courage requires a corner or two

Our Lady Sycamore dressed in white

I am 33 years old. This is what I have learned:

 

Be brave. Also, be kind. You need to carry at least two cups of both virtues in your pocket at all times and sprinkle generously over every endeavor.

 

Here is something else to know:

 

If you are going to be brave and kind, you must have a soft and small space to retire to in the evening, like the grassy base of a Sycamore tree. You need a place to crunch leaves with the palms of your hands while you regain your energies, regather, reflect, and recoup. A place to burrow and sleep. Because being courageous, no matter how gently, means that you will scare some people. Maybe your words will shake their foundations or threaten their hard won stabilities. Those fearful folk may act unneighborly and startle you with a sneer, a snort, or a shameless scoff. Some may even summon violent and briny water from the four corners of the earth so as to drown you in a tsunami of whodoyouthinkyouare?. And trying not to drown in a tsunami of whodoyouthinkyouare? takes a lot of energy and nautical prowess. At the end of the day, your muscles and your heart may be sore.

 

And another thing:

 

If you are going to speak the truth of who you are, where you are, as you are, you need a place to call home; you need a space where you can be unapologetically raw which means singing, jumping, and sometimes burping; a corner or two where you will be loved in all of your glorious, shabby splendor.

 

You need a cup of tea. A paper bag 1/4 full of salt and vinegar fries. You need a friend or a lover (or both) to grab your shoulders, look you in the face, and say:

 

I am so proud of you. I am proud of your honesty. You are good.

 

Revealing the fleshy underside of your heart, no matter how carefully, is a risky and exhausting business. But essential to being a good human. Vital, wouldn't you say?

 

I am 33 years old. This is most of what I've learned.