I believed in courage. With courage I stared nothing in the face and won the proverbial staring contest. I needed courage while I grew up in Alaska: it was my job to feed the sled dogs.
First I would prepare the dogs food. As I opened the back door the moisture from the house would collide with the forty below, arctic dry air creating a wall of fog. Stepping past this barrier of sight and security took enormous courage. But step I did; the dogs faced the bitter cold as well and nourishment was necessary to survive the night.
After the fog I found another terrifying trial. The house provided barely enough light to see my feet. While the northern lights danced brilliant colors overhead, they offered little visibility or relief. I trudged through waist deep snow as the all consuming darkness of the unknown loomed around me. Back in the house Mom sat in her rocking chair, waiting to warm me with her wide arms; the dog’s fearless, even fearsome, companions. Inbetween was a no-man’s land that seemed miles long with only my imagination as comfort.
I tried temporary solutions but they offered nothing more than the fleeting security of a hollow hope. I realized that my fear must be conquered. I left the backlight off, forsook the flashlight, and walked deliberately past the barrier that blocked much more than warmth. I marched into the path and stopped in the middle. I took a deep breath of half ice air and hesitated briefly. Then I started to count. One… two… three… there are no bears, they’re hibernating… four… five… six… lynx are too afraid of humans to come so close; seven… eight… nine… the dogs would be going crazy if wolves were nearby. So I reasoned my way to reality, and therein, safety.
I continued this for awhile until I decided to end my fear of the ludicrous. I walked to the halfway point as usual, but I refused to count down. Fear met me there. I greeted it as an old friend, for fear is only natural. I knew what to allow, and in doing so I denied it the power of overwhelming me.
Then the fear left, just as it came, it left. Courage replaced fear and I greeted him. Courage was a new friend, one I had never before known. Similar to a person you have made small talk with but never been introduced. I formally introduced myself to courage with white fingers losing their feeling.
This friendship has proven invaluable. Courage is always there, just waiting for the word to rush to my aid. That is not to say fear has been banished. No, fear waits to work its worst. However, fear has no place when courage is called upon. I have come to know courage as a friend, and I regularly place my life in his hands.
I believed in courage. Now courage believes in me.
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