In September I had the honor of driving my second born to Nottingham (England) for the start of her second year of University.
She is an artistic soul and is studying Textiles and Design there. I say honour because I really enjoy road trips with my children, as it seems to make them chatty.
Whether it is the sheer nervousness caused by being trapped in the car with their mother for several hours at a time, or just the luxury of having me to themselves (we have 5 children), I am unsure.
I suspect the motive changes depending on what has been going on in our lives. I am choosing to believe it is the latter reason, maybe I am deluded!
As we drove, the conversation turned to the subject of fear and courage.
I think it was because I was telling her, how much she inspired me to be brave. She is crazy, extroverted and outgoing, she has life well and truly in a choke-hold.
She is President of her CU (Christian Union), and has many friends from all walks of life.
She is comfortable on the dance floor busting insane dance moves, as she is handing out toast to nightclub goers as part of student outreach, as she is helping out in children’s ministry, as she is having empathetic chats with a friend. She is at home in her own skin.
Or at least always appears to be.
During our chat, I had admitted an observation I had made about her.
That it didn’t matter how well she did something, if she did it with conviction and courage, she always carried it off with flair.
Simply put, it wasn’t so much about whether she was doing it right, it was the belief in herself that carried her, not her skill.
She turned to me with a sparkle in her eyes and quoted Benjamin Mee, of ‘We Bought a Zoo’ fame.
This is her mantra, she told me.
That it’s often not about the big picture, but about what happens in that 20 seconds of bravery.
That is the do or die moment of life, that window.
Do I act? Or do I stand still?
She still feels scared and anxious like the rest of us, but she has made the decision to overcome it, and commit to 20 seconds.
Sometimes the greatness that comes from these 20 seconds is not monumental in the eyes of the world. Sometimes they are little things.
The laughter it brings to another, the smile behind a tear stained face or the act of kindness that eventuates because we dare for those few seconds. It resounds somehow in the world around us.
I liked this. It reminded me of that old proverb.
How do you eat an Elephant?
One bite at a time!
She has inspired me to commit to the twenty seconds I am in doubt about. The big picture will follow, the elephant (poor ole Nellie) will be eaten, by taking small resolute steps towards bravery and courage.
I will start to win in those areas of my life that frighten me, by seeing that moment as a series of 20 seconds of insane courage and embarrassing bravery, not as a mountain that needs to be conquered.