Saturday, August 3, 2013

What is Brave?

You must be so brave, she told me.

This, I suppose, because I am living here in the middle east, on my own with four young kids.

That's supposed to qualify as brave, I guess.

The thing is, though, I'm not brave at all.

I'm afraid of so many things: lightning, and talking to strangers, and driving down narrow windy roads, and making a fool of myself.

Yes, I'm here, but I'm not always here, in the middle of things. You'll find me most often at home, in front of my computer or reading a book. Not exploring the little shops downtown, or searching out some odd archeological site, or hiking a barely marked trail. Sometimes I wish I were one to do all of those things without a second thought, but I can only stretch my skin so far before it tears, you know?

Overseas, I tend to seek out the ordinary, the comforting. I try to find the things that make sense to me - the produce aisle in the grocery store, weirdly enough, offers a strange sort of comfort these days, because I've been here long enough to recognize the rhythm of the seasons by the produce on offer. Cherries are disappearing, sadly, but when the first figs of the season appeared in their place, I smiled a big smile, thinking of last summer's fig season and feeling oddly at home. Because of figs.  I know: that's just plain weird.

So, no. I'm not particularly brave. From the outside, I suppose my life looks brave enough to someone who hasn't tried it. But being brave isn't about moving far from home. Being brave is about standing up for others, or speaking your mind when you know what you have to say isn't popular. Being brave is about trying to do something even when you're pretty sure you'll probably fail. It's writing the book. It's inviting the neighbors over. It's sitting at a table in the lunchroom with strangers, hoping they might become friends. It's asking for help when you need it. It's doing the right thing even when it hurts to do it.

All of that, to me: that's bravery. Not this. Never this.

And by that measure, I'm far from brave.

But I'm trying.


Quirky Momma said... [Reply]

I would love to pick your brain about what life working for the state department is like. My husband recently applied for a position there -can I email you some questions?

Rachel . Quirkymomma @ gmail . Com

Betsy said... [Reply]

Thinking about you and your family this week.

Please. Write your own stuff.