I never thought about the dangers of bravery until I heard Kyle Steed, artist, and muralist, give a presentation about his work and the resistance one of his murals received. When telling people to live brave, I ask them to leave where they are, to change, and you and I know that change can be hard. It requires work, perseverance, humility, and self-discipline. It also challenges current notions of identity, ways of thinking and firmly held beliefs. That is what Kyle's artwork encountered painted on a public space in Fort Worth.
Should then the artist, in my case, the writer, or the singer not ask? Not ask you and I, the receiver, to change, to be more, to leave established comfort zones? Of course not. Asking introduces new ways of thinking, and it produces ideas and innovation. It also makes us a more inclusive society. I'm sure Jonathan Haidt is shaking his head because, yes, sometimes "diversity can be divisive," but we should still try to move closer to communal oneness (click here to listen to Jonathan's interview with Krista Tippett on On Being).
Asking my readers and those who show up to my book tour to be brave is asking them to be who they know they can be. At least that was the case in the story I heard from an older gentleman today named Lonzo. I'm sure Alonzo had no idea what he was getting into when he sat at the small circular table positioned directly behind my book signing set up. But what he received was two millennials, my husband and I, who love to engage strangers and encourage those who have turned their backs on their dreams for whatever reasons. Lonzo wants to be a singer. He has had the dream since he was young, and now as an old man, he sings in his Baptist Church's choir. But Lonzo wants more. He wants to create a life and provide for his wife with his vision. Lonzo merely is too "afraid" to go for it. After an hour of corralling, encouraging, and strategizing with Alonzo about the potential technology, especially Youtube held for him, he smiled and thanked us for the uplifting conversation. Who knows, we may have given Lonzo exactly when he needed.
The dangers of living brave are this, today you occupy a space in the world but you, like Alonzo, want more. More cannot be found in your comfort zone; it cannot be found in the habits of your today, it cannot be achieved through good intentions, it takes action. It takes an artist like Kyle, writers, poets, filmmakers, and teachers to challenge, ask, and reveal the flaws and potential. But you must be willing to look at that which disturbs, that which calls out, that which stirs you.
Engage that which disturbs.