Two words you don’t see thrown together as equals much are courage and peace.
“Coraggio,” what my violin teacher in college implored me to have before an audition, is what you need to conjure in order to face a daunting task. Peace is that elusive component of life that is only a little more attainable than its sister condition, joy (which a lot of depressives and goths will say they never even heard of).
But if you consider those moments when you have to throw caution to the wind and go after what speaks to you in this life — or simply speak your mind — no matter the outcome, you should be able to find peace.
We tend to think of courage somehow as active and peace as stillness. But even when flagrantly exhibited by the image of, say, fighting off a lion — no matter how physical, how external to the body, how far a projection the sheer audacious grasp — having inner courage is what’s behind outward bold acts. It is something that brings deep personal satisfaction. It becomes peace.
I got to thinking about the interplay of these two words, and again about “gentle strength,” (something I’ve written about here before) after I saw a print ad quoting MSNBC All In host Chris Hayes:
“Whether it’s Rosa Parks on a bus or a striking worker on a picket line, the moments that have given birth to the greatest progress are when people found the inner courage and peace to look power in the eye and say ‘No.’”
Like the “gentle strength” of the Sioux woman carrying a heavy burden of wood on her shoulders, activists through the ages have found deep satisfaction by acting on their convictions of equality and freedom. As the martial artist who knows stillness of soul in the fight, those in physical and emotional distress can proudly fight battles.
And as anyone struggling in their career can find, going after a genuine life and speaking your unique voice can bring peace with yourself, no matter the outcome.
So if you are looking for a life that resonates as true, you can not be afraid to be yourself. You can not be timid and withdraw. If you have something to say, speak it. When others need to be challenged, do it. Especially if what you have to say is for the good of many beyond yourself.
You do not have to clip your myriad interests in fear of rejection, nor mince your words if harsh statements need to be stated and wrongs need to be countered.
You do not have to worry about being defined by others. If you have inner courage and follow all of your convictions, you will define yourself and your life, and this will bring peace at its most powerful.
Artwork courtesy of Jan Vojta