This entry is dedicated to Sheriff – for challenging me to duel.
Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. ~ Maya Angelou
It is a tiny precipice upon which I perch; a thin shard of rock where many paths converge and I espouse my truths of this world – which are rooted in the wisdom of my experiences – while I remain aware that others will disagree, quite simply because my truths are not the TRUTH.
This week I would like to share how Courage taught me (seemingly) opposing virtues. But first, a few side-notes to help achieve a clear understanding.
I begin by explaining my use of the word truth, versus the word Truth. When I speak of truth in this blog, I am speaking of those things which I view as true, which does not mean they are capital-T Truth. <<nor does it mean I will always believe them, for my truths are constant in their changing 😉 >>
As for the Truth, following is my latest compilation of the capital-T Truths which are TRUE for every human on this planet:
- Universal Laws of Nature: Gravity, Death, Constancy of Change, Etc.
That is the entire list, at least as far as I have been able to discern; you are free to disagree. 🙂 <<i once believed other items should be on this list, such as Love, but i have come to realize that all humans do not experience Love as a truth, nor a myriad of other items that i deem as true >>
Pendulum of Life
I am a pendulum; back-and-forth, I swing through life. It is not uncommon for me to realize I have swung too far in one direction of my life and yet, when I attempt to correct myself, I find that I swing further into the opposite realm than I desire…and so begins my back-and-forth.
Pendulum of Life
It took me quite some time to be patient with this aspect of myself for I would prefer to step directly onto the central-point – but, I have come to understand that without the swing, I am denied the opportunity of experiencing various arcs of Life, and experience is essential to my wisdom. So, ironically, my discovery of ‘central or balanced’ is due to my experience of vast extremes. Such is moi!
Courage for MY Beliefs
Raised as a dutiful daughter amidst many siblings which created a household-cacophony of chaos and mayhem, I did all I could to ‘keep the peace’, ‘placate’ and ‘do as ordered’. This meant that when my beliefs were challenged by anyone with ‘perceived’ authority – basically everyone, sans my two younger sisters – I acquiesced my beliefs for theirs. It was a desperate attempt to create peace in my young life.
Then, after 4 decades of living – plus surviving the rough seas of a manipulative relationship – I decided I would believe my own beliefs. So, I breathed in all of the Courage I could find and sent the pendulum swinging – me, as the pendulum, had stayed so long on one side of the arc that I swung far, far, far into the other realm – into the realm of ‘I am right! MY beliefs are right!‘
It took a tremendous amount of courage for me to hold firm to my beliefs for it created situations that embodied the very things I feared: chaos, anger, unrest, displeasure. This was a transformative time for me as I learned to stand firm when others did not agree with my unusual, bizarre and non-conforming beliefs, and it was also a necessary part of my personal growth…but one day, I realized my pendulum had swung far-too-far…again. 🙂
Courage for OTHER Beliefs
I began to notice that when others ‘challenged’ me to a duel of beliefs, I would react with any number of unhealthy responses: Anger, Arrogance, Stubbornness, Haughty Silence, RIGHT-ness, etc.
And so, once again, I breathed in Courage and sent the pendulum swinging back into the opposite realm, but not as far as before. This time, I was able to hold my beliefs as true, while being curious why other people believe as they do, and most importantly, how their beliefs are as true for them as mine are for me.
It may not sound like much but this swing away from being right and into curiosity was terrifying because I feared I would lose my ability to hold my own beliefs, that I would ‘give-in’, ‘keep the peace’, ‘remain silent’, that I would lose my voice – I did not.
What I learned– am learning! – through this process is that I can hold my own truths as true while others disagree with me and hold their truths as true. So, although it may seem odd, courage taught me opposing virtues: how to hold my own beliefs as true AND how to hold other’s beliefs as true, simultaneously. <<i no longer see them as oppositional to each other>>
I admit that this ability does little to solve many of the problems we face today, but neither does it further harm these divisive issues: an <<important!>> baby step, I presume.
And yes, I still get triggered when I feel threatened by others who do not agree with me, but I am <<mostly 🙂 >> able to keep the pendulum from swinging into the realm of right…and remain courageously curious about another’s interior world.
And to be fully honest, I do not naturally seek out people who do not agree with me. Instead, I prefer to chat amiably with those that think like I do, that agree with my every whim, and find me witty and so damn wise! 🙂
Following are a few questions to be thoughtful about:
- Do I have an inner pendulum? If so, am I curious about experiencing/learning from the arcs that is swings through? Or, do I attempt to stop the pendulum, perhaps from fear of experiencing an unknown aspect of Life?
- Am I out of balance in (an area of) my life? If so, can I be courageously curious about the opposite realm? What would it entail for me to learn balance, knowing that I may experience further imbalance beforehand?
- What are my truths? Do I seek to engage with only others who share my truths? If so, why?
- How do I generally behave when others do not agree with my truths? Is this a healthy response for me? For them?
- What is my list of capital-T Truths that are TRUE for every human ? Does this list reflect how I view humans/life around the world?
- Given a space of safety, am I willing to be curious about my own beliefs? Do my beliefs change with age/experience? <<perhaps mature? 😉 >>