Courage. It’s awesome and amazing, in the original sense of causing awe and amazement, and we may be called to summon it at any time.
It can be displayed over time, as in daughter Nancy Borowick’s photographic chronicling of her parents’ final months dying of cancer. Through her elegant black and white images, we see how her parents — and the entire family — chose to live and love while not denying the inevitable. The couple, married 34 years, used laughter, food, and silliness to embrace life until the end.
Courage may be developed and nurtured through grit, determination, and sheer control over fear and physical near-impossibility. On June 3, 31-year-old Alex Honnold free-soloed (no ropes, pitons — nothing) the sheer face of Yosemite’s El Capitan. Starting at 5:32 that morning, he scaled 3,000 vertical feet and clambered over the top to stand victorious three hours and 56 minutes later. When asked, he said, “Feeling fearful while I’m up there is not helping me in any way. It’s only hindering my performance, so I just set it aside and let it be.”
Others simply have courage thrust upon them; some ordinary morning, a quiet afternoon, during a dinner out, far from any thought of danger. Three men in Portland, OR recently went to the aid of two young women being bullied, and two of them lost their lives, while courage was demanded of a bystander who stanched the wounds of a third, who survived.
Just recently, on a cool summer London evening, others were thrust to the forefront through a terrorist attack that left seven dead and dozens wounded. Amid the chaos was a young man, later identified as Liverpudlian Paul Armstrong, photographed running with the crowd, his unfinished pint balanced in one hand. (After all, they’re 6£ in London.)
Another eyewitness, Richard Angell, told reporters he will return to the Arabica Bar and Kitchen in Borough Market to pay his bill and “double-tip” the staff who “cared about us and our safety.” He further stated, “If me having a gin and tonic and flirting with handsome men is what offends these people so much, then I’m going to do it more, not less.”
Courage. Let’s hope it will be there when it’s our turn.