The S Word

When my children were little, there was one word which they knew they were not allowed to say. Upon hearing this word from others outside of the family or within it, they would look at me wide eyed, mouth gaping open in shock and whisper “they said the S-word!” The S-word was stupid.

This word came back on my radar after a recent chat with a group of friends. In the course of the conversation, comment was made that there was very little difference between courage and stupidity.

What?! (Sound of car brakes squealing)

An ocean of difference resides between courage and stupidity, but not being one of those quick on my feet thinkers, I couldn’t articulate why in the moment and stowed the comment away for further reflection. It saddened me though to hear those words used in conjunction with each other and within a group of amazing, courageous women.

The definition of stupid as per Google is “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.” The definition of courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one.”

Would you rather be someone who does something unintelligent with courage or would you rather be someone who does something stupid that frightens them? I can see how the definitions could get intertwined.

Admittedly, I speak with bias. Stupid is that word for me. That jarring word conjures up an image of a heart and a small knife…death by a thousand cuts…soul death by a limiting belief.

The oceanic difference between stupid and courage is energy. Words (spoken or unspoken) have energy attached to them, either positive or negative…rarely neutral. Sometimes, we infuse the energy, and sometimes, the word holds the energy already. Word energy manifests through feeling and effect. Courage lifts, stupid puts down. Courage is vulnerable, stupid is small. Courage welcomes the lessons of failure, stupid fears and avoids them. Courage invites company, stupid stands alone in shame.

With time and internet access (that’s what I’m blaming), my children’s height and vocabulary have expanded greatly, and while they humorously enjoy testing out their new definition of the S-word on their poor mother (who feigns wide-eyed shock and mouth gaping…my teens like a little shock value), the original version of the S-word is one they still choose not to use and for that I am grateful.

Don’t Wanna

“Don’t wanna,” my tired brain screams as my son asks me to join him on his school cycling project of seeing how far he can bike each week. In a flash of a second, I go through the litany of excuses…too tired, too much work, not an interest of mine, my endurance on a bike is nil, when is my time? In a flash of another second, I recognize the honor of being asked by this teenage son of mine who towers over me, I see how fleeting time is and how I won’t get this moment back and I see a future in which I get too much of “my time.” I paste a smile on my face and answer “I’d love to.”

Being a comfortable in my rut introvert, having those friends/family who continually challenge me to get out of my comfort zone has been good for me. At the time of initiation of said challenge, it feels a bit like eating my broccoli as opposed to a chocolate chip cookie, but most of the time, it turns into the cookie.

When my dad passed away, I made a promise to myself that I would stop living in the mediocre. I would show up more fully and say yes a bit more often. It was at a time in my life where I could see myself making a lot of excuses of why I couldn’t do things or backing out of things I had committed to. My biggest reason was tiredness, and it was always a handy excuse…after all wasn’t I always tired. This wasn’t to say I abused myself…I am a card carrying member of the Seven to Eight Hours of Sleep a Night Club and am a jerk to live with if I don’t get it.

However, death has a way of both widening and narrowing your perspective to what is truly important in the long term, and I think when you lose someone you love, there is a desire to make some kind of meaning out of tragedy, a way of honoring the dead by living well.

So, here I am peddling away, butt sore, wind knotting my hair and loving every second of it. My son grins at me as he has to wait for me yet again as I am not as fast as him, but I don’t feel bad for slowing him down. I figure I’m the one who makes him notice things…how green the grass is, the lovely wind that cools us as we peddle, the cluster of geese…by slowing him down.

In the process, I make a mental note to myself to notice how good I feel, how the fresh hair has perked me up, how physical fatigue feels so accomplished and what a pleasure my son is to be with, and I file this feeling away for the next “I don’t wanna” moment.

Thanks for asking me.