Wednesday, May 29 2013
What is courage?
We all know the standard definitions of courage, particularly of the “under fire” variety. I don’t honestly believe anyone knows what they’d do in a situation like that–the diving-on-a-grenade-to-save-the-squad kind of thing–until they’re in it. But that’s just one type of valor. There are less dramatic though equally overt examples, too, like standing up to a bully or uncovering government corruption. We don’t often have our dignity and resolve tested in ways like this, which is why the stories of those who do and who pass the test strike such a chord within us. But most of us never encounter moments with so much on the line. There aren’t a lot of superheroes for a reason.
But there’s another type of courage, and I submit that it’s a million times more valuable because the need for it arises regularly for all of us…and it is no less a pass/fail exercise than smothering a grenade to save your friends.
I’m talking about the courage to make monumental decisions in order to have a better life.
Every decision we make comes with it’s share of consequences. Picking between glazed and Boston creme obviously isn’t as life-changing as choosing a free-range egg over something you dunk in your coffee, but even the seemingly small choices carry their own upsides and downsides, especially over the longer term. It takes a certain degree of courage to turn left into the natural foods store instead of right into the fast food drive-thru lane. This kind of daily courage is far-ranging in its impact and almost always is responsible for the quality of life we have throughout our years on this planet. Standing in front of a tank takes bravery that cannot be quantified, but it’s no more important than standing up to the onslaught of advertising that makes your favorite sandwich cookie seem so appealing…and the consequences in your life and the life of your loved ones are much greater, truth be told.
There’s a “mid-range” kind of courage that I really want to talk about today, though. The type of situation I want you to think about now is the one that carries true risk, but also brings with it the possibility of incredible reward. I could spell out a few specific circumstances, but you’re smart enough to draw the picture I want you to visualize from the story I’m about to relate. Once that picture is firmly in your mind, I’ll ask that you apply it to a situation in your own life that is demanding a similar decision right now.
So here’s my story of courage. It’s a recent decision I’ve made, the effects of which are still not certain and not easy to quantify. It illustrates my point nicely, though.
In early April I was working a job that I hated. My hours were screwy, taking away not only the time that I was at work but also the time away from work that I ordinarily would spend with my daughter (shift work does that to a person). This job saved my life, in many ways; it’s the one I took immediately after my attempted suicide, when I was at rock-bottom financially and had just watched my fiance and young step-son walk out of my life. Bills still have to be paid, no matter what sad events enter your life. Mine were no exception. This job provided me with a meager income, and gave me something to do with myself while I recovered from the agony of losing so much. In that regard I was grateful to have it, but it was the same job I had worked at age nineteen, and at about the same rate of pay. Teenagers were bagging fries and making more money. I’m a full-grown man who has made and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just-above-minimum-wage wasn’t going to work for me for very long.
I had spent almost ten months in this going-nowhere position and was becoming increasingly dissatisfied. To make matters worse, I was falling further and further behind on my financial obligations. I earned enough to pay Peter, Paul and Matthew…so long as only two of them at a time asked for money. Unfortunately all three demanded a check at the end of each month, and I simply wasn’t in a position to oblige. In this type of situation, paying bills becomes a house of cards strategy; eventually everything is behind and the whole thing falls apart. As April approached, this is the chasm I was staring into.
Having lost everything, so to speak, has it’s advantages. Right now I am the only person who is affected by decisions I make. If I wind up homeless, my loved ones won’t be directly impacted by the situation. It’s true that I have the obligations of fatherhood, but my daughter’s mother does well enough financially that some time can pass without monetary contribution on my part and my daughter will be just fine. It isn’t an ideal situation, but for a man who had worked his way to the very bottom of life and was at pure zero less than a year ago, any move is a move upward. People who know me understand that it’s only a matter of time; I will be on top of things again, and when I am I’ll make up for the shortfall in spades.
Let me interject here that I am grateful for those, my ex-wife in particular, who have enabled me to rebuild my life and reach the point where I could take the risk I’m about to describe. I also realize that I’m fortunate to be in such a position where if I fail, it is only I who hits the skids. There’s a freedom in that which allows risks others may have to think seriously about before undertaking them. I’m cognizant and appreciative of this fact.
So I’m at my dead-end job, falling behind every day, but at least I’m earning a little bit of something. My books have begun to sell, and I’m working the Magic with every moment. December brought a noticeable boost, and I’d doubled that output with each successive month up to this point. The combination of my job income and the income from the books is, at the first of April, probably enough to pay all of my bills. If it remained at that level, I couldn’t really have a “life”, and certainly not the life I desire. I could probably get caught up over time, and this would be a good thing–but I’d still be dissatisfied, unable to enjoy time with my kid, and basically broke.
Some people reading this will say that an intelligent man sticks with the job and lets the book income grow over time. They’ll say that the smart move is to stay with the sure thing while the speculative thing takes root. They’ll know for certain that’s the right thing to do.
Mr. Spock would be proud of those people. Logic says they’re right.
But I’ve got entirely too much Captain Kirk in me.
I tendered my resignation in the last days of March, effective the second week of April. It wasn’t an easy decision. I truly had to talk myself into it. At the time the income from the books amounted to approximately one-third what I was making at the hotel where I worked. It’s true that figure was doubling every month, but double one-third is still only two-thirds of an already-insufficient income, and there was no guarantee that trend was even going to continue. I was choosing to cast my paper boat upon the river in hopes that I could accumulate enough wood to build it stronger before I reached the open sea.
Homelessness was, and still is, a very real possibility for me.
BUT…I believe every word of the blurb for a certain book I’m familiar with. I know, with certainty, everything it says is true. I know that book inside and out, and I know that by practicing the steps outlined within it, I will have what I want, not what I don’t want. Here’s the blurb I’m talking about:
There is magic at work each day creating everything we see around us. What would you do with the power to take control of this magic and bend it to your will?
This short guidebook will explain Universal Magic–what it is, what it does and how it works in your life whether you know it or not. What’s more, it gives you step-by-step instructions for how to make the Magic work exactly as you demand!
Author Joss Conlon shows you how to utilize the power of manifestation, taking control of Universal Magic to help you find happiness, create wealth, and make the life of your dreams a reality. Mr. Conlon’s method requires no religious practices, no special training, no new-age silliness and no old-school rituals. It is easy to learn and master, takes only minutes to execute and applies with equal success to everyone who follows the method described and the principles behind it.
After reading this short guidebook you will be on your way to living the life you’ve always wanted, and making the world work exactly as you demand. For the price of a candy bar you can have your own personal Genie, your own Ring of Power, your own wizard’s wand!
Easy to learn and available to everyone, the power of Universal Magic can bring your every desire to fruition. Take charge of it TODAY!
I chose to take what many people would consider “a gamble”. I chose to risk a form of security in order to have a life. Is this a form of courage? Of course it is. But in my heart I knew then, and know now, something that the smart people may not–and that is that there was no risk to it. My choice wasn’t a gamble at all.
I knew the outcome before I ever made the decision. The courage was in acting on my conviction, not in the act itself.
Two months have passed since I submitted that resignation. What has the result been?
As I mentioned, I can’t quantify it precisely…not yet. The smart people would say “it’s too early to tell”. Spock would be punching the buttons on a calculator as we speak.
My finger is on the button that activates the Warp Drive.
What I can tell you is this; when I left my job I calculated what I earned, minus what it cost me to earn it, and divided that into a “this much per day” figure. I had to earn “this much per day” to replace the hotel income.
Next, I added how much I was making at that time from the sale of my books, doing the same thing…”this much per day”. Together those figures represent a hard number that I have to make, every day of the year, for the decision to be the “right” one. In order to equal or surpass that figure, I knew I would have to spend the time I would otherwise have been working at the hotel in an effort to increase the income from my writing. So that’s what I did.
May is coming to a close. As of this moment I am currently earning $7.59 per day more than what I needed to replace everything I was making on the day I rolled the dice.
Am I getting rich? Nope. Not yet. But I will spend this weekend playing with my little girl instead of sleeping through the beautiful summer days. I will wake up tomorrow and add another chapter to my latest book. In August I will go on vacation for the first time in more years than I can count. And while Peter, Paul and Matthew are all still knocking on my door, they have–for the first time ever in my life–absolutely nothing to worry about. They’ll get paid. Soon, they’ll get paid on time. In a matter of months, they’ll get paid automatically. I might even add Luke and John to the list of folks who get a check from me every month. I can do that now, because I had the courage to commit to living, rather than just getting by.
I demanded it from the Universe, and the Universe complied. I’m grateful to those who allowed me the time to climb that mountain, and to all of those who gave me a leg up when I needed it. I appreciate every dollar I’ve earned, every reader who has bought one of my books, and every moment I have now to do what I am called to do with my life.
I urge you to look closely at your life and see where you, too, can find the courage to make a necessary change. I ask that you weigh the circumstances carefully, but ultimately that you make the decision to have a life, not an existence.
Let Mr. Spock speak, but remember that Kirk is Captain for a reason.
Trust in the Universe and your ability to control it. If you’re not sure how, I know of a book that might help you. The techniques described therein have made all the difference in my life.