Ease Into Courage

There have been two things I’ve thought about a lot today. They’re kind of related, but interestingly, they came from two different places–in a matter of about an hour.

My mind hasn’t been able to stray too far from either of them and they’re both important.

They intersect at a point I hadn’t realized until I started putting fingers to keys… (Funny how writing–at least for me–always seems to bring things into perspective…)

The first: what would life look like if it were easy for you?

I subscribed to the #AsktheQuestion newsletter from Ms. Laura Jane Williams after a work friend recommended it via Twitter. When I clicked, read the description, and subscribed, I hadn’t thought that I would sit on Sunday mornings, anxiously and excitedly awaiting an email ever at any point in my life. But, now that’s what my Sundays look like.

This morning I was pleasantly surprised as I awoke to find today’s edition, talking about things (read as: life, etc.) being “easy” for people.

In essence, the essay closed with the, seemingly simple, question: What would life look like if it were easy for you?

I thought about it. Tried to digest it. Mulled it over. I tried to go on with my morning, but it stuck there.

I thought about it a lot as my wife drove us to our yoga studio this morning. I thought about it a lot as I waited for my vinyasa class to start.

I thought about it a lot as we strolled around Target and as I stood in the middle of the store holding a bunch of random items as she went to find something.

When my brain wasn’t preoccupied with other things like work or my yoga schedule for the week or trying to get my body to contort itself into lizard or tree pose, it was there, wondering what things would be like if they were actually “easy.”

My life, while when I was younger might have seemed easy to some, isn’t easy now. Sure, it’s not has hard as some others (I will openly admit that I have some white privilege), but it’s not easy–by any stretch of the imagination. I struggle. A lot.

If my life were easy, I wouldn’t have to worry about being the “fat girl” in my yoga class.

If my life were easy, I could wear whatever I wanted and feel happy.

If my life were easy, I wouldn’t have to worry about my marriage being legal tomorrow.

If my life were easy, I wouldn’t have to worry about what pronouns I use for my wife, actually using the term “wife” instead of “spouse” or wondering if the one person I decide to come out to today is going to be the one to end up attacking me for being gay.

If my life were easy, I wouldn’t need pharmaceuticals to keep me a functional member of society. I wouldn’t have ended up spending four days in a mental institution. I wouldn’t have wanted to die.

If my life were easy, I would’ve been able to learn to drive like all my classmates, instead of facing crippling anxiety every time I even think about getting behind the wheel of a car. 

If my life were easy… so many things would be different.

But then, the more I think about it, the more I realize having life be easy would take the most important pieces out. The pieces that teach us the most and the pieces that help us grow. The pieces that sometimes seem to bring us to our knees, but the pieces that help us get back up again.

This brings me to the second point of the day. The other thing I’ve been thinking through.

In my yoga class this morning, the instructor (one of my favorites), asked us all a question as we set our intention for our practices today. (Fun fact: My intention for any and all yoga classes is usually a single word–survival–but that’s a post for another day.)

Her question: What does courage look like to you?

For me, courage looks like a lot of different things–especially given the way things are right now.

Right now, courage looks like using the correct pronouns for my wife. Courage looks like being able to openly say that I’m married to a woman. Courage looks like standing up for my faith when so many Christians now are denouncing many of the values that I uphold–or interpreting the Bible in ways that go against the values I have and believe in. Courage means being open about my mental illness. Courage means making that appointment with a new therapist. Courage means waking up and living my life.

I’m not trying to make an extraordinarily bold statement. I’m not trying to say that I’m any better than anyone else just because I was able to get out of bed and live today. But, for me, that’s hard sometimes. There are times where things get ugly and living is the hardest thing there is to do–let alone actually trying to be a functional member of society and actually do things like go to work or go to the grocery store.

Right now, all I can do is remember that courage for me is going to be different than courage for other people. And easing into that thought is all I can do for today.

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