Courage I

DSC_0004Titanium has many properties. One of these is toughness, which in metallurgy is the ability of a metal to withstand repeated twisting and bending without fracturing.

Courage doesn’t always roar…

Many months ago, I spent a very long time one day changing the background on my computer. It shouldn’t have been a big deal. But I wanted something that was different than the standard Windows selection, something that spoke to the trials that both I and many others I knew were facing. The sort of trial that isn’t an instantaneous dilemma to be addressed immediately — the swerve to avoid a large animal, the hot fire, the teens fighting out in the street — but the long-term slog that requires endurance as well as the ability to still address the idiotic animal, the unexpected flames, or the hormonally-charged combatants.

It took forever. It was silly. And it was very important to me.

Eventually, I found a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, I will try again tomorrow.”

The first time I ran into that quote, I thought it was the procrastinator’s dream poem. Hey! It’s all about putting something off at the end of the day!

Graduate students don’t stop at the end of the day. We work until 3 am. Then we get up at 6 and do it all over again. We can’t procrastinate…that much. Besides, real courage is running into that fire or breaking up the fistfight. I dumped it and went on hunting. It was not me. So not me.

[Oddly enough, I’ve been in the odd fight and dodged several others. I’ve put out fires (granted they were very small. Occasionally, I was what was on fire, which was plenty of motivation to have courage suddenly roar to life.) Mostly, I didn’t think. I just did. It didn’t feel courageous, because it wasn’t — most of the time it was not thinking that had gotten me into that situation in the first place, after all. I daydream that I will be brave when it will really count, when some part of my brain was actually thinking about the situation. When I felt like I had to make a choice to be brave and to act. But I know I’m a wuss, on my own. Going through surgeries and endless tests and doctor’s visits are sure proving this. I am a bloody wuss. But sometimes, oddly, as a Christian I’m taught that strength is made perfect in weakness, that when I am weak is when I can most realize from whom what strength I have comes….Doesn’t mean I’m still not a bloody wuss. :)]

I found lots of other posts of roaring flames and blazing firefights towering seas and mottoes about courage. Still, that one irksome poem kept coming back to me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many different types of courage there are. Synonyms for “courage” all have different shades of meaning, and include daring, valor, fortitude, guts, grit, moxie, even tenacity and endurance. Turns out, resiliency is its own form of courage…the toughness of titanium in a human sense. The ability to bend and twist, repeatedly, and come back to do so again. I picked that poem as my background, and I haven’t changed it since. Since then, I’ve spent months in pain, and frankly, sometimes, fear. And an awful lot more time spent frustrated. “I will try again tomorrow.” Again. And again. And again, d*mn it!

And then I see that beautiful screen saver. No, be patient… I will be courageous. I am a titanium butterfly, and I will always strive to show the strength I’ve been given alongside the weakness. And that sometimes means having a quiet voice that acknowledges the situation, and fights it with resiliency. After all…

Courage does not always roar.

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