February | 2013

Lesson No. 41: Expand Courageously 

“Life shrinks or expands according to one's courage.”

This month, William gave me great advice on taking risks and being courageous.

I always thought of him as on the fearful side, as he has long been frightened of being alone on a different floor than us, in our home. I, too, remember how as a kid I was afraid of being alone in my basement or upstairs, but William seemed terrified on a really deep level. So I am amazed by the courage he’s shown in the past few years. And he has been taking all sorts of courageous risks, from talking to adults and asking for what he wants or needs to climbing precarious ledges, doing a ropes challenge course, parasailing, flipping on the monkey bars, and jumping off the high dive.

Recently, after cringing while I watched him exuberantly jump off the high dive for the first time, I asked him when he got so courageous. And how!

He said to me, “Mom, I have this technique I use. When I see something I want to do, but I’m really scared, I think, ‘What if I don’t get to do it tomorrow? What if this is my last chance to do it?’ And then…I just go and do it.”

“Wow,” I said. “So that’s it. That is enough to focus your mind and do it.”

“Well, I know I’d be really sad if I didn’t do it when I had the chance, and then I never got the chance again. I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to feel like I should have done it, but didn’t. So I just do it. I just say, ‘I have to do it now, because I may not get to do it tomorrow.’ And I do it.”

Just like jumping off a high dive, it takes great courage to relax and open to the present moment as it is happening; with a warm, open attitude, without judging, critiquing, or limiting ourselves and others. To me, this is risky work, but this is the spiritual work of being human: to make ourselves whole in this way. For when we relax in this way, we grow beyond our wildest expectations, and life expands beyond our limited view of ourselves and the world. Let’s be willing to risk relaxing in order to full bloom. We may only have today.

Let’s do it for each other!