February 25, 2013

A Braver Life, or Today I Write

Bravery, by Nathaniel Eckstrom (via)

One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is fear as dream-killer.  The opposite of dreams is fear, I’m convinced.

It is very hard to live a brave life.  By brave, I mean following up on opportunities, going for your dreams, and allowing yourself to dream in the first part.  Going against the tides of your life and the world around you to go after that which lights you up, whether that’s doing art or following a career as an animal communicator or going to Africa to help the poor.

It’s so much easier to be safe, to do what we’re supposed to do.  I had a counselor once who said, “Don’t ‘should’ yourself to death.”  Because it can be death, a slow spiral where you feel like you’re drowning.  And the whole world around you and your family and friends all have an agenda for you.  They want you to be answering their needs, doing what you’re expected, and not changing an iota. 

And beyond that, you can take on the fears of those around you.  The political climate of the last ten or fifteen years has included lots of fear-mongering, and it’s like mass hysteria took over there for a while ~ even now with the whole gun thing.  It’s about fear.  And you can also take on the fears of those closest to you, and they only want what’s best for you, so you honor that and before you know it, your life is very small.

The problem with all this is you can’t just make one big decision and everything changes.  Well, you can decide, “I’m going to live a braver life,” but then what it comes down to is a whole bunch of very small decisions every day.  Do you carve away time to do your art, or do you do the laundry?  Do you follow up on that serendipitous connection a friend mentioned, or do you not bother?  Do you take care of your body so it’s in the best health it can be so that you’re ready to follow your dream, or do you get fast food because it’s cheap and easy?

So, a braver life, one tiny step at a time. Today I write.

PS And if you want a smart and hilarious take on being brave, read Patty Chang Anker's Facing Forty Upside Down blog ( and follow her author page on FB (!/PattyChangAnker) and her on Twitter (@PattyChangAnker).


Carissa Lentz said...

Great encouragement! I hate that "should" voice. For me, it kills any legitimate creativity, whether I am thinking "I should write," or whether I am thinking "I should do the laundry rather than write." Now how to ignore it...?

Ken said...

Who is it that said, "write like you are an orphan?"