An Accidental Journey

At some point in our stories, our hero or heroine will probably demonstrate what we call courage. Often, this is the point at which the protagonist is said to be “fearless.” But courage usually means acting despite fear, not without fear. That is, a person is about to take an action one or many of whose outcomes are frightening: rejections, say, or death. The hero acts anyway. This is courage. I’m all for courage, but I would prefer fearlessness. Fearlessness is exactly that – action without fear. Fearlessness means there are no consequences to be feared. Fearlessness is the moment when the future no longer has any power over the present. It is freedom.

Mostly, I have been courageous in my own life. I have marched myself forward toward the jaws of shame and rejection, loss and failure. I did not see any other option. It was move forward or wait to move forward. Either way, the jaws would still be waiting to snap. Best to summon some courage and get on with it.

But on a few occasions I have acted fearlessly. In every case, I did so more or less accidentally. I was only marching myself forward as I always had, but somewhere in my progress I chose to summon back that portion of my attention I had sent ahead of me to scout for danger. I suppose that whatever I was doing was interesting or challenging enough that I felt it deserved my full attention.

Life is so engrossing when you give it your full attention. Time loses it measured hold on you without the past or future. I looked up from my timeless labor and discovered that the scouts of my attention had been decommissioned. How foreign it felt to know that I did not care what happened next. Why, I had spent so much time peering into shadowy countries I had nearly forgotten what home looked like.

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