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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable” (Helen Keller).
WHAT DO WE DO WHEN WE’RE PRESENTED WITH SITUATIONS THAT ARE STRANGE AND UNEXPECTEDLY DIFFICULT? Do we back away from them? Like a lazy river meandering down the course of least resistance, do we do that which is easiest?
There is a sense in which we can say that courage is the main quality that life requires of us. The word “courage” comes from the Latin cor (“heart”). To have courage, then, is to have “heart,” and that’s assuredly what we need. We need to be brave-hearted rather than faint-hearted, willing to take life as it comes and deal with it honorably. Life holds little good for us if we’re always retreating.
Courage, however, is a different thing than some people imagine. The truly courageous are never foolhardy — that is, they don’t throw themselves unnecessarily into difficult spots. And when it comes to true adventure (as opposed to recreation or entertainment), the wise don’t go looking for it. As Louis L’Amour wrote, “What people speak of as adventure is something nobody in his right mind would seek out, and it becomes romantic only when one is safely at home.” Real cowboys don’t make a big deal about being “adventuresome.”
But when adventure comes calling, we need to be ready to enter into it openly and actively. Too often, we turn away from adventure for no better reason than that it would be too much trouble to deal with. We’re comfortable in our familiar habits, and so we stay put. Yet we miss much of the tang of life by our reluctance to be bothered. “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered” (G. K. Chesterton).
There is nothing life can do to hurt us as much as we hurt ourselves by our unwillingness to embrace life and live it fully. There are certainly times to be passive, but when the time to be active arrives, we don’t help ourselves or anyone else by defaulting and doing nothing. Lives that make a difference are lives that go forward!
“Live venturously, plucking the wild goat by the beard, and trembling over precipices” (Virginia Woolf).