December 4. “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.” (Mark Twain)
I have written before about how my personal definition of courage is that it is the ability to act in spite of the fact that I have fear. This quote takes that to another level. In this quote, Twain refers to courage as not just the fact that I act, but that I resist the fear and master it. Mastering fear takes courage to another level.
This past weekend my wife and I decided to watch The Wizard of Oz. We have each seen the movie dozens of times, and it still never fails to entertain us. As I read this quote I was thinking of the Cowardly Lion, and his transformation in the movie. From the time he meets Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, until the time that the Wizard gives him the recognition for his courage, he not only acts in the face of his fears, but he does so with mastery. He heroically works with the Tin Man and Scarecrow to save Dorothy and kill the Wicked Witch of the West.
Prior to that fateful encounter at witch’s castle, the lion tries to assert his might with his roar, and to talk his way into courage. But none of that works. It isn’t until he takes action, it isn’t until he takes on a heroic deed that he masters his fears. It isn’t that he no longer fears, it is that he uses the energy from the fear to fuel his heroic deeds.
I can talk all I want about courage, and I can even act in spite of my fear, but that isn’t enough. To be truly courageous I not only need to act in spite of my fear, I must make fear my bitch. I must use the fact that I have fear as the fuel the propels me into action!
Today my reflection is on mastering fear in order to increase my courage.