Monday, January 4, 2010


We see it in fire fighters, champion sportspeople, soldiers and battlers alike. We see it also in cancer patients and pregnant women. And we see it personally in ourselves from time to time. Courage is the quintessence of virtue, the foundation of faith, and the reason behind almost all success. But, what is behind being or becoming courageous?

“When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only when there is something we can still cling to.”[1]

The theory follows that substance or certain things create fear in us. We’d be perfectly fearless if nothing made us afraid. (But, would we be full of courage?)

Yet, there are too many distractions in life to live the perfectly courageous life. This is why simplicity and the simplest life aid courage—the fearless life—more than anything else. The plain truth is there are so many things that cling to us or that we cling to which prevent us living courageously.

It is therefore a great challenge in life, and hence an ultimate victory, when we learn to routinely let go.

But the wisdom in this is not that straight forward. We can’t just let go of everything. Much of courage is renowned for the fact that it battles despite the fear; the things that can’t be let go. Sometimes we have to fight. But, then, it’s at a deeper and certainly different level that letting go facilitates courage.

Even in the important things we can learn to appropriately let go—it’s a caring ‘let go.’

In the perfection of courage we selectively care as we hold out hope in the denial of certain things i.e. especially clinging fear, to the holding fast of the truth in other inescapable aspects. We reduce the power of guilt, negative emotion, struggle, emotional baggage etc that drive us by throwing it out the cargo fuselage doors whilst at mid-flight, even at 30,000 feet i.e. in the mid of pressured life—when life is toughest.

Easier said than done is the removal of the things that increase our fear and undermine our courage. But it is necessary for us to do this in becoming the transcendent people we’re to be. This is everyone’s spiritual destiny. This of itself takes courage—and faith to do something we hope for without much evidence, but a gut feel, to suggest it’s the right thing to do.

Courage boiled down is a powerfully simplistic life. It’s throwing caution to the wind and throwing off the shackles of a past that will forever hold us back. It’s starting from scratch with full view of a hope-filled destination, despite the problems marring our vision.

Courage is freedom, both to take it in advance and to receive it. We sow courageously to reap freedom. It’s taking responsibility and control over things within the realm of our lives. Then the spiritual handbrake is finally released.

Life’s a fight. The fittest and most resilient fight and survive, even thrive. Learning to let go of the things that would hold us is mandatory if we’re to be courageous. But it is an appropriate, wise letting go which gets us there.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Carlos Castaneda, The Wheel of Time: The Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts About Life, Death and the Universe (Los Angeles, USA: LA Eidolona Press, 1998), p. 161. From the chapter, The Second Ring of Power.

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