27 July 2007

Choking on the Bone

Welcome to my first post-Potter post in a while. And shockingly enough this post isn't really about Potter at all (shocking I know)-though, to be fair, it is inspired by a quote I read today in an interview with JK Rowling. She was talking about the major themes in the books and said something to the effect of how what she likes to look at in characters is what decent people do when they're frightened-and how much she values the virtue of courage.

When I was in England earlier this summer we got into lots of discussions on risk taking. I don' t really consider myself a risk taker-I think I've written about this before. I usually take the safe route. I stay in my room on weekends instead of going out to meet people more often than not.

I've had lots of interesting varied thoughts on courage and bravery today-I was listening to You've Got Mail today at work (I listen to movies while I enter information into a computer) and there's a line in there where Kathleen wonders if she is the way she is because she likes it or because she hasn't been brave. And then through a series of frustrating events I found myself back in that pit of depression that comes after I have a streak of ambition that I can't do anything about. I had so many great plans for myself after I came home from England-I felt as though I had really made some emotional progress. I was ready to take on the world and be the person I've wanted the strength to be-and then I got back and everything I wanted for myself blew up in my face in the space of about...72 hours. Give or take. I spent half the afternoon at work thinking about my summer and how I have gone from one extreme of feeling that everlasting yea to another feeling everlasting no (look up the reference).

But I've decided that I don't want to feel down any more. My last semester at school was miserable and I don't want this summer to be that way either. So after thinking about that quote and then reading Jo's interview, I decided to look up some quotes on courage to see if I could get a better definition of what it was. Because there are pretty varied definitions-the thesaurus lumps it up alongside words that don't necessarily feel like they would always go up next to each other-faith and recklessness for example. Coolness and certainty alongside aggressiveness and daring. In other words, the definition of courage is still a little up for grabs. Or at least what people associate courage with.

So I looked up some quotes on courage instead-since that is what I do-I'm a quote person. And I found a lot of good (if somewhat contradictory) quotes on courage. I found a few main themes though-for instance, most people agree that courage doesn't exist if there is no opposition. Simple enough. Some people point out that the best kind of courage exists in small doses in day to day things, and others talk of those who aren't afraid to stand on their own. Some say courage is the absence of fear, others say that courage is the conquest of it. I haven't fully come to my own conclusions on courage yet, but I'm hoping that further study/experience may gear me up to make the changes I want in my life possible in this next semester. In the meantime-chew on a few of these quotes and come to your own conclusions.

Alan Cohen: It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.

Buckminster Fuller: Dare to be naive.

Charles Dubois: The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.

Eleanor Roosevelt: You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

Teddy Roosevelt: It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

From a speech given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910

Winston Churchill: Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

And because I can't go one post without mentioning Harry...a week ago this very minute I was opening my copy of book seven. Chapter one, page one. Sad! I want that night back!

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