Yesterday, reflecting on veteran’s day and the men and women who serve our country, I thought about one of my closest friends from the Peace Corps who is currently serving as a medical officer for the Air Force Special Operations in Afghanistan. (I am going to use the pseudonym CW for this post, since her mission is still active.) CW has opened my awareness to the capacity of human courage when it comes to facing our path. CW needs very little sleep, instinctively looks for the fire exits and routes to safety as she enters a room, and remains extremely calm in the face of life threatening emergencies. She was born to serve people during emergencies.
I remember when she told me that she was joining the special ops, that she would likely go to Afghanistan and the extreme training she would face. This is where her path had taken her and she would continue to walk it no matter the danger before her. As I write this, she is serving in Afghanistan, treating serious injuries as a result of missions there. She is not yet a veteran, but Veteran’s Day reminds me of her service and her courage. When she chooses to embrace her gifts, she is choosing a life of great risk and sacrifice. And she does it anyways. When I think of courageously facing my path, I think of CW.
With my apparel dream, I face no similar risks, though the fear is very real. I was born with a passion for designing clothing, with serious compassion for the people around me, with an ability to understand very different viewpoints, with the desire to bring people together, to serve the environment, to help women realize their power and to write. These are my gifts. The path is before me: walking straight through my fear, create an innovative apparel line that brings people together, helps the environment and provides jobs and to write about it to help other people shine their creative lights into the world.
When I think of CW the choice becomes so clear. If she can see the path before her, through one of the most perilous work environments in the world and continue straight towards it, then I can surely walk past my boogiemen and continue to create my dream. Her courage gives me courage.
These past few days I am reminded that my fear is still very real. I can still find myself wandering off down a path thinking that I am not good enough to achieve my dreams because I left my laptop in an unlocked car or because I am not packing my day full enough or going fast enough. But I am finding that I have learned to know the fear and to understand that it has no power to stand in the way of my dreams as long as I keep walking the path, tip my hat to it and continue onward.
Take my hand and let us courageously walk past our fears. See that they only have power when they cause us to stray off our path. See that boogieman or woman and wave at it as you walk past. Perhaps your path is as dangerous as CW’s, perhaps it causes you to face fears of a similar magnitude. Those fears are what makes our path a courageous one, worth achieving and worth fighting for.
Go fight win.