March 20, 2009


Courage is living in such a way so that you don't have to say, "I wish I woulda."

For example...

I wish I woulda tried out for the baseball team my senior year in high school.
I wish I woulda made the pot with the potter at Silver Dollar City.
I wish I woulda asked more questions at school.

Last night, I was at a parenting conference, hosted by YouthFront, featuring Jim Burns. There was a resource fair, with booths and tables and free stuff that I could peruse before the sessions and during the breaks. At one of the tables, I found a book (imagine that!) called The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory, by Torkel Klingberg. I thumbed through it and immediately recognized the value of this resource. I joked with the table hostess that if her book happened to disappear, I promised to return it within a couple of weeks, with a couple of pencil scribbles and some highlighted areas.

The conference met in YouthFront's auditorium. Jim spoke on a platform in front of an enormous stage, decorated to look like a living room. I sat down at my table near the front of the platform and began looking through the flyers and programs and what-not. Jamie, a family minister from Lee's Summit, sat down next to me, and we started talking. She, too, had seen the book and also wanted it.

She then issued "the dare."

"I'll buy that book for you if you'll sit in the living room set during the second half of the presentation."

A free book in exchange for temporary embarrassment.

I grabbed my bottled water, papers, and pen and sat in the recliner closest to where Jim would be speaking. It was really hot under the stage lights, and I saturated my favorite hat with sweat. At one point, Jim turned around, looked at me, and asked me if I was comfortable. I simply told him that I really like to read and that I'd get a free book if I stayed up here during his presentation. So I did.

After he was done speaking, Jim turned around and shook my hand and said, "That was really funny. I'm really glad you did that. I hope you enjoy the book."

I have lived too much of my life afraid. Afraid of what others will say or think about me. Afraid of what will happen if I fail. Afraid of being in front of a crowd of people.

Courage is that je ne sais quoi that enables a person to walk through difficult or trying times, even if he or she is afraid.

To en-courage is to inspire, to strengthen, to stand alongside of someone in difficult times.

To dis-courage takes the hope, the confidence, the spirit out of a person.

I want to live in such a way to encourage others to live so they won't have to say, "I wish I woulda."


Jennifer H said...

Ha! I love it! Well done, sir!

Sally Rymer said...

That was a good laugh :-)

Good job, and enjoy your book.

sheri said...

I'm proud of you! Now if I could figure out a way to help one of my students learn what you have learned!