notquiteold

Nancy Roman

We Are All Brave

As I watch the scenes from the Texas floods, I am overcome with awe for the bravery I see. People heading TOWARDS disaster, not away, in order to save others. I watch the confirmation that all Life is precious, especially as I watched one woman working with others to save baby bats from the rising water under a bridge. This is what she could do, and so she did it.

And I am struck not only by acts of significant heroism, but by the ordinary bravery of ordinary folks.

Because I see how brave you have to be just to leave your home for a makeshift shelter, not knowing if you will have anything to return to. How brave it is to wait – if that is all you can do. Or even to be safe somewhere, and wonder who you know that may not be safe yet. To reassure your children when you are so very frightened yourself.

I was thinking about writing about this ‘ordinary’ bravery, when I listened to an old radio interview from 1989 with John Updike. He was speaking, without excess emotion, about growing up with a stutter, and about living with disfiguring, but oh-so-ordinary, psoriasis.

And I knew I was on to something. I knew I had to write about ordinary bravery.

Updike spoke of how impossible it was to pass by a reflection in a window without stopping to glance – to see if maybe he had changed.

And I think of the bravery of people with disfigurements – however simple or complex – who get up every day and face the world anyway.  The very bravery of people with limps who walk by us on the sidwalk. The boys with acne who ask girls out on dates The girls with crooked teeth who smile at us.

Those bats under the bridge may have been afraid – but most likely they have no knowledge of what could happen next. They live in the moment. But human beings can imagine all sorts of futures – all sorts of bad things that could happen next. And yet they go on.

I am impressed by the bravery of first-time parents as they bring their infants home. Women who have never been mothers, and men who have never been fathers. They are so very aware of the magnificant and terrible responsibility in their arms. And they smile with true joy and take this grave responsibility and go on.

I admire the bravery of every person who signs a mortgage or a new lease – or even a buys a car.  No one is sure he has made the very best decision. Nor is sure it will all work out. But after a sleepless night or two, plunges ahead. Makes it work.

And like Updike with his stutter, how brave it is for those with speech impediments, or thick accents, or the unheard voice of the deaf, to speak up. To say what needs to be said, in spite of their imperfect sound. And even those with clear voices – how brave to address a meeting, or answer a question in class. There is always the danger they will be wrong, will be ridiculed. But they speak.

How brave it is to face the judgment of others. To risk criticism in small actions – singing or dancing, selling a handmade item, writing a book that some may not like. Putting it out there anyway. And even the very private bravery of every overweight person – and there are many in this country – who worries at the supermarket that someone will criticize what they put in their cart.

And those who start a new job, as they enter a strange building where they have no mastery of the job, no friends, no lunch plans, no map to the restroom. Yet they get dressed up in what they hope will be appropriate attire and walk through the unknown door in the hopes of a future.

And children trying new foods, taking the training wheels off the bike, jumping for the first time off the diving board. And teenagers figuring out their high school schedule, trying out for track, getting behind the wheel of the car for their first lesson. College kids being dropped off at the dorm. What trepidation they must feel in growing up. We all felt it – that combination of exhilation and apprehension. How brave they are every day.

There is also bravery in growing old. In coping with illness. With taking new steps after hip surgery. With managing on a fixed income. With confronting death that visits now with more frequency – friends, family, a spouse of fifty years. Saying, “Thank you for coming,” at the funeral, and then returning to a now-emptier home.

And here is my own small bravery:

Three times a week, I put on my skimpy gym clothes and go off to Yoga or Zumba class. I stand at the front of the room. And everyone behind me can see that I am not perfect. I have scoliosis. I show my crooked back to the world. But I still go. I still smile. I do my best.

We are all brave.

yogashirt

Getting ready for Yoga. Smiling.

 

16 Comments

  1. Bravery comes in all ‘shapes and sizes’; we all need to be more brave – to speak out for what we believe , to do what we can to help those who can’t help themselves, to accept (and not judge) others, to be the person we were ‘meant’ to be. Thank you for your (another) wonderful and thought-provoking post – you were brave to write it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think most people do the best they can – and when we recognize that, we see so much we can admire.

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  2. Christine

    Love this! Now I’m going to go practice my fife – although I know most of the corps are rolling their eyes!

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    • do what you love… you are good enough for you – and that will make you good enough ‘period’.

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  3. I wanted to write this piece but you beat me to it. All the things I wanted to say except I would have gotten a bit preachy about how people are all pulling together, all colors, religions, political slant, poor, rich, and the list goes on and on. I’m hypnotized by the unsung heroes who are regular Joe and Jane and Jorge and Maria and fisherman, furniture store king, famous, young and old. We’re all in this together. It’s amazing how such tragedy can make us aware of our materialism and the reality that what we work so blooming hard for can truly be gone in a split second. And all we have is each other. And a feeling of gratefulness to wake up another day.

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    • I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose all your possessions and still be thankful you are alive. I admire these people so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I couldn’t agree more. Every so often we need to remind ourselves that everyone is dealing with some kind of pressure that can either make or break their day. I also have scoliosis with one shoulder visibly higher than the other. Some days I don’t notice it and other days I feel like no matter how much exercise I do and posture reminders I give myself that it is all for nought. My biggest fear is that it will get worse as I get older. That’s what motivates me to be brave and keep moving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so hard to face our imperfections. I wish I could just “get over it” when it comes to my crooked spine, but it’s difficult. I work out to keep my muscle tone and flexibility as good as it can be, and Yoga has eliminated the pain I used to experience. Then I just choose my clothes carefully and carry on.

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  5. Lovely, Nancy! I heard that Fresh Air interview with Updike, too. And I love your yoga class shirt!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that shirt too! And it is so swingy for zumba – it makes me feel so free.

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  6. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s true. In the next few days I will be moving into a new town, into the top floor of a very tall condo building, into a very small space. It is terrifying me, but I will be brave. At least I will have a roof over my head which is more than I can say for some in Houston. I have been overwhelmed by having to downsize drastically and say goodbye to things I hold dear. People in Houston didn’t get to choose what stays and what goes. It’s just gone. So, I will put on my big girl pants and get ‘er done.

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    • I am trying very hard to downsize without a lot of success. But just a few weeks ago, someone asked my husband about clothes to donate to a shelter – and I gave him some very lovely tops and jackets. I don’t think I will even miss them – I have so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a wonderful subject you wrote about. The positivity that shows through what you define ad bravery is very refreshing

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  9. I have a few friends who live in the Houston area – it was nerve-wrecking wondering if they would be alright. Fortunately, they are fine.

    You go, you! Enjoy the yoga, zumba and everything else you want to do! Absolutely no apologies required!

    Like

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  1. We Are All Brave — notquiteold – Random (The Blog About Everything)

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