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  • Elle Zee

On Courage

I literally had to phone-a-friend (well text-a-friend because, millennials) to conjure a blog topic this month. The conversation went like this (excuse the typos):

Insert audible "ughhh" here.

I also have a commitment to trust the process and take what comes - maybe I can consider this my first act of courage. Stay open, stay willing, see what happens.

My life has taken quite a few unexpected turns of late, and whose life hasn't of late? Look at our world - full of surprises. What I've loved witnessing most is how ingenious people have been in responding to global changes.

My current state of affairs don't have much to do with the pandemic directly. Yet, ingenuity and courage have certainly been skills and aspects of my personality I'm grateful to have cultivated. I do consider these traits, and most traits, to be skills that one can develop.

I've worked a lot on courage. So much that I actually don't want to do it anymore. I am a brave person, but sometimes being brave sucks. It just sucks. Sometimes it sucks to be the person that's always standing up, always doing the work, always being the adult that can respond appropriately.

Actually, it's scary.

It's scary because you still need to face all the fears that require courage for transmutation. Scary, because, generally you don't know what's on the other side of courage. Scary, because courage often has frustrating side effects - relationships may be lost, physical and emotional energy depleted, belief systems totally overturned. Temporarily, all of this sucks.

Yet, I don't think I can ever recall I time I've regretted being courageous. For all the times I've tried and failed, I've come away saying, "At least you were brave, and you should be proud of that."

A few weeks ago I started a graduate program for Music Therapy - one I've been looking forward to for quite some time. I've met a community of people I felt almost instantly connected to - something I've not felt in a long time. I generally take awhile to warm up to people and yet I felt safe enough in this community to be vulnerable, to share, to challenge myself - I couldn't have asked for more.

Many of my students come to me thinking they can't sing, they can't play, they can't write, they'll never be "good at music," they can't "do it right". They're nervous to make music with me. My first and most fundamental job, one I'm always considering, is creating an environment for my students and the music to thrive. I work to create a ground on which, little by little, my students can adopt courageous attitudes and prove to themselves they can do it. "Doing it right" means nothing more than enjoying doing it. But letting yourself enjoy your own experience can take courage. It takes a willingness to believe you're worth enjoying. If music can teach that, and in my experience, it can, what greater gift can I give?

Sometimes life will require an abundance of courage. Sometimes you can be courageous in small bits. Sometimes courage is letting other people be brave for you. Sometimes it's doing nothing.

We think of courage as belonging to folklore - to knights, to heroes - or to celebrated humanitarians. We don't have to tackle all the problems of the world, not all of us. But we can still learn courage in small bits so that when life does call for it in abundance, we've already proven to ourselves we possess it.

What's something brave you've done recently? What's something brave you can do today? Let me know in the comments.


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