Wednesday, March 13, 2013

“Wait!” or, The Day I found my Bravery

I suppose we all like to believe we’re brave sometimes, though we’re scared often enough.  I’m certainly afraid plenty; afraid of the dark, afraid of my shadow, afraid of strangers, afraid of plane crashes and falls and injuries.  Afraid of the unknown.

But we must all have bravery inside us somewhere.  True bravery to plow on despite those fears.  Bravery to say “no” to our doubts.  Bravery to remember we were brave once before.  Calling back on past bravery to create current bravery – yes.  It’s something I have to do now and then.  And I think back to the moment I first found my true bravery.  I remember it so well.*

I sat in the long corridor, gripping with white knuckles the bottom of the hard, plastic seat.  White from the force of my grip, white from fear.  My stomach somersaulted.  I wanted nothing more than to get up and run.  Run as fast as I could.  Run down the corridor.  Run past security.  Run out the big glass doors.  “Wait!  Wait for me!”  “Don’t leave yet, wait for me!”

What was I doing here?  Sitting on this cold, hard seat in my daddy’s old blue and red flannel with the soft quilted lining.  “Wait!  Wait for me!”  “Wait!”

Me, here, it was absurd.  I was the home girl, the one who wouldn’t even look at a college more than half an hour away.  The one who stopped by nearly once a week for four and a half years, who never missed a Christmas or an Easter or a Mothers’ Day at Grandma and Grandpa’s, who loved game nights in the kitchen and Fourth of Julys in the park, who preferred New Year’s Eve Monopoly with the family to any party.  And yet, here I was, alone in the airport – had I even ever been on a flight by myself before? – here I was, all packed and ready and about to move to Africa.  “Wait!”

I held onto the chair as much to keep myself from running than anything.  I was terrified.  Would I make it?  Would I get sick?  Would I have to eat bugs?  Would I die?  And most terrifying to me of all, would I lose all my friends?  Would their lives go on without me and change and not have room for me when I came back?

I looked down that corridor and saw myself running.  “Wait!  I changed my mind!  Let’s go home!”  “Wait!”  But I couldn’t run.  Not from this fear.  Not this time.  Everyone was too proud.  I couldn’t let them down.  I couldn’t run.

“Come on Daddy Bunny, we’ve got a world to change.”

Ok, I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that, though I probably did say something to Daddy Bunny.  Somehow, we moved towards the gate and we got on that plane.  I can’t say we never looked back, but we never ran.  And you know what, my worst fear did come true.  Few friends remain from before I left.  But, I’d do it all again.  Sometimes, we’re afraid most of things we needn’t fear.

Now, whenever I must confront a new challenge, a new unknown, a new fear, I remember that day, the day I found my bravery.  If I could get on that plane, I can face anything. …except peeing in the bush; I’ll never do that


* Ok, I’ve probably added details with the passage of time like I do with so many other “memories” as my mother likes to point out to me, but humor me.


Wendy said...

Become a geology major, you'll get over that fear of peeing in a bush the first time you have to spend all of daylight in the literal middle of nowhere for field work.

Jeannie said...

I'm with Aurelia on that last one - I can't do that - I'm the one that needed a seat in her African outhouse. Glad you were afraid at that point - I was, too. I wouldn't have minded if you came running back - but I'm glad for you that you stuck it out. That's the part that makes me proud. :)

goldenrail said...

No Wendy, I had to wait 24 hours my first week in Zambia; I don't think all of daylight in a field would do me in.

And Mommy, it's a cimbuzi, not an outhouse :P (And Daddy would have minded; he doesn't like when his daughters come back home.)

Jeannie said...

I couldn't remember the right word and didn't want to call it something else. ;) And you weren't even really living at home all through college.

goldenrail said...

But I was there a whole lot.