“True courage and adventure is found in exploring the meaning of life and discovering the reason for your existence. Even greater joy and fulfillment is found in the persistent struggle to contribute to others’ happiness.”
I was thinking about courage today, when I was working with someone who is successfully beating cancer. Courage comes in different forms, of course, and there are as many forms of courage as there are people. Why ? Because each of us has our own demons. Each of us has something we struggle to face up to, each of us finds fear in things which have relevance to us, and only us. Courage only exists if we have fear. If we are not scared, we cannot be brave. So like Yin and Yang, courage and fear are both aspects of the whole, and both are needed if we are to be complete.
This particular person, the lady I was working with, has been through almost a decade of cancer. The medical treatment was tough, and she needed focus, belief and resolve to get through it, as well as an enormous amount of courage.
Each time she completed the treatment, and then found the cancer had returned, or had never even gone, she needed a fresh dose of courage to pick herself up, dust herself off, and prepare for another fight. Each time, it was harder to find that courage, but find it, she did, and each time, she came back positive, strong, and full of fight.
Now, the cancer has gone, and won’t return, and the healing I am giving, as well as being physical, is aimed at healing the deeper mental and emotional scars of a long battle with cancer.
What really stands out though, is through that whole time, through all those years where she had to face each day anew, with pain and suffering, and with often only herself to face those demons, she gave an equal amount of effort in looking after those around her.
At the same time as she was finding courage to fight her cancer, I was going through my own cancer, not the physical cancer we all know, but a malignant and destructive cancer in the shape of a psychopath, bent on destroying my life. Each day I had to find the courage to get out of bed, and continue my healing work, as well as continue the normal, boring everyday activities that we take for granted, but which can become insurmountable chores, when faced with stress and upset.
Whenever we met, and I tried to talk to her about her illness, and about her treatment, she refused to be drawn, beyond a few brief sentences. Instead, she wanted to know about me. She wanted to support me, comfort me, and help me through it. Frustrating for me, of course, as I needed to speak with her, each week, to understand her progress. When I tried to object, she would chastise me, exactly as I would chastise a cancer patient who was considering giving up.
Despite her problems, her focus was always on my pain, and the problems of those around her. Her courage helped her through her ordeal, but helped dozens of other people through their own personal hell too. She had enough courage to share it around, and I was lucky to be one of the many recipients of her bravery. It would have been all too easy to focus on herself, and to concentrate on her own problems. But in helping others, she was able to expand and strengthen her own courage, which I am sure was one of the factors in her eventual recovery from cancer.
Courage shared is never wasted. Courage shared comes back to us twice as strong. There is never a time when we can’t help another person. And in helping others, we find real meaning, and when our lives have meaning, we become indestructible.