My cell phone rang on a Sunday morning.
I was still in bed, but I picked it up anyway. In my sleepy voice I said “hello,” and on the other line I heard the voice of a good friend of mine.
My friend had recently been going through a very challenging time in her life.
She had been, as my therapist once called it, “on the fast track of life.” And now she had gotten to the a moment on the track of life where the entire track disappears and the train flies completely of its rails.
I am finding that not all of us experience this “off-the-fast-track” moment. There are those who don’t have the slightest idea what I am talking about when I try to explain it. But those who have experienced it, instantly light up and nod their heads. They know that moment in life like the back of their hand, because, oh boy, have they been there.
It’s not a moment I would say one should be envious of, or even one that people should fear, it’s just a moment that happens, and it’s a moment that changes those who experience it—forever.
I call this moment in life: The Courage Moment.
That Sunday morning when my friend called, I remember, in my half-awake daze, attempting to reassure my friend. I was trying to do the best I could to comfort her. I shared with her that I had gone through a similar experience nearly two years ago, (it’s a story that I shared pretty openly with my readers many times.) So, imagine my surprise when I encountered myself at the other side of the situation.
Here I was, past my own “Courage Moment” guiding a new friend through the same phenomenon.
Now, I know that many of you are going through your own “Courage Moment” right now, and so I hope that what helped comfort my friend might help you too.
So, this is basically what I told her: (Okay, I didn’t tell her all of this, but it was basically what I was trying to say.)
My Courage Moment
Right before I started my blog, before I began my novel, I was not at all engaged in my passion. I kept postponing it, ignoring it. In fact, I kept acting, which for a long while I had discovered was not my calling, but I kept doing it because everyone told me that I should.
I was at a job I hated, where they treated me badly. I was dating someone who I was fully ready to be in a committed relationship with, but who wasn’t ready to do the same with me. I was helping a loved one through a serious disease—and I had given up taking care of myself, or addressing my own needs first, because I thought that given yourself completely was what you were supposed to do when a loved one was suffering. (I later found out that I was terribly wrong.)
I had no idea at the time that I was moving forward in life very passively. Life was something that was happening to me—I was not “happening” to it.
But then, all of a sudden, the train finally reached the part where there were no more tracks: the job went, the boyfriend did, too, and the disease my loved one was suffering from only got worse.
And here I was.
I didn’t know it yet, but I had arrived at my courage moment.
It was like life was saying to me:
“Ollin, I’ve given you chance after chance to be you. But you refused. I kept pushing you and tugging at you and bugging you and warning you. But still, you didn’t listen. I sent you red flags, and signs, and messages—telling you that you gotta be you. But you refused. So, you’ve given me no choice. I’m now taking everything away from you. Everything. And you won’t get it back until you’ve learned to be you, until you learn that you don’t need all those things that you thought you needed. You don’t know this yet, but in the process, you’re going to learn what being free really means. No one’s gonna understand you when you try to explain what you’re going through. But you won’t care. Because you’ll be too busy being you. You’ll be too busy being free.”
Life had put in a mean corner, and the only way to get out was if I started being me.
So, I said, frak it. I started my novel. I started a blog. I started to be me.
And what do you know? Miracle, after miracle, after miracle came as a result.
Two years later, and my blog keeps growing every day, my novel gets closer to completion every day, and every day I feel more fulfilled because I feel like I am helping people all across the world step into themselves and into their passion.
You have no idea how much joy I get when I get a personal message from a reader who says my words have influenced their life in a positive way. I don’t share these messages with anyone, because they’re private, but, boy, would your heart light up like if you ever read them.
I’ll live off the love of my readers for the rest of my life if I have to—it’s enough to keep me going for the time being.
What My Courage Moment Taught Me
Okay. To be fair, no, not everything is as I would wish it would be nearly two years after my Courage Moment. I’m not the richest man in the world, or the smartest, or the most talented, or the most popular.
But, if I am anything, I may be closest to being the freest man in the world—and I’ll take title any day.
Although, I’d have to be honest: I don’t really care about titles any more. I know the nature of true karma, and I know that to be good, brings good to me right away—without delay. So there’s no need to await rewards, the reward for being me and for being good arrives right away.
I now know—due to my Courage Moment—that I am already complete. I am already whole. And that just working on my novel, even if it isn’t published, even if it isn’t a worldwide success—that’s THAT’S what makes me a success. What makes me a success is being me, and it’s the little things I do, the sentences that make up the big sweeping paragraphs, that make me a success. These little things count for far more than the big things.
I know. You may not agree about my definition of success. You don’t have to.
My definition of success is my own, little creation, after all. Life is really only made up of all the little things we create.
This, too, is what my courage moment taught me.
And this may be what your courage moment will teach you.
Your Courage Moment
On that Sunday morning, I told my friend that this was her moment. It’s the moment when her life is saying: okay, I’ve given you thousands of chances for you to be you—but you didn’t take them. Now, I’m forcing you into a mean corner—and the only way you’re going to get out is if you finally decide to be you.
Now, to you reader, I say the same thing I told my friend: if you’ve reached your own courage moment—the moment in which your life has finally fallen off the tracks, and there’s no more ground left to stand on—then you need to ask yourself this one question:
“Am I being me?”
If the answer is no, then you better start being you. Because, in my experience, the only way you can make it through The Courage Moment, is if you summon up the courage to finally be yourself.
The World’s Courage Moment
I see the protests rising up all across the world, and I become very excited for humanity.
Don’t get me wrong: the challenges we face are very sobering, serious, and real. (There’s definitely nothing exciting about poverty, for instance.)
But the way I see it, is it’s as if most of humanity is facing its own Courage Moment right now. Everything that had held us up before, is now being slowly stripped away—and it’s as if everyone in the world is finally awakening to the truth: that we cannot possibly move forward anymore unless we finally become ourselves.
When I say “becoming ourselves,” I mean that we need to stop being passive, when a burning inside of us is telling us that we ought to be active. Becoming more of ourselves means speaking up, when before we might have just went with the flow, and not rocked the boat. Becoming more of ourselves means not being afraid to claim and state who you are and what it is you want and what it is you stand for and what you believe is just and right—in front of everybody, regardless of the consequences.
Being yourself means, most of all, to cry to the sky and tell the world:
“Hey, I’m here. I matter. Don’t hold me back, don’t hold me down, don’t cheat me, don’t ignore me, don’t disrespect me, and don’t you dare take me for granted. Because there’s something I’ve been brought into this world to do, something I am meant to contribute. And here it is.”
Being yourself also means that you’re okay with throwing out what isn’t working, and confronting that which is causing you damage.
And that, as you can see, is why so many people are afraid to be themselves. Because throwing out what doesn’t work, and confronting that which has been poisoning you, is truly scary.
It is true that the scariest thing about The Courage Moment is realizing that everything that worked in the past is not going to work anymore; but the best thing about The Courage Moment is realizing that there’s still one thing left to do to overcome your greatest challenge: create.
Create a new you.
Create a new world.
Create what you want the future to look like, by taking a small, bold step today towards that vision.
Although the courage moment may not happen to all of us, it does happen. And it’s there for a reason, and what I am also finding is that within that courage moment, there is hiding the greatest gift life could ever give to you.
If only we could withhold our criticism, our panic, our despair, our tears, and our anger for just a brief moment, and inhale—we might see that in that empty space, something bright is blossoming straight out of the ash.
[Editor’s note: this post originally featured the song “Paper Tiger” by Sean Fournier.]
If you’re going through your own courage moment right now, what small step can you take to be more of yourself today? If you’ve past through your own courage moment already, what did it teach you? Please share your wisdom with us in the comments below!
To follow the Courage 2 Create and find out what happens to Ollin and his novel, you can subscribe by inserting your e-mail into the subscription box in the top right corner of the sidebar! Subscription is completely free! Thank you for subscribing!