Brave Things by: Amelia Walton

The following post was written by the amazing, Amelia Walton. You can read more of Amelia's wisdom on her blog, Flux Capacitating
A popular magazine that many of you probably read posed an essay question over the summer that was simple in its terms, but daunting in its scope: what’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

This question kept rattling around with me for a couple of weeks, in part I think because I’m about to give birth again and nothing makes a woman (or at least this one) think about being brave like the prospect of bringing life into the world. But I also found that I was being a little hard on myself for not stumbling across more kittens that needed to be rescued from burning buildings or saving a small country which lead to being a little defiant that I was limiting myself to thinking that there’s such thing as a small act of courage. And finally, when I thought that I just might take a stab at writing that essay, I realized that I was too shy to say, LOOK WORLD! I DID SOMETHING GREAT! I wasn’t brave enough to talk about my own leaps of faith, and that’s where my most recent battle with courage is now beginning.

It’s these last two things, trying to put courage on a scale, and being too cowardly to talk about personal triumph, that I want to build a bridge and get on over. Because I don’t get it. As women (and fellas too! Hello fellas that might be reading this!) we know that we are the hardest on each other. We talk big talk about squashing the bullies and exalting each other and recognizing that we’re not living our lives AT each other, but rather WITH one another. As Rebecca posted about this summer, there’s room here for everyone. We know this, but we struggle with living it which is totally understandable. Our egos are noisy little motherlovers, you know?

I was (am?) afraid to tell a story of bravery because all I could hear were the Internet clickty clackty finger tips out there that would read my words and pass judgment. I’m afraid to write about the choices that I’ve made in my life that caused my heart to race or that made me feel ridiculously proud of myself or might just be different from the choices that you’ve made because I’m afraid that someone might read all of that and assume that I’m saying that my choice was better than yours. And THAT. That is the thing that’s holding us all back. It’s making us little, because I might be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure that bravery begets bravery. You show me yours and I’ll show you mine. And instead of looking for the differences between us, we could just say, thank you for sharing that with me. Thank you. Thank you for being scared to death and then doing that thing. Saying those words. Standing in that fire. Telling that story. Thank you for inspiring me.

As it turns out, sharing our acts of bravery with each other is actually the generous gift of spirit.

In trying to distill down my life into a single “most brave act”, I realized that leaning my head toward my now husband’s face for that first terrifying and exhilarating kiss was a hell of a lot harder for me than strapping myself into a harness while a 12-year-old boy rattled off instructions to me in Spanish (I took French) before pushing me out into the Costa Rican canopy for the supposed ride of my life. As it turns out, it’s very easy for me to stand in front of a huge crowd and chat away but unbelievably difficult for me to tell a friend that my feelings are hurt. I’m great at jumping off of tall things, in fact I love it, but my stomach will be in knots for days if I owe someone an apology. Bravery knows no scale. I started this piece three weeks ago and still haven’t sent it to Rebecca because I’m afraid that it will flop, or be great, or be nothing, or be average or…just. Blaaaagh! Brain! Be quiet mind, be brave. LEAP!
So here it is. I’m not going to send my essay to that magazine because I never wrote it. Maybe I wasn’t brave enough to do it, or maybe the last months that I’ve been thinking about courage have been cathartic enough. Instead I’m rolling over all the courage that I worked up to write about this by asking you—me—a new question, one that I think is even better (sorry magazine editors, no hard feelings, you are awesome and your moms are all really lovely).

When was the last time that you asked someone you love to tell you about one of the bravest things they’ve ever done and then sat patiently while they told you their story? I don’t think I’ve ever done this, but I want to start. If you’re brave enough to tell me your story, I just might start to have more courage to not only tell you mine, but to tackle new things and then you’ll do the same and there we’ll both be, the bravest courageous sisters in the universe. And that courage begets another kind of courage, which is to just applaud one another for telling our stories without fear that one person’s triumph only serves to highlight another person’s perceived failure.

Believe it or not, writing this post and knowing that it’s going out to all of you is big for me; it’s my response to Mrs. Roosevelt challenging us to do one thing that scares us every day and I’m certain that’s a little bit laughable to some people because this wouldn’t be scary for them, and because honestly? What a luxury that my big fear in life gets to be worrying about writing. What a luxury. There’s no mountain involved, no immediate danger, no great story to tell afterward…I’m just a woman who’s 31 and trying to find the courage to write it down. But I also know that we are each truly brave when we think we can’t or won’t do something and then we go on and do it anyway. That’s our story.

Finally, this: when I was in labor with my son, I was about eight hours into it, sitting in a bathtub and with every fiber of my being, I started calling on the women of the world that had done this to join me in that moment. I drew on my imagined well of women who knew that moment and they answered, lending me courage from the four corners of the earth to birth a little boy. Laugh if you will, but I’ve gone back to that moment since then, learning and leaning on the power of reaching out to the global and possibly cosmic narrative of the communal experience, hoping that strength begets strength, passion begets passion, and courage begets courage. When we support each other, we support ourselves. We become brave.