Be Brave

Those are two words I periodically see peppered in Carlos Whittaker's twitter feed: Be Brave.

Simple message really. A quirky command. Vaguely inspirational. Challenging but non-confrontational. However...

It's. Not. Easy.

I am not a brave man.

But then I saw a picture from People of the Second Chance. They frequently post over-stylized photography superimposed with uplifting or motivational missives on their facebook page - one of which (metaphorically speaking) reached out and slapped me. It has been renting space in my head since then.

Over a photo of a man walking toward the sunset through a field of grain is the quote: "I will be brave with my story so others can be brave with theirs."

I get the concept of bravery. Baz Luhrmann released a song during my senior year of high school that contained the advice, "Do one thing everyday that scares you." It makes sense that we should not be afraid of trying new things or facing our fear of heights or public speaking or clowns.

But being brave with my story? That's an entirely different idea. Not that I object to telling my tale. I like to talk and I have the tendency to over-share. I'm a story teller. I'm sentimental and nostalgic.

But I'm not brave. And I don't see much courage in telling my story.

Realistically, I think my history is dull. I had a boring childhood. Just a poor boy from a poor family. (bonus points if after reading that last sentence, a voice in your head sang, "Spare him his life from this monstrosity.")

This might just be my self deprecating sense of ego, but I've never considered my self to be special. Even if there is a glimmer of importance in my self-esteem - by no means would I ever consider my life to have been exciting.

Yet I couldn't get that one line out of my head. "Be brave with my story so others can be brave with theirs."

Now I've been given the opportunity to do just that, an invitation to be brave with my story. I'm at a loss though. I don't want to say the wrong thing. I don't want to offend.

I want to be brave. But it's not easy.

If the words of loswit and POTSC weren't enough to motivate me, I got one more kick in the gut this evening. While doing housework, I opened up iTunes and selected a playlist of songs that would be my soundtrack if my mundane life were ever to be turned into a movie. A half hour into the music, the song The Show Goes On by Lupe Fiasco came on and the third verse gave me just the catalyst I needed.

No matter what you been through, no matter what you into
No matter what you see when you look outside your window
Brown grass or green grass, picket fence or barbed wire
Never ever put them down you just lift your arms higher
Raise em till’ your arms tired - let em’ know you’re there
That you struggling and survivin’ that you gonna persevere

I'm here. I've struggled, I've survived, and I'm sure I'll struggle and survive some more.

So I can be brave. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?

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