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Saturday, 12 November 2011

What is courage?

Part of me loves the long evenings when I can snuggle up and put on some candles, but it can tend to be very grey and damp in England which can make you feel a bit low. However today the sun is out at the moment and the trees in front of the house have dew drops glistening and look rather pretty.  Today is one of those days when it is easier to look on the bright side of life.  A day when having the strength to get on with life is much easier.

I don't think that we recognise the strength that we have within ourselves enough. I think we tend to think it has to be the big things in life that proves that we are courageous, but that it so wrong. Courage is just as much about the ability to continue putting one foot in front of another, and continuing to do that day after day, although we know that it would be easier to give up. Doing your duty is one thing you could call it. Those who are awarded the Victoria or George Cross are usually very humble about it. They were doing their duty and in that moment did something astonishing not just for themselves, but for their comrades, something that they saw, in that moment, as being ordinary and exactly what they needed to do to keep putting one foot in front of another. I once heard of a daughter, who going through her father's things after his death, found a box in the drawer with his socks. On opening it she found that it was the Victoria Cross 'For Valour' - he had never mentioned it!  But then having such an acknowledgement of one's courage can also be very daunting, as it can make others expect so much of you when in truth you know that you were just doing what you needed to do that day, and that you didn't flinch although you may have been terrified.

Those who do not deal with a serious illness often say that someone who has to live with one is brave and courageous and some people have said that about me.  I just don't see it.  What alternative is there?  Sit in the corner a give up?  Never get any joy out of being alive again?  Bah, humbug.  Our own problems always seem to be bigger than anyone elses simply because they are happening to us in real time and real emotion, but one thing that I have learned over the last few years is to look at my problems one moment at a time.  If you look at a diagnosis of Stage IV cancer as a whole it is daunting, scary and makes your mind scream as it overloads with the potential of what it means.  But if you look at it one moment at a time you can begin to draw back from the edge and begin to see small triumphs in just being alive.  The sun shining in the dew on the trees, still being able to work for a living, being able to find ways of helping others and the fact that I still have something to contribute.  That is not to say that it is easy or that I don't get fed up with the whole thing, but then I just put one foot in front of the other again and get on with it. 

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