Brene Brown is a name that is hard to miss. She is an inspirational speaker and academic whose insights into vulnerability and authentic living have inspired many. While I have yet to watch her new Netflix special, the gist of the message was summed up recently by a friend of mine as, “live from a place of courage not comfort.” This idea was presented to me as questioning what would change in my life if each morning I’d wake up, stretch my arms, get ready for the day, and begin by anticipating how I could live from a place of courage instead of responding to the opportunities and challenges in a way that would protect the comforts I cherish. For a long time, I’ve lived life thinking that saying yes to opportunities, and even seeking out new opportunities, was always the best way forward. It is interesting to me that after a few years of living life this way I’ve actually come to see that sometimes the more courageous answer may be to say no.
As young adults experience the world beyond the piece of this earth they call home for the first time, the natural reaction is often to see as much as possible. When I travel with work this is often the perspective I hold as well. There is something wonderful and thrilling about newness and there is nothing wrong with embracing this mindset for a time. Seize the day! And yet, how might we change our perspectives or perhaps appreciate what we have within our small networks of family and friends when we realize that sometimes having courage means not making a dramatic change? It may mean that rooting oneself in routine and having the courage to realize that living a life in good relationship with others sometimes means passing through uncomfortable times. We may feel bored or restless and that maybe allowing ourselves to live through these times without seeking a dramatic exit strategy might be the courageous way forward.
As IVEPers prepare to return home I do hope that they make the most of their experiences here and continue to live deeply in the new part of the world in which they are now situated both in relationship with those around them and in exploring the communities in which they find themselves. I do though know too that the return home for some is filled with anticipation and for others it will feel like returning to the regular hum drum of everyday life. Have courage. Know that living the “day-to-day life” is sometimes the hardest thing to do, but that it may lead to new insights and understandings that can also be transformative and profound. As I wait and watch for the seeds I’ve planted in my garden to sprout, I’m thankful that I can be here to watch them grow. And as I walk the same streets I walk every day I look for the new opportunities and changes around me that present themselves within a very normal day. I’ll have to watch Brene Brown’s new Netflix special to see if she agrees, but for me embracing courage in my life may actually involve not seeking the comfort that perpetual change seems to bring me.