Friday, August 24, 2012

A Difficult Reflection on Courage

I couldn’t even look at it.

I followed the link through a tweet. I knew what it would be. Just one look would make me cry. I closed the window before it began.

It’s the Faces of the Dead slideshow and it has pictures of the first 2000 service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan who have been identified and whose families have been alerted. 

That’s 2000 families whose lives are forever changed by the irrevocable sacrifice of their fallen soldier.

And my cowardly self cannot even view their pictures.


Lately I’ve been pretty wrapped up in the personal drama playing itself out in my small world. I have been in the water, as David Foster Wallace might say. I have been convinced of the hardship of my own experience.
But I am really good at changing perspectives. Like removing colored filters from theatre lights, I can adjust the temperature and shade of the scene I’m in. 

Though sometimes I find myself dangling from the rafters, high above the stage and sometimes I forget mine is not the only stage in town, I can usually do the psychological work necessary to put things in perspective.

Adding Shadows

I am fiercely patriotic. Not in the way that I think there’s nothing wrong with the U.S.A. or in that Dixie-Chick-hating-fervor way that mistakes loyalty to one as hatred of all “other.” I am patriotic in the way that I really believe I would do anything for my country.

Ever since September 11th and even more so since we went to war, the National Anthem has brought me to tears. Not just small drips of pride but sobs.

I cry for the soldiers on that slide show. For their families. For the great loves of their lives. For the loss of what else they could become.

I didn’t join the military. I didn’t sign up and put myself in harm’s way to defend our freedoms. I believed I could serve my country by making it a better place to live.

Get Busy

And what have I done, to that end?

I have been teaching English to people who want to improve their lives through higher education. I coach and mentor young girls interested in running. Book clubs and writing clubs and running clubs and YMCAs. I have the activity-suggests-a-life-filled-with-purpose approach.

I care for my family, obey the law, and write.

Define "hero"

I am lucky enough to experience the “quandary of self-actualization” as my friend Lynn wrote. In my playhouse, I adjust the setting, the actors, and the lights. I move the plot along.

But I need to remember mine is only one such playhouse. There are countless other stages upon which significant personal dramas are occurring.

When I write about perspective I expect to be helping others step away from their immediate circumstances. Think about those other stages, those other playhouses, those other dramas of which they may not be fully aware.

Hide from nothing

It’s a tremendous gift to have the means by which to ponder such things and the security in which to do so. I am grateful for those whose physical courage has given me the freedom to exercise my psychological courage.

Experience and exposure are the shaping agents of our immortal souls. To open oneself to both is to try to live one’s fullest possible life.

I’m going to watch the slide show now.

What personal reflection have you avoided because it would challenge you? Is it your career? Your family? Your fitness?  How did you overcome that fear?


  1. WOW! The questions at the end cause me to pause and reflect on my own courage or lack of courage when it comes to what really matters in my life. I would like to believe I live a life in which I encourage others to strive for their best potential. I hope I demonstrate to others that by living a life full of love and honesty the world is a better place. I am not sure I show courage on a daily basis. I am challenging myself at this moment to go forward and live more courageously than I have in the past! Thank you, Kasie!

    1. Living with intention requires that we do the hard work. Pay attention, make choices, have courage, live our principles. Thanks for reading, mom. I'm glad this post spoke to you ;-)

  2. This is very powerful, Kasie. you have challenged me to do some serious thinking, and hopefully, take action on those thoughts.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll see some positive results from your reflection and the actions that result from it. Change takes courage.

  3. Greetings!

    I’m hopping over from GUTGAA and checking some blogs along the way. Nice to meet you! You have a lovely blog…good luck with GUTGAA!

    Donna L Martin

    1. Thanks, Donna. I'll be sure to stop by Donna's Days when I do my blog hop this afternoon. Glad to meet you and good luck to you as well!


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