On Being Brave

“You travel alone? Aren’t you scared?”

This is the most common response when someone learns about how I love to travel alone. But more and more I’m meeting other women who travel alone, and I’m glad the group is growing. When someone commented on “how brave I was” I started to think about that word.

Brave. Dictionary definition says “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.”

Way back in 1982, when my extended family spent a week every summer in Yosemite, my sister, Rebecca, had a tradition of designing a t-shirt each year. She would silk screen the t-shirts and we would all wear them for the week. The fun was in being creative about what each year’s shirt would show. Well, 1982 was the year that there was a slew of ads from the military featuring acts of bravery with the tag line “I’m a real man, I’m a Marine.” This became our logo for the summer. BUT there was a caveat. Unlike previous years where the shirt was a gift, you had to EARN your shirt. And you earned it by performing an act of bravery. An act specific to your own fears.

Our memories have failed us: some of us think Aunt Rosemary (who had recently got her driver’s license) earned hers for making the drive from San Francisco to Yosemite, while other’s say she earned it by finally wading across the Merced River (in about two feet of water). Perhaps she performed two acts of bravery that year!

Roxanna earned hers when she ran down from Nevada Falls to fetch a ranger when a man we didn’t know disobeyed all the rules and slid down a sloping rock in the river, breaking his leg (I remember seeing the white bone protrude!)

Joy Lynn earned hers when she held a June bug in her palm.

The infant Ben, earned his for being born!

Someone earned theirs by swimming across the deep part of the river, and another by jumping off a huge boulder into the pool at the base of Yosemite Falls.

My point is: One person’s courage is another’s every day event.

What do you do that is brave? (for you?)