“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.” Veronica Roth, Allegiant
It’s a regular weeknight, in a rather boring time of the year. Doesn’t even matter right now what season it is. Doesn’t even matter whose story this is. It could be mine, it could be yours.
Tonight, the light in the room embodies a soft and warm embrace, flickering in shapes and figures, beautifully projected on the ceiling. I anxiously turn around and around, in spite of all the silence that succumbs into the little universe made of slightly uncomfortable pillows and the annoying little lints on the mattress. The puffy blanket keeps my body warm. Maybe too warm now. I take it off, but realize it’s a tad colder than I want it to be. I put it back on, looking for its untouched, chillier corners, and snuggle-snuggle like it’s the best thing of the night.
Oh, here’s a cracking smile of comfort. Finally. I was wondering…
The noise in my head suddenly interrupts the sound of stillness. Thoughts line up like soldiers in a field, before going to battle. They await their sign to break off. Fears, hopes, dreams, contradictions, challenges, they all become alive in my mind, ready to be confronted. I can’t stand these pillows. How can I sleep well when they’re so lifeless?
It’s not the most comfortable thing to do… touching the pain, dealing with this horrid sense of unworthiness and lack of belonging. I dream to do so many things and go to so many places, but I feel stuck, for some reason. I want adventure, but I’m kind of… numb. I want to make people feel like they belong, but I forget to include myself. I give love to others, until there’s very little left for me.
It feels like I’ve lost a little bit of that defining spark, letting myself dive into a state of constant self-criticism and blame. An inner conflict arises and it escalates quite quickly. Where’s that optimistic person that could laugh it all off and just go on with her life? Everything is so serious now. Damn, seems like I’ve changed. I feel bitter. I can’t be bitter.
Who is this person sleeping in my bed, breathing on my white cotton sheets? These are my favorite sheets. “Hey, you can’t bring that ugly attitude in this bed. And why are your tears staining my dreaming space? Is this the best you could do? Is this the best version of you? I don’t want to be hard on you, but this sucks. This guilt, this shame, this stupid hopelessness. Ugh. Get up! Get up! Get up right now!”
So I get up.
I breathe like I’ve found my breath again. I cry my eyes out. A choking sounding noise comes out of my throat as I breathe and cry. It feels like… life?!
Something, somehow, has awaken me. I am alive, I am alive. I realize I am truly alive and breathing and feeling and becoming more and more conscious about everything surrounding me and being me. My body’s temperature rises and lowers and rises again, I don’t know exactly what’s going on.
My cold palms are facing the cinematically lighted ceiling, laying my watery eyes in them – I smile. And oh my goodness, do I smile! I start laughing. It’s a nervous laughter, that’s true, but still… a laughter. I actually feel a little freedom in that laughter. “Hey, hello again.”, I hear. Heart beats explosively inside my chest and the vein that crosses my forehead is pumping life into my being. All that love… all that hope… all that patience… How more blessed could I be? I fully understand now how blessed I am that I can have a life full of all that!
When have I become so reckless with my heart? The love that I keep feeling and giving, even (or especially) when it doesn’t come back, it’s something of the most noble human traits. Why should I ever feel anything less than Love? Why should I judge my heart so miserably when it’s the best treasure keeper there is in this world? Well, at least in my world.
When did all this quest for certainty and confirmation become such a defining force in our lives? Why are we letting ourselves be so fearful all the time? Fuck all this fear. I will turn my most vulnerable parts into gold, pure gold, for I want to be brave. I want this force of Love to be the only fuel that runs my gears. I want to fill my heart with kindness, my mind with wisdom and patience, my body with healthy energy and my world with good things and great people. I want this to be my story of becoming brave.
A big part of my life I have believed that the real brave people were the very few who did something extraordinary for the world, those who have won historical battles, those who have stood up against systems and fought for justice. Basically, I thought that bravery was something that came out of dangerous endeavors, like extreme sports, going into space or fighting wars.
We have grown up with fairy tales of fictional heroes and superheroes that battled dragons and monsters. We needed that analogy too, for sure. But now we need to see more of the daily doses of heroism around us. Thankfully, the fact is that bravery is no longer attached to the selected few. The concept slowly changes the status quo of what’s considered and celebrated as brave. The stories we hear and read about nowadays prove that things have shifted into a more conscious collective spirit, where courage lies into the smallest acts of Love and Kindness.
Being brave is going through this life journey, along with all these things – good and bad -, sitting down with them from time to time, or face to face with ourselves, to see what choices we should make next, what changes we should embrace about ourselves and deal with all the pain that might still exist.
It happens so often that people who lead rather regular lives (whatever that means), worrying about their day-to-day living and their own kind of survival, tend to distance themselves from the possibility and even from the simple thought of doing something – or being – extraordinary. They see themselves as… ordinary, they see themselves as “just like any other” and they most likely do not see that their little everyday struggles and their “little victories” are actually various acts of bravery, especially in a world that tells them they’re not good enough, that constantly shows them exaggerated definitions of success.
So we are now looking at moms all over the world who fight for a better tomorrow for their children, we see women who fight against social & gender inequalities, we are looking at people in different communities who fight for their human rights. We are looking at children who seek redemption all throughout their lives, up into their adulthood, healing from all sorts of abandonment and/or violence. We are looking at every single person who battles survival in a world of hatred and bullying with so much love and inner strength that could put a new sun on the sky.
Let us pay attention to these everyday braves.
Maybe sitting in a bed covered in white cotton sheets and crying out loud until light breaks out doesn’t make one a hero or a savior of the world. But it surely does make one brave. Brave enough to face their truth, to risk everything in the name of Love, unconditional of the outside world or of the people who say “you’re wrong”, “this is not going to work”, “that’s fuckin’ lame”.
Maybe those tireless moms, strong women-fighters, unshakeable super-humans or courageous kids-turned-adults look at similar cinematic lights that flare on their ceilings before their sleep, bursting into revelations and reminding them of their own spark.
We do create our own journey, you know. It’s us who choose the elements that make our story ours. Most of the times, it takes a lot of pain and endurance. But damn, it is worth it.
That is what I know now, as I vividly wipe the tears from my eyes and turn off the flickering lights in the room. I stare a little bit more at the ceiling and it’s the most luminous darkness I have ever seen in a long time. I suddenly remember the energy I got when I touched the peak of a mountain for the first time. Wow. What a feeling!
And tonight, I have found freedom in my heart. It has been right there, all this while.