Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Whose Bravery?

I'm struck every day by how we judge others by our personal standards.  Oh.  You've noticed too?

This past weekend, my husband and I were staying at a place where they furnish bikes.  There were two of them and both of them felt uncomfortable for me.  The seats were too high and I didn't feel like I could stop with any stability.  My husband called me a wimp for not agreeing to get on one even though I didn't want to.  The discussion moved forward in that way of discussions and soon I was being accused of not ever wanting to take chances or push my physical limits.

In the old days this type of 'discussion' would have deteriorated rapidly.  But on that day I took a minute to think about what he was saying.  He was saying that he liked to take chances and push himself physically and that if I didn't there was something wrong with me.

"Okay. I get what you're saying," I said.  "So, I tell you what.  I'm going to give you a piece of paper and in five minutes I want you to write the beginning of a story.  Then I want you to read it to a group of people, some of whom you barely know."  He looked at me like I was crazy.  "Then," I went on, "I want you to spend hours expanding it and revising it and after you feel like you have something worthwhile, I want you to send it to a dozen literary magazines and wait for them to reject it. And if you don't do this, I"ll tell you I think you're a wimp.  Or stupid."

Hmmm.  Something started to sink in maybe?

"In the past seven years, I've been brave in ways I never thought possible," I told him beginning to get emotional.  "They aren't your ways of being brave, but they were acts of courage nonetheless.  For you to hold me to your standards of bravery is patently unfair."

He got it. And I appreciate it. 

What I took away from the discussion is that he would like for me to do more things with him that are physically challenging.  He has certainly put himself in situations at my urging where he wasn't all that comfortable.  So I'm going to work on it.

Is there a place where you're holding people to your standards without respect for their strengths?  Where are some places where you might stretch yourself, be courageous where you haven't been?


Anna said...

I've been so lucky to see some of the many ways you've pushed and tested your limits over the last decade. I'm so proud of and inspired by you!

Nneka, Working Mystic said...

Definitely food for thought. In general, I hold myself to high standards and don't really expect much from anyone else. For a long time, I expected everyone to live like me. As I met more and more people who didn't (for better or worse by my opinion), I let it all go.

As ever, your writing is thought provoking:-)

mamie said...

Anna, thank you for acknowledging my bravery! You've certainly had a front row seat. <3

mamie said...

Nneka, Your statement about not expecting anything from anyone else raises another question: Do people tend to live up to our expectations sometimes? And can that be a motivator? Your response was thought-provoking too. xoxo