Courage is not the lack of fear," wrote Mark Twain, "It is acting in spite of it."
Act with conscious volition. That is the mark of someone with true character. And accept your fears as part of the price of this journey, it is such a small price to pay for the results that can be brought about by a couragous heart and spirit. As President John F. Kennedy once said, "The courage of life is often a less dramatic spectacle than the courage of the final moment; but it is no less a magnificent mixture of triumph and tragedy. A man does what he must-in spite of personal consequences; in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures-and that is the basis of all morality."