Every day since waking up in the hospital I’ve wanted to die, but watching that man sink below the waves, I feel something inside me rise up. A Dragon doesn’t surrender. A Dragon fights fate. This is not some loud, roaring feeling. It feels more like someone blew on an ember and found a slight orange glow. I have to hang on to my life—however ruined and useless. Mama’s voice comes floating to me, reciting one of her favorite sayings, “There is no catastrophe except death; one cannot be poorer than a beggar.” I want—need—to do something braver and finer than dying.
―Lisa See,Shanghai Girls
Not enough youths fighting windmills. And the old are fearful, jaded or dead. Do not ask me what to do. I am just as cowardly as you. And do not tell me it is enough to speak the truth; that it is bravery enough. Every mountain leveled to the ground, every forest burned, every man, woman, and child who lost their shanties to arsonist fires were defended to the heavens—with words.
There is little faith involved in setting out on a journey where the destination is certain and every step in between has been mapped in detail. Bravery, trust, is about leaving camp in the dark, when we do not know the route ahead and cannot be certain we will ever return.
Seeing a pattern doesn’t mean you know how to pull it all together. Take baby steps: don’t focus on the folks whose skills are far beyond your own. When you’re new to something-or you haven’t tried it in awhile- it can feel impossibly hard to get it right. Every misstep feels like a reason to quit. You envy everyone else who seems to know what they’re doing. What keeps you going? The belief that one day you’ll also be like that: Elegant. Capable. Confident. Experienced. And you can be. All you need now is enthusiasm. A little bravery. And–always–a sense of humor.
How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants our love.
So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.