“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; the brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all” (Source).
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes from the book behind one of my favorite movies, “The Princess Diaries.” The reason I love it so much is I can be a pretty fearful person, and it gives me hope. It tells me that the fearful person is not doomed to a life of hiding in the shadows. Hiding is a choice.
Like my Mamaw always says, “It’s OK to be scared, but you keep going, no matter what.”
So, when I wanted to pull the covers over my head instead of go get interviews on Tuesday, I simply told myself “Keep it together, man!” (“Monsters Inc.”) and headed out. OK, it wasn’t exactly that simple. There were a few additional self-pep talks and deep breathing exercises employed, but the point is, I went. And boy, am I glad I did.
I was interviewing patrons at a local soup kitchen, something totally new to me, and I was worried that I would wind up saying the wrong thing and offend someone. I was worried they wouldn’t want to talk to me. As it turned out, nothing could have been further from the truth.
The first woman I walked up to smiled brightly and warmly welcomed me to sit with her. She then proceeded to strike up a lively conversation with me for the next 20 minutes. As I was gathering my things to move to a different table, a man walked up and sat down beside her. She introduced us and another conversation began, this one perhaps lengthier than the last. As we talked, the two cracked jokes and weren’t at all shy with their responses to my questions. In fact, they answered most of them before I could even ask.
When it was all said and done, I came close to hugging the woman. She made what I predicted to be a quite uncomfortable experience really rather comfortable and even enjoyable. And I would have never benefited from that experience had I never gotten up the courage to try. All of this taught me something it is a shame I needed to learn. It taught me that people who are down on their luck, struggling financially, maybe even homeless, are first and foremost people, just like you and me. They laugh and cut up. They have good days and bad days. They possess the capacity for compassion and each one has a soul.