Tag Archives: courage

“Twenty seconds of insane courage”

Back in 2015 I wrote this piece on exploring the concept of courage and bravery in a culture of fear.  It was strange reading it as I was becoming a different person back then.  I’ve grown since and become a lot more sure of myself.

I had taken the title quote so inspirational that it has actually become part of my being.  Back in that year, I was so sick of being scared that I leapt at every chance I was presented with, sometimes the courage paid off, other times…. I hurt people.  

Courage alone is of no use unless it is reflexive to do something in that moment.  Where there and then you can make a difference.  Courage sprung from lying to yourself and impatience is stupid; it ends up with other people being hurt and you being a dick! 

However, courage born from something to make a difference or to put right a situation where inaction and silence will lead to something worse is worth those twenty seconds of crazy! 

Very recently, I dared to ask a complete stranger out for a date. 

I was looking at a food menu through the glass window of a sandwich shop when, in my peripheral vision, a customer walked in then a few moments later stuck her head out of the door telling me to “Come in, it’s lovely!” Invitation by a cute blonde wearing hipster glasses? How could I resist? So I went in and placed my order.  Blonde Hipster Girl turned around and flashed me a smile (she was very cute) and I started conversation by asking if this was her regular place to go.  She told me she used to come here all the time until she got fat.  She wasn’t fat at all, curvy, sure- I love curves on a woman! And so I laughed along with her, thanked her for her advice, collected my order (hers was taking longer to prepare) and went for the bus to get me to work.  It wasn’t until I reached the bus stop and was halfway through eating my sandwich I thought to myself: “You idiot! You should have said ‘Fat? No way, you’re as cute as hell and I want to ask you out for dinner.’  So I kicked myself over that Friday morning encounter as a missed opportunity. 

Over the weekend, I made a plan. 

On Monday I went back. 

With a letter in an envelope labelled “To The Cute Blonde With Glasses.” In it, I explained that I was thankful for her giving me the push to go into the shop, that I wanted to ask her out for a date and that her next meal at the shop was on me (I paid for it in advance) and signed it with my name and mobile number.  This I passed on to the ladies behind the counter.  Job done, and like a spell once cast….. I let it be.  It’ll either work or it won’t. 

She replied the next day! 

Through the medium of Whatsapp, I received a message from the ‘Cute Blonde With Glasses’ kindly explaining she had just started seeing someone.  She also told me the letter was cute and that things like this only ever happened in movies, and I should keep doing what I do as it made her year.  Oh, and that she gave the money back for the lunch I bought her as she felt guilty. 

And you know what?  I was fine with that.  Totally and truly.  It wasn’t the outcome I was hoping, but I knew it would be one of the few that came to mind.  I’m still glad I took the chance and feel the better for it.  What happens now?  Simple, I let it go and should I come across another opportunity, you can be damn sure I’ll give in to those crazy 20 seconds.  It all comes down to the fact if you don’t ask, you don’t know.  Would I rather have left it and wondered what would have happened if I never did something about it?  I’ve wasted far too much of my life making that mistake.

Go out there step out of your comfort zone and do something amazing and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll feel great for daring to take a shot! 

Image from pinterest.com

Here be Dragons…

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Earth Dragon, art by Bill Worthington.

Ah, 2016, I’ve been expecting you.

With all the strong winds we had this winter, I got the feeling that the winds of change had already arrived; eagerly pushing 2015 out of the way as if 2016 couldn’t wait to get here. 

2015 has been a busy year for me.  I got moved store (again) and have even taken steps to help me back on the road of acting.

Comparing to last year’s reading, how did things play out?

Venom: I lost my cat, Loki.  She was my companion, my little girl and my pain in the arse all at once. I had her put down after she was attacked by a Fox as her chances of survival were extremely slim.  Not a day goes by without me thinking of her. 

I broke the heart of my friend and fellow Grove mate, River.  I thought I was ready for a new relationship and after three months, realised I wasn’t.  So I ended it and hurt her badly.  Looking back on it, I see now that was what’s called a ‘rebound’.  We have spoken since and says she has forgiven me.  I wouldn’t say we are the friends we used to be, but at least we are civil now. 
  The venom was my broken heart and the lesson of Adder reversed is to use the poison that harms into one that cures.  Loki’s death reminded me of the savage side of Nature, it was a serious wound that was brought through the cycle of survival.  I think it would have been worse if I found her after getting run over by a car.
  As terrible as breaking up with River was, things happened in motion to change her life for the better, from what she told me, she has discovered Buddhism which has taught her to let go of the past and embrace the future. 
  I learned a lot about myself from this experience and now know who I am, as well as who I don’t want to be.

Honey: The card of Bee represents community, celebration and organisation.  2015 was a very social year for me, I am blessed with many friends wether it is my Grove, my housemate, my workmates, both my social and spiritual circles.  I even left Pagan Pride in an official capacity, in a good place. 
  With the Am Dram group, I bonded really well with my fellow cast and crew in the One-Acts of that summer.  I spent NYE with Cludgie’s family and mutual friends. It was Cludgie who gave me the final push to go for the role I auditioned for and got.  The director had previously asked if I’d be interested in reading for it and I thought of every reason not to.  I’m glad Cludgie talked me round.
 
Three major creative things happened this year too: me, Strider and Dumbledore got together and formed our storytelling group “Tales From the Fireside”, a separate venture from our Grove that was described by one event organiser as “I knew you’d be good, I didn’t expect you to be awesome”.
  The other was joining the Actors Workshop here in Notts.  Making some good friends and progress in my performing skills.
  And filming the Promo of Gallows Bait in Sherwood Forest, dressed as a proper highwayman for two days!

2015 was for me a year of discovery, having courage enough to do what it is I want to actually do (and sowing the seeds for it to happen) and being surrounded by wonderful people, old and new.  I also did a lot of guest speaking this year, touching on new subjects for me as well as revisiting old ones.

Dragons: I was quite hungover on New Year’s Day when I drew the card for 2016 and as soon as I saw what my focus for this year was, I said in my best George Takei voice: ‘Ohhh Myyyyyyy’ Earth Dragon or ‘Draig-Talamh’ is the card of accessing your inner potential, as well as recognising the potential in others. 
Here’s hoping 2016 will be a very productive year!

‘Hear Me Roar’

I have recently come across a break down of ancient Irish law (Brehon) which shows nine ‘virtues’:

*Honour
*Justice
*Loyalty
*Courage
*Community
*Hospitality
*Gentleness
*Wisdom
*Eloquence

I could do a whole post on them, breaking them down further and explore their meanings and definitions, but I’ll do that another time.

Right now, I want to focus on just one of those virtues… Courage.

Have you ever been inspired by a sentance or a phrase? Maybe even just two or three words that seem to shout out to you and give you the kick up the ass needed?

Mine came from a tattoo.

More accurately, it’s a quote from a movie that I read on someone’s arm.

Artemis had a friend round, Sandy, who stayed with us for a couple of days.  We were chatting and seeing the tattoos on her arms, I asked if I could read the words on one of them.  And when I did, it was exactly what I needed to hear…. If reading can be classed as listening.  And here it is:

Picture of Sandy and her tattoo, used with kind permission of Sandy... I owe her pizza for this!
Picture of Sandy and her tattoo, used with kind permission of Sandy… I owe her pizza for this!

Full Quote: “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it. “
Benjamin Mee, ‘We Bought A Zoo’.

Or as Sandy put it: “… to stop being a pussy…

I have never seen the movie, as someone who worries a lot (especially about things that haven’t even happened!), this has stuck with me.  It has become my mantra for 2015.  And it is sooooo true!

We live in an age of fear.  Fear of not being accepted, fear of offending someone, fear of the future, fear of being hurt.  Fear of war, fear of being sued, fear of doing the right thing (because we end up being accused if we do… If you believe what the Newspapers say, anyway).

Courage is something that is seriously lacking in our world, boy do we need it!

One of the reasons I look to the past is that there are tales of Courage and heroism, and not all of them are centred around men and the ideology of the Male Principle.  To turn around and do what is right, to do the thing no one else can or will, to make a stand.  That takes courage.

I’m not saying we need to start running around being reckless or stupid, but what would happen if we all started acting bravely? What if we dared, on a day by day basis, to have ourselves of 20 seconds of courage?

You know the ones, right? It’s that feeling in the back of your head and in your gut.  Something happens and for a moment the world stops.  You know you need to act… Do you?

There are a number of occasions that I remember where I should have acted, but didn’t.  I believe that courage can be built up, if we have the will to do something… DO IT! 20 seconds.  That’s a lifetime in a split moment.  Don’t waste it.

Tell someone ‘No’, say ‘Yes’ to something that you’d normally be scared of.  Dare to step in when your friends argue, tell that girl you have a crush on that she’s beautiful, go and do that thing you’ve always been wanting to do but never have done (if not now, then when?).

I’m done with being unsure, like the Lion from The Wizard of Oz once he realised he had his courage already within, it is time to ROAR! *  It’s time to stop reacting and start acting.  20 seconds…. That’s all it takes.

Photo by Christian Dubstep
Photo by Christian Dubstep

*Yeah, I took the title from the Lannister family motto from Game of Thrones… Wat’cha gonna do!?

What makes a ‘Man’? Part 2

Its been just over a fortnight (when did we start saying biweekly?) since I put up my last post.

I seriously didn’t have any idea it would generate such a positive response- I just got shook up be a bad dream, which opened up a few anxieties I wanted to get off my chest.  That in itself was a good exorcism of those personal demons.

In my last post, I wrote about courage being essential about what makes a “man”.  By this I don’t mean fearlessness, that is something that (realistically) doesn’t exist.  I mean the courage to stand up and do what is right, the courage to actually dare to make our dreams a reality, the courage to stand by one’s beliefs, the courage to go forward instead of looking back.

Last time, I spoke about my feelings on how I perceive I have failed to utilise my potential, something I have decided to face and take on.

In the past two weeks I have made progress in writing my book (just about finished the last chapter, then I need to fully rewrite the conclusion, leave it a week and check for spelling errors and bad grammar as well as correcting sentences that don’t make sense), I have also been rehearsing the part of St. George for a traditional Mummers Play (being performed in Lady Bay and Beeston on the Solstice day! And I’m the only Pagan in the group…).  Tonight, I will be having my first rehearsal for an acting project created by a friend of mine.  The idea being that once its filmed, he shall upload it onto YouTube and see how it turns out.  I’m a little daunted by this, its the first straight acting piece I’ll be doing since 2007, after I sacrificed that world for a business venture and my marriage (courage was essential for both those adventures, the first evolved into something else and the latter is ongoing).  After a lot of soul searching and stopping from running away from myself, it turns out my performing side was still there all along and will always be a part of me.  It just that now I’m no longer denying it and am seeking to work with it once again.

On the OBOD Bardic course, we are encouraged to find our creative and expressive side.  I knew of mine all along, I just lied to myself saying that part of me was over.  What a fool I was!

Embracing the fire within has taught me that my Bardic self is my true self, something I only diluted with Morris Dancing alone.  Having the opportunities presented to me this year to pick up the rest of my performing side has taken the courage to do that what my spirit has been crying out for.

I have no idea where this project I’ll be rehearsing for is going to go, or even if it will be a success.  The important thing is I am stepping forward to do where I feel my potential lies.

I came upon the gorge that had ripped open the land like a wound.  Instead of anything like blood escaping or bone and muscle being revealed, this wound was dark, sucking in any hope and life into its depths. Looking around the land that was once whole and complete, the gorge stretched on for miles around, as far as the eye could see.  On the other side were pear trees, I could only just make out their vibrant green leaves and golden fruits.  The rest of that land was hidden by a fog, the hidden unknown of the future.
  I spent years looking for a way round, there was none.  I even spent those years thinking I was content with staying on this side, where I know the things I do and am familiar with all on this half of the gorge.  And yet. Yet… the calling from the other half was there, I tried to ignore it, hell even told myself I didn’t need to listen to it. 
  Then one day, I spied the pears of those trees and became hungry.  I knew that whatever lies in that fog is where I needed to go.  So I walked back towards the land I already knew, heading toward the trees and rocks I knew all the names of, and then I stopped.  I turned to face the gorge and breathed deeply, every intake as though they were my last.  So… I ran.  Running toward the gorge, the fire blazed within my chest, my breath as quick as I could take it, the strength in my legs burning as I headed closer and closer to the gaping precipice until my right foot touched its lip at which point I yelled only one thing as I leapt into the air above the darkness: “Geronimo!”

What makes a ‘Man’?

Today’s blog was actually inspired by a dream from last night:

I’m in a two-storey cafe, sitting at the head of a table, Pipes is sitting next to me.  The room is full of actors as we’re filming something in the area and we have all invaded this cafe run by my In laws.
  Sitting at the table beyond ours is a man, he is short and stocky, in his late 40s and has short black hair that is going white at the roots.  He is wearing a white sports top and blue shorts.  He looks a little like Mr Toad.
  In between actors walking between our tables, Pipes is trying to explain to this man why it is wrong for him to have loaned some tables to my In Laws and demanding them back despite the fact her Mum and Dad bought them off him.  In short, he wanted both the money and the tables.  Looking into his newspaper, he states out aloud: “I don’t understand this, why isn’t he arguing for you? He is less a man than he is a warrior!”
  Everyone stops and gasps… he was talking about me! Gob smacked, I just sit there in silence as the man gets up, looks at me then leaves…

I’d quite forgotten all about it until I followed a memory trail that revealed the dream I had.

I told Pipes as I remembered it and she asked if I knew why I dreamt of that.

Thinking on this has revealed something that I actually keep secret, even from myself…

I feel I have failed.

The man in the dream was obviously my Shadow (for those unfamiliar with Jungian archetypes, a subconscious manifestation of the bits of our identity we don’t want to acknowledge, often parts of ourselves we’re afraid of).    This time, the Shadow has personified itself in the things negative about Men in general: he was arrogant, sexist, greedy, selfish, single-minded and uncompromising.  In the dream I also got a sense of what he was like in his life: wealthy, the top of his game, runs his own company, a success, whence the arrogance… all the things I’m not.  Besides our sex and gender we had one thing in common: honesty. In the dream I didn’t defend my Wife, she, as my feminine side was speaking for me, this was a masculine Shadow directly challenging my own masculine self.  In the dream I simply let him walk away because I couldn’t argue back.  In my dreaming mind he was right.

This for me, presented a mind-fuck.

This morning I flipped between sadness, anger and then conviction.

I present a friendly, witty and laid back demeanor, yet underneath hide my own issues which is to do with the fact I feel I have failed.  How so? Let’s look at the stereotypical image of what we in the early 21st Century take a ‘Man’ to be:
Muscular, strong, stoic, rich, handsome, successful, determined, authoritive.

Once ‘Man’ and ‘male’ were synonymously linked.  Nowadays its a concept when you consider transgender or transsexual people.

Looking at the above list: I’m no pussy, but I’m no beefcake either.  I have strength in my beliefs, but not always in myself.  Stoic? No. I’m definitely not rich, both me and Pipes live on my wage in a job I am, at the minute undergoing confidence issues with (I kept fucking things up in September and now doubt myself there).  However, I have a wealth of Celtic History and the old tales.  I have Pipes, my cat and our rented home.  Handsome? I don’t like to brag. ;D determined? Not as much as I’d like.  I’ve been happy to follow and let others take charge, especially where I’m not an expert.  Authoritive? Sometimes, I know I can be in certain situations, but not all of them (work for example, I’m not an industrial person, I just pretend to be).

So, on to the biggie: Successful.  Here’s the crux.  We assume that to be successful we must be rich and have plenty of money to be happy.  That’s not really my problem, I know a couple who have the money, two cars a house and its driving them insane.  So I know and understand that money isn’t everything.  So why do I feel I have failed?  Because, in my mind, a Man has focus in his life be it his trade, his calling, his beliefs.  I feel I have failed because I have not attained “success”.  By that, I mean a contribution to Humanity.  To be able to turn around and say “Yeah, I did good there, I’m proud of that.”  I feel that in sacrificing my acting career (before it really begun) I squandered the ‘gift’ I was given, therefore creating a hole within myself of confusion and fear. 
  On the other hand, If it wasn’t for my sacrifice, my Wife would never have been able to get Pagan Pride up and running or begin her music career.

  This writing has been very cathartic for me and if you’ve read it this far, thank you.  I’ve even answered my own question “How do I be a man?”

Y’see, Druidic tradition teaches us the Shadow is represented by the wolf in the Druid Animal Oracle.  Wolf teaches that the Shadow is not to be feared or attacked, it is to be learned from.  Once that is done we can work on ourselves and transcend the barriers we place on ourselves.  The modern ‘Man’ is material in his ‘wealth’ and distractions, however he has no honour and no courage.

The answer to my question is: I can be a ‘Man’ by having the courage to do that what I am afraid of and stop whining about feeling lost and confused… especially when I actually know what must be done.  There are too many people who think they aren’t worth it in this world… I’m one of them and I don’t want to be anymore.
As Dian Cecht told me: “Love Yourself” and I’ll only start doing that by doing what really makes a man: Bravery.

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Photo by locksley2010

Here’s me, a man with long hair enjoying a glass of wine, cheers!