By Margie Warrell
A friend’s mother recently died. Over the last few years she’d spent more and more time alone, inebriated, nursing a deepening and long-held resentment toward her ex-husband, and unwilling to confront the truth of her life: that she had, at least in part, driven him away and was responsible for her own loneliness and failing health.
“How are you?” I asked my friend after her funeral. “Strangely enough, I feel at peace,” she replied. “Mum has always been fast to point the finger at others and never been willing to own her part in her problems. I’m sad that she died as she did, but I realized there was nothing I could do beyond just love her as she slowly drunk herself to death.”
Silence followed, as we both became present to the gift of our friendship, of life, and to the profound toll our hearts pay when fear and unforgiveness set up residence in our lives.
People often die as they live, I’ve found. Sometimes, most tragically, with a closed and bitter heart. Other times, with a big whole hearted one. Or somewhere in between.
What makes the difference is the courage with which we live our lives. And in today’s culture that celebrates superficiality even as it censures it, that stokes our anxieties and dials up our fear of the unknown, living bravely has grown increasingly indispensable for living well.
Of course, living a brave life is not always easy. Sometimes, as with my friend’s mother, it requires having the courage to own the choices we’ve made and the way they have driven wedges into our relationships and left big holes in our lives.
Other times, it requires daring to leave behind the familiarity of the known and to step, knees trembling, toward a future that is yet to be created, but which tugs on our hearts deepest desires.
And then there are the everyday acts of courage. Saying sorry. Asking for help. Setting a boundary. Extending an invitation and risking a rejection. Taking on a goal that scares you as much as it inspires you. Saying no to something good to create space for something better. Confiding a secret that’s been weighing you down. Speaking truthfully, despite the possible fall out. The list goes on. And on.
Having spent much of the last 20 years helping people to confront their deepest fears and to find their courage – in small ways and big – I’ve learnt that there is no short cut for living a brave life beyond simply taking a big deep breath and doing that very thing that we are afraid of. Along the way I’ve tried to walk my talk. Some days better than others of course. Writing my first book. Having my fourth child. Running my first Live Brave Women’s Weekend. Sharing my heartaches. Owning my mistakes.
It’s why I’ve decided to launch my Live Brave Podcast. I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing of course. But as Emma Isaacs, whom I interviewed for one of the first episodes shared with me, sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to ‘wing it’ and learn as you go.
I hope you’ll tune into it and listen to a little of my own hard-won wisdom as well as to some inspiring conversations with brave hearted people from across the world. People like Marianne Williamson whom I sat down with in New York a few weeks ago and whose powerful words – “your playing small does not serve the world” – continue to embolden me to pursue the boldest vision for my own life.
One thing I know for sure is this, that no matter what path you’ve taken up to here, that within you is everything – everything – it takes to pursue your own bold vision, and to confront the fears that have stood in your way until now.
I’d love to hear from you – your feedback and your suggestions. But most of all, I hope you will take a moment to ask yourself where you need to be a little bit braver in your life today. And then tomorrow, to ask that same question again.
Life is not about arriving, it is about becoming. We do not grow into the person we were born to become with one big brave step, but by a thousand small steps.
Today is your day to take one of them – to choose faith over fear, growth over comfort, possibility over familiarity.
Life is shorter – more fragile, less permanent – than most of us like to acknowledge. I hope my words will inspire you to recommit living your one and only precious life to the full so that when you arrive in the twilight of your life you will be able to look back without regret of what ‘could’ have been and be able to celebrate the person you’ve become. Imperfect but whole-hearted.
Here’s to living your biggest life and forging your bravest path. Because in the final count, it is not where you arrive that matters, it is the person you became in the process.
Subscribe to Margie’s Live Brave Podcast on iTunes, Spotify and other platforms here.