Of Courage and Selkies

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For each of us, there is something we dread to face.  Something impossibly horrible.  Sometimes that thing is short, over in a flash, and gone.  Other times it drags on, for weeks, years, and each day when you wake, your first thought is that it is still there.  It is not easy to face our fears for a day, but it is far more difficult to live with them.  Where is the courage to face a life in which every familiar thought bears the face of terror?

Stories make it sound easy, even exciting.  They can give no sense of the burden of time.  The moments bereft of hope which stretch on and on.  The thoughts that come unbidden to stifle every smile.  There is no one-time act of courage which can pull you through.  It keeps returning, and like some ancient monster, seems to grow stronger with each blow you deal it.  Where is the courage to face a life in which every familiar thought bears the face of terror?

Even at the worst of times, one can be distracted.  One can escape, lose oneself, in the thoughts of another.  One can even laugh.  The laughs are tasteless.  Utterly disconnected with who you are.  Stolen from another person’s life.  Where is the courage to face a life in which every familiar thought bears the face of terror?

There is a beauty in acceptance, like a cold, grey, dawn.  When one realizes that there is no where else to run.  One steps out of the dark corner and says to one’s fear: “Yes, you belong to me, and I will live with you because I must.” Then one can see, that there was never any other way.  That is where courage is born.  The courage to resist hiding, day after day, to keep looking your fear in the face.

Courage is artificial.  Something put on, like a costume.  But like the selkie’s skin, once donned, it becomes a part of you.  Put a good face on life, and it may even smile at you.

~Jane