And so the end of another year is upon us, the looming gift of 366 days (Leap Year, you know) an unopened packaging waiting even as we close down the last week of this year.
Perhaps you, like me, are examining the year that has gone past, realizing that there was too little done for you wanted to do or what you needed to do and too much done that which had no lasting import; you find that the end of the year this year leaves you much in the same position that the beginning of the year did.
Let us take an oath, you and I: Let us make this The Year of Living Courageously.
Why Courageously? Because the world is in sore need of you. It is in sore need of the talents and gifts that you (and I) can supply.
And truth be told, you (and I) need to live up to a better and higher level. Truth be told, if we are where we were at the beginning of the year, we've actually declined, because we've lost a whole year of living.
But I warn you up front: The greatest obstacle to living courageously is not those around you (oh, they'll mock or discourage). It's not the circumstances that will seem to be against you (they will always be against you somehow). And it's not the tides of history that seemingly sweep away any change you desire to make in yourself or the world out to the sea of anonymity (these tides have always swept through human history).
No. The greatest obstacle will be yourself.
Courage is like any other talent. We have to train ourselves to use it. And the first time we use it - the first time we try to live courageously - it will feel like death. We'll feel as if we're a tender shoot, sitting in the hot New Home sun, withering under intense heat of the scrutiny of others but even more so under the scrutiny of ourselves. We'll feel embarrassed and unworthy and a failure.
We'll survive, of course. And we'll do it a second time. And a third time. And it will feel like dying again.
But over time, what we'll find is that courage is like any other muscle: use it enough and an iron-hard conviction will develop within us, something that is no longer swayed by the opinions of others - or the opinions of ourselves. Living courageously will become part of each and every action that we take.
I don't ask about your goals or aspirations or dreams. Live courageously, and these will flow out of you as naturally as breathing.
A few are born courageous - the rest must become so by effort.
Your Obedient Servant,