Courage: The Flip Side of Fear

On this day when we remember the brave men and women who died to secure our constitutional liberties, a post about courage (bravery, dauntlessness) seems more than appropriate. The fact that Bravery is heads on the coin where fear is tails might not be as welcome.
In an article on Literary Hub, another author introduced me to this phrase: “Fear and bravery are different sides of the same coin.”
Since I’ve chosen to be DAUNTLESS in 2017, I wanted to reject this simple assertion.

                               “I’m defeating and banishing fear from my heart, mind and life.”

Isn’t that what it means to be dauntless?


But according to Hala Alyan, maybe I’ve been going about this dauntless thing all wrong.

NO Fear

I’ve been working under the assumption that if I’m feeling afraid and anxious about something, I’m not being brave.

Which goes in the face of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain, Franklin Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela. Yes, it’s such a great thought that many people have reiterated it in their own words over the centuries.

To conquer my fears, I must continue to move forward through the fire I’m sure will burn me. The Dauntless jump off the train with abandon onto the platform near their living quarters.

They might have learned to be adrenaline junkies, but the first (dozen) times they jumped, their hearts, lungs and stomachs surely rebelled. Their brains wanted to draw back, play it safe, keep away from pain and injury.

Every time they successfully completed the jump, the Dauntless experienced a different sort of adrenaline rush. Rather than fear, anticipation welled in them. They had tricked their brain into enjoying the dangerous activity.

          Strange how terror and anticipation can provoke the same physical reactions in our mind and body.

But our soul knows the truth. It knows if we’re still afraid deep down or if we’ve overcome that particular anxiety.

Being Dauntless

Once we’ve mastered jumping off the train, it means we need to find a new terror to conquer.
Or not.

Does being dauntless mean a continual rush into situations that overwhelm our safety barriers? If we’re playing it safe, does it mean our dauntless spirit will starve to death?

Continual stress kills. And pumping adrenaline through our veins is exactly what stress does.
I don’t think it’s healthy to live on the edge where our bodies experience constant anxiety, fear or terror.
Being dauntless doesn’t mean becoming an adrenaline junkie and heading for an early grave. Either from a broken bungee line or a heart attack from too much stress.

                                               And dead is dead.

Dauntless me isn’t looking for death. But DM should be willing to stare death in the face.

In my world, that’s more the death of expectations, death of dreams and death of pride. If I write a young adult fantasy novel and no one wants to read it, that kills the part of me with a message for those readers.
But it doesn’t mean I’m not dauntless if I change genres.

If the nonfiction book doesn’t garner interest with publishers, will I self-publish it myself? If I believe in its message strongly enough, yes.

And if only a handful of people read it and it helps even one person, it has succeeded in the purpose I have for it. Yes, if the sales are this slow, there will be death to the dream of becoming a best-selling nonfiction author and sought-after speaker.

But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t dauntless in the moment-by-moment action of living out my calling to write words that encourage others.

It takes courage to face rejection and failure. But if Two Face can flip the coin, so can I.

Do you agree that courage and fear are sides of the same coin? How would you define courage?

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