Today we arrive at the final post in this series (boo!), and the final letter of COURAGE, which is E for Evolution.
When I wrote that fantasy obituary, one of the defining features of the courageous people that I admired was that they seemed to have lived many lifetimes in one, after each chapter redefining themselves, taking on a new challenge, building upon what they had achieved before. One challenge would be not just an end in itself, but a stepping stone to the next.
And that is how I aspire to be.
I picture my comfort zone as being like a bubble, and I’m inside it. I believe that if I don’t keep pushing the boundaries, keep expanding my comfort zone, my comfort zone will actually get smaller and smaller, until I’m shrink-wrapped in such a tiny comfort zone that I can’t move, I can’t achieve anything, I can’t grow. And so I want to keep pushing, keep developing, keep evolving. I want to keep showing what an ordinary person can do when they put their hearts and minds and souls into it.
I want to show that courage is a choice born out of what the world need from us right now, and we all have to step up and be courageous if we are to face the challenges, and explore the opportunities, that face the world today.
Courage – Nature or Nurture?
So, did I have to row across three oceans to find my courage? Or, like the Cowardly Lion, was courage something I had all along? And all I needed was a quadruple gin to help me find it?
For me, maybe I did have to do the whole ocean rowing thing. At that point in my life, emerging from a career and a marriage, I had something I needed to prove. I needed to burst out, not so much from my past, but more from my self-limiting beliefs. I needed to make a grand gesture, more to myself than to anybody else, about what I stood for.
In many indigenous traditions, there are rituals that mark the transition from one stage of life to the next, and I sometimes think that it is a shame that we have lost that in our western world, as it really honours the accumulation of wisdom and celebrates what we have to offer in each chapter of our lives.
For me, back then, I needed my rite of passage, my coming of age, my vision quest, my watery walkabout. I needed to mark my transition from a lost little girl into a woman with a role in the world, a contribution to make, a unique gift to offer.
And I really, deeply, believe that we all have exactly that – a role in the world, a contribution to make, a unique gift to offer.
The Grandest Version of the Greatest Vision
I used to play small. But then I realised I was doing myself a disservice, and doing the world a disservice. We are facing unprecedented challenges, and we need people to be the best and most courageous that they can be. In his books, Neale Donald Walsch suggests that we have an obligation to be the “grandest version of the greatest vision that we ever had of ourselves” so that we contribute to the evolution of the whole.
Marianne Williamson says: “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Your World Needs You
So, now that you have seen how it’s possible for a previously very ordinary person to find her courage, please ask yourself what would inspire you to find yours.
What do you most care about?
How can you make a contribution?
What will make you feel as joyful as this? (video of my arrival into Antigua after rowing my first ocean, the Atlantic)
What would be the first tiny step that you would need to take to get you on that path, or to take you further along it?
Please share any comments, commitments, or other thoughts in the comments section below. Don’t be shy. Be courageous!