Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing We Bought a Zoo with my grandma. . . it was a phenomenal movie for many reasons (yes, Matt Damon in all his "dad hotness" is one of them), but there was a particular moment that has latched onto my memory; Matt Damon is speaking to his son in the movie about a girl and this is the advice he gives him: "Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery, and I promise you something great will come of it."
It made me start to think of all the ways in which a person can be brave, all the ways in which a person will be brave, all the ways in which 20 seconds of bravery can change a moment, a history, a life.
What does bravery mean to you? What would 20 seconds of "just embarrassing bravery" look like to you? Perhaps bravery is taking a flying leap out of that airplane hovering miles and miles above solid ground. Perhaps bravery is speaking in front of a massive group of strange, unknown faces. Perhaps bravery is looking someone in the eye and saying 'I love you.'
As I think about the internal checklist I have of things that are conducive to maintaining bravado, I realize that my acts of bravery may seem trivial to you, they may even seem simple to you. . . and likewise- perhaps an act of bravery, in your opinion, would be posting uninhibited thoughts online for anyone to see, perhaps an act of bravery, in your opinion, would be to mercilessly make fun of yourself in order to get a laugh out of someone, perhaps an act of bravery, in your opinion (and still mine), would be to look at someone and actually smile, and show your teeth while doing so.
Being brave isn't just about bold, unforgettable actions. . . being brave is about staying true to yourself, speaking for that kid in school that can't seem to find his own voice, and expanding your comfort zone. Being brave, for me, was starting this blog, regardless of who may, or may not, read it. Being brave, for me, is smiling at people with my teeth and simultaneously looking them in the eyes. Being brave, for me, is voicing goals I have out loud, and taking the steps to make those goals a reality.
As I think about this act that occurs everyday these are some of the things that I picture: the 18 year old boy signing up for the military to serve his country; the crying mother dropping her child off at a college multiple hours away from home; the little girl who goes out of her way to play with "that" kid at recess; the shy, young adult saying 'hello' to their crush; saying 'I love you' for the first time; kissing someone when it feels right; taking a chance, any chance, knowing full well you can fail; a mother or father working a full time job and a part time job so their babies have a warm home and hot meals; an impressionable, young adult saying 'no' when something isn't right. . .
As I get older I realize that acts of bravery are victories, some are small and some are monumental, but they are victories all the same. In my mind, acts of bravery are the twin of taking chances. . . if you are taking chances you are being brave- and it may not always go the way you wish it to- you may, in fact, fail in a gloriously, beautiful way, but for those 20 seconds, give or take, you are taking a chance and you are gorgeously brave. I strongly believe that even if in a specific moment you don't receive your desired goal from an act of bravery, in the long run you will be ridiculously rewarded for taking chances, dancing through the fire, and being the bravest you've ever been.
I don't know what bravery looks like to you, but I am willing to bet that bravery feels like the most exhilarating adrenaline rush. . . because whether you are standing up for others, standing up for yourself, or speaking the script of your heart- you're expanding your comfort zone. . . and I've heard that's where life begins.
So, you've got 20 seconds. . . how are you going to be brave?