It’s Not Bravery If It’s In Your Blood

Guy had me watch a list of 80’s movies while I was visiting him over the 2011 New Year’s. On the list was Highlander, a story about this Scotsman who just couldn’t be killed. His immortal race was on the decline because it was fated they had to kill each other off to get the others’ power. Immortals dying. How quaint. The point I’m attempting to make, though I’m sure it is vague enough, is that these immortals sought each other out because it was in their blood in a way. Survival of the fittest. You learn to take a few hits as long as you don’t lose your head.

That’s kind of the premise of this post.

I have met so many people out there who have drawn me in to chit-chatty conversations that aren’t supposed to mean anything in the daily scheme of things. Words to just fill up an awkward silence. The words I’ve been hearing the most lately, “you’re so brave,” in response to “Oh, I’m going to Korea for a year to teach.”

Is that brave? I usually find myself shrugging off their statements. Brave? Oh, of course not. I’m just hopping on a plane and going to teach somewhere for a year. No big deal. Have I been there before? Oh no, I don’t even know the language. I have a cookbook. I have my experience as an educator. This sort of thing happens all the time.

Really brain? Is that what you’re thinking? Because you’ve obviously pulled one over on yourself if you think it’s normal and everyone else doesn’t. I suppose this would be the time to mention I might be in danger of losing my head.

I do not consider the act of going somewhere new to be a brave thing. Doing something new is another matter. I think I would be far more terrified of teaching in my own, new class of students than going to another country to teach other students. I’m more terrified of the every day than the extra special, which I think is rather weird, personally. And it’s the strange fear of the every day that makes me brush off the astounded comments I get, because I don’t know how everyone else does it. I don’t know how to fear places I’ve never been because I’m stuck fearing a monotony of the things I could do every day.

My definition of success is still attached to people who have the ability day in and day out to do their job to the very best of their ability and never feel the need to be satisfied by anything more than that. I’m also still in the mindset that a “job” is a job because it can never truly be enjoyed. I know my views are archaic in that department, but that doesn’t make the fear less tangible. It also doesn’t help when I know I need a job, and my mental image of a job is aligned with the notion that it’s something you don’t enjoy, but do, so you can earn money on which to survive. And therein lies the problem, negative association. I haven’t had the opportunity to change it into a positive one yet, and I’m already grimacing.

But my point is, going places has always been a part of me. I’ve had that privilege since I was small, and I’m thankful for the experiences I’ve encountered because of it. I think, while Indiana Jones was courageous and looked mighty fine taking on his enemies with barely a shirt on, it wasn’t necessarily because he needed to be brave. His bravery was in response to what he was doing, more of a side effect of his curiosity than anything else. And if you’re curious and adventurous for long enough, you might start developing this sense of being that lets you sit on five-hundred foot overhangs without giving it a second thought.

If I wanted to be brave, I wouldn’t be going anywhere. If I wanted to be brave, I would have stayed in one spot and weathered quite well all the things that could have been thrown my way. But if that were me, I’d probably be called stubborn instead.