You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. - Eleanor Roosevelt
When I was 8 years old I won several regional piano competitions and earned myself a trip to the State competition and recital at OBU in Shawnee, Oklahoma. This was a really big deal for an 8 year old. The two hour trip up to Shawnee that morning in our Conversion Van (ya, I know - shut up) with my Mom, Step-Dad and Grandparents went by in a stomach - knotted haze.
I remember getting through the first part of the competition - the written test, and then the second part - playing my song in front of a room full of judges - with relative ease. Then came the scary part; I was to play my song in the main music hall in front of approximately 400 people, on a real life, full length, black GRAND PIANO.
I was completely enthralled at getting to play on one. It was huge and it looked like something out of a movie. I remember gazing at it from the side of the stage and thinking two things: 1. it was the biggest, most beautiful piano I had ever seen in my life, and 2. that I was scared to DEATH. I remember waiting there for the man to call my name - ticking off the seconds but feeling them as hours.
When it was my turn, and he finally announced me, he announced my last name wrong. Something clicked inside of me and I wasn't afraid anymore - I was irritated. Back straight, head held high, I walked onto the large stage straight up to the announcer, tugged his jacket sleeve, and corrected him. Then, I walked back OFFSTAGE. I waited on him to announce me again, this time saying my name correctly; and he did. The audience chuckled but I remember thinking, 'this is my moment to be up here - I want to hear you pronounce my name right'. Then I sat myself down at the biggest, most beautiful, black grand piano I had ever seen and I played.
I want to be that little girl again: unafraid to walk the path in front of her and absolutely sure of herSelf.
I wonder where it went - my courage. How did I go from being THAT person to the person I have become? Where did my courage go? Where did my FAITH in mySelf go? How did I go from KNOWING that I could do something, and do it well - mind you, to KNOWING that I could do nothing well? Is it a girl thing? Is it person thing? Is it a child of dysfunction thing?
I don't know.
What I do know is that I need that courage back; that unfailing sense of Self and sureness and willingness to walk forward. I know that the road in front of me is going to be difficult. I know that I am going to be terrified a good many times. So many of the medical procedures facing me are nearly as bad for me as the damn disease said procedure is treating. Seriously. Undertaking these things - these "treatments" will be a test of my will, my character, and my ability to endure.
So here I sit. I am waiting to hear when my next MRI is going to be and it occurs to me that writing this blog - that THIS, all of this, takes a good deal of courage too. To do it - to put it out there - to tackle the "white demon" that is the empty page; takes courage. So maybe this writing out loud is my dosage - small drops of courage on my tongue to get me ready to do the big things: to pick up the phone and schedule those appointments, to face the images on the MRI films, to read the doctor's reports.
Courage in small doses then - when things are bad and my joy is full of gray. Small doses and small steps down the path. Here's hoping.
We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world. - Helen Keller