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Courage To Be: A Moment With Bill Reflection
Facing Serious Challenges
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
Knowing you are licked before you begin and yet following the course to the very end….how well does that describe a writer?
Somewhere there is a little girl. Every night before she goes to bed, she pulls the tablet from underneath her bed, and she curls up under the covers, and she writes fanciful stories of enchanted worlds where love reigns supreme. She finishes her story and then closes her eyes and dreams of being a famous author one day.
In the light of day her dream is, of course, only a dream. Reality follows her through the years, and the voices of detractors echo in her head, and she convinces herself that she could never be a writer.
Still she tries on occasion, and once she even sends a story to a magazine only to be ignored or rejected, and the dreams of that little girl curl up under the covers of her life and fade away in the darkness.
We may not be licked when we begin our writing journey, but the odds are, at the very least, enormous. If we are lucky enough to have loved ones who support our efforts, we are still faced with the seemingly endless hours of solitude as we work our craft in relative obscurity. We may be the “author” in our own home, but in the world we are just one of millions who get up each day, write a few thousand words, and go to bed with nothing to show for the effort.
Make no mistake about it: it takes courage to be a writer.
Somewhere There Is a Young Woman
She rises at dawn each day and prepares the lunches for her two small children. Her husband is gone, never to return, and she is left with the kids, the mortgage, the pile of other bills and the sense of hopelessness.
But still, her kids need her, so off she goes to the first of two jobs, the same today as yesterday and the same as a year in the future. Waiting tables during the day; cleaning offices in the evening. Thank God for mom and dad and their willingness to watch the children or she doesn’t know what she would do.
What would a warm bath feel like? What would it feel like to be held and given some reassurance? What in the hell would it feel like to go to bed not terrified of the next day, and yet too damn tired to care one way or another what is going to happen?
What happened to the dreams? What happened to the hope? All traded in for the price of a bullet in some foreign land, a footnote in history not worth mentioning except when the kids want to see pictures so they won’t forget what daddy looked like.
Telling your son and daughter of hopes and dreams and unlimited possibilities, all the while taking another step down that dead end road of life.
Make no mistake about it: it takes courage to be a single parent.
Weep Not for Me
Somewhere there is an old man. He rolls his wheelchair to the park daily to feed the pigeons and then off to the street corner, sign in hand. Help me, I’m homeless, the sign declares, and truer words were never written.
Forty-two years after the wound that cost him a leg and an arm; forty-one years after the related disease that almost cost him his life as he once knew it, he holds his head high and daydreams of running free in a field of lavender, his dead wife by his side. They smiled so in those days, two young lovers without a care in the world, making plans for a future that had no restraints.
Hold the sign up high and smile at the people. Tuck away the bitterness cuz there are no dividends in that investment. You have to take what comes, the good and the bad, and keep moving forward….always forward. There are no promises in this life; no guarantees and no bargains. There is only today, and what can be gained, and hopefully come out of it all with your dignity.
Make no mistake about it: it takes courage to be a homeless veteran.
Something to think about
- The Human Experience: Everyday Heroes
Heroes are among us in every walk of life. With quiet determination they make us all better people through their living examples.
This Prison Ain’t Got No Walls
You breathe through a tube that is taped to your lips, the constant hum of that life-giving machine always serenading you during your waking moments. Mobility is defined by the availability of someone to push your chair around, and if you are having a really fine day you will be able to sit in the garden while the sunshine reminds you of better days.
Better days of laughing, running, eating solid foods and yes, breathing on your own.
You look out the window and see it approaching. At first it is a subtle shift in color, a shadow within the shadows, but as it gets closer it takes on definition, size, shape, until it stands before you, your hated, and loved, companion…..regret.
If only I hadn’t been drinking that night…if only I hadn’t driven home….if only I had stopped at that stop sign….if only….if only…..if only they would have let me die.
How can a man be alive when he is dependent upon others to eat and breathe? How can a man be alive when he cannot even end his own life?
I want to die! I want to live!
Make no mistake about it: it takes courage to be severely handicapped.
They Are All Around Us
This living gig is not easy for most. Oh sure, there are those born with a silver spoon in their mouths, skipping through life seemingly without a care in the world, untouched by the mundane business of just breathing in and breathing out. For those few, struggle is only a word found in Websters.
For the majority, though, struggle is an everyday fact of life. Putting one foot in front of the other, and somehow finding the courage to continue, those are the acts that dominate any given day. Summoning determination in the face of overwhelming odds, and refusing to surrender when every fiber of their being screams to raise the damn white flag, those are acts of true bravery.
The soldier dons his pack and heads out, not knowing when the next bullet will have his name on it. The fireman answers the bell, not knowing if today the bells tolls for him. The dead end struggler working a dead end job in a dead end life, nevertheless gets up each day, pushing forward towards a future that is best described as questionable and at worst hopeless; these cases may not be the stuff of legends but they are the stuff of the human condition.
“To strive, to seek to find and not to yield”….the words of Tennyson ring true for many in this world of seven billion. You may know one; hell, you may be one. I would submit to you that for most, it is not a matter of finding greener grass on the other side, but rather in hoping that there is any sign of grass at all, and battling the suspicion that the grass is long gone never to return.
And still they move forward!
Some final thoughts
- Loneliness : Marco....Polo....Can Anybody Hear Me?
People need to know that they are being heard, that they are not alone, that their lives have meaning.
Words of a Father
His words echo in my brain still today, forty-four years after his death. “Bill, always move forward. Never retreat. No matter how tough things get, end your day with the knowledge that you did not give up and you gained ground.”
My dad…..profound words to tell a ten year old, and in truth those words meant little to me during my teen years, but their meaning slammed me alongside the head later in life. I remembered them then, and I called on them for inspiration, and I held onto them as a drowning man grasps a floating piece of flotsam….always move forward!
When you know you are licked but you see it through anyway….yes indeed my friends…the perfect definition of courage, and God bless those of you who live it daily.
No, this living gig is not easy for most. There will be times when most of us are knocked down to our knees, when the darkness spreads its wings, swoops in and darkens our very soul. Those are the times when we toss of the chains of mere mortality and we rise above it all and we scream at the top of our lungs…..I AM ALIVE AND I WILL NOT GIVE UP!
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”