The world, it seems, is always offering up advice. “Don’t give up,” it tells you, but equally it asks that you learn to let go. More than once I have tried to outrun my unhappiness, and more than once I have stayed to face it head-on. Make no mistake that neither choice is easy. Both require strength. Both are acts of courage.
I don’t what courage is, exactly, but I know it when I see it. Sometimes it is obvious, taking the form of activists, and leaders, and groups of people willing to stand up for what they believe is right. Sometimes it is a single voice speaking out against what’s wrong. Sometimes it is loud and ubiquitous and can appear to be so easy that we forget it is something extraordinary.
And sometimes it is ordinary. It is waking up each morning and starting all over again. It is daring to put one foot in front of the other, one day behind the next, to keep moving forward in a life that you may or may not cherish. Don’t ever underestimate the bravery it takes to keep living. It is far more difficult than death.
The world tells you that your time here is short. You have to follow your heart. You have to live in the moment. You can’t afford to spend one second on anything that doesn’t make you happy. But equally the world demands that you be practical. You have to plan for the future. You have to work hard. You have to participate in things that you may or may not enjoy.
Because your life could end tomorrow, but also, it could not, and so in every moment we make decisions and gamble on our time. Every moment we must ask ourselves “what if this is my final moment?” and equally “what if there are a million more to come?”
This is the cost, or perhaps the gift, of being human. We can understand time, but we cannot control it. We know death will arrive, but we cannot say when. We are aware of the inevitability of our end, and we live with that fear. But we are courageous, and so we keep living.
The world tells you to slow down, but also to keep up. It tells you to be quiet, but also to make noise. It tells you to dream big, but also stay grounded. It tells you to be happy, but also not to fear sadness. It tells you to plant roots, but also to explore. It tells you to be yourself, but also asks that you keep changing. It tells you that none of this is easy, and it’s right.
Because all of this is right, or at least, none of it is wrong. There is no advice that will diminish the confusion or frustration of what it means to live a life. No path is simple. No choice is easy. No person has every found the answers to these questions.
But every person since has continued to try. And what better name can we give that than courage? What is braver than continuing to search? What is more daring than hope?
What else is there to do in this moment than have the strength to simultaneously believe it is the last and the first of many more to come? How will you choose to spend it? What dreams will you have? What steps will you take? What love will you feel? How will you inspire others? What advice will you give?
What words will you write?