living courageously... but what is that all about?

live courageously.  what does this even mean?  i've contemplated it for a while now, as it is no small task and rather difficult to understand - living courageously.  textbook terms, i'd say it includes not only an adventurous spirit, but the recognition that there's a purpose to be had and to go after it with white hot passion.

there's something quite romantic about having a purpose, isn't there?  to have a calling or something specific to do with your life that's both knowledgeable and influential.  but truthfully, few people ever get a clear sign on what their purpose may be...  or they are too fearful to act when life spits up on their shoes.

as adventurous and open as i am, i've been terrified of not living courageously.  terrified of not having the strength to dive into doing more of what i love.  terrified of worrying about what others think.  terrified of having others limit the opportunities i've imagined for myself.  terrified that my ideas weren't big enough, grand enough, or wouldn't lead me to mountain-top views.

i think i've been harder on myself these past fourteen months than i ever have before.  but i've learned a few things:  firstly, there is this in-between space in the life of a twenty-something-year-old that includes the desk job, the unwanted commitments, limited time, and deciding between comfort and courageous living.  and secondly, my fear of not living courageous living had created in me a person actually filled with terror and fear;  someone who had locked herself in habit, in routine, in complacency, in comfort.  i realized that the time i've spent over-thinking, waiting, and planning out ways to be more courageous turned out to be the very things preventing me from doing just that.  after all, no one holds the power to limit you but you.

but i've also learned about control, about holding loosely onto norms and conventions, about ignoring tangible decisions to dream about doing the unexpected, about contemplating the possibility of those things impossible, about over-anticipating and over-expanding, about the difference between what i truly love to do and what i love to tell people i do.

so i'm trying to re-discover what it means to live courageously...  that it's not necessarily defined by those mountain-top moments and life altering decisions, but by taking two steps to the side, by finding pleasure in small things, the little moments that encourage me to rest, to breathe, to be still.  moments like these:  randomly making breakfast for a friend, exploring a place i've never explored, reading something i'd normally ignore,  climbing something i've never climbed before, coordinating a road trip, getting to know a stranger, even new relationships.

life's narrative is a tricky one.  it's harsh and chaotic, sometimes uneventful, or even too eventful, perplexing and endlessly challenging, complex, tangled, uncanny.  indeed, life is full of unpredictable things, foreign things, messy things;  we are chicaned into believing that the settlement of less is more and comfort is something to welcome with open arms, though i've come to find it brings a sort of limitation that keeps me tossing and turning at night.

if we spend our time defining our lives by the big things, where's the courage in that?  indeed, life is easier to understand in big, life altering patterns, but there is much to learn by understanding the simple things, the little memories and the small deeds of ordinary people that create the opportunity to pause, to think, to be in that very moment and to be content with yourself exactly where you are.  to accept yourself, value yourself and the person you are now:  that is living courageous.

the universe has a plan, and that plan is always in motion.  stars move, the seasons change, a butterfly flaps its wings and it starts to rain.  it's a scary thought, but it's also kind of wonderful...   all these little parts of the machine constantly working to make sure you end up exactly where you're suppose to be when you're suppose to be there.  living courageously is not about those big moments or grand life decisions of making a major move or quitting a job; it's about each individual piece of the puzzle because when they slowly start to come together, the picture of your life becomes fuller, more beautiful, more intricate, more complete.

so that's what i intend to do.  i intend to take each day as it comes, challenging myself not in big ways, but in the little ones.  to pray more, try something new, create something, read more, write more;  to witness the movement of the stars, the changing of the seasons, the wings of a butterfly and each time it rains.  and every morning when i step out the front door, these little pieces constantly work with fate to make sure i end up exactly where i'm suppose to be when i am suppose to be there.