(Crazy) Courage. No Matter What.

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I have friends getting married this weekend. Theirs is a powerful love story, and I’ve been churning the question of what makes it so.

What makes a love story one you can’t forget?

It’s common to think that an element of tragedy is what makes a love story unforgettable. This is somewhat true. But the first word that came to my mind was, “Courage.”

Courage is what makes a love story unforgettable. Courage means your heart has a goal, and nothing else can matter more than that. It’s more like crazy courage.

Mark Twain said it best when he said courage is not the absence of fear. It is mastery over fear. It is feeling terrified and still knowing what your soul tells you is your destiny and not turning off that message.

No matter what.

No matter if the love you have for your soul mate threatens to demolish everything else you think you know.

No matter if you could lose a job, or friends, or the acceptance of family.

No matter if no one wants to help you.

No matter.

When two people join their lives, for better or worse, for this thing or that thing, it is courageous. This world can sling some terrible challenges at us.

And no one has to get married anymore. It is a choice, a choice to make a very public commitment to be the very best version of yourself you know how to be because the person you love deserves no less.

And you both feel that way, it’s not that you are more perfect than you were before you were married. Not at all. We may be less perfect the minute we say we are going to try this hard.

Except maybe not.

Except though we may not be perfect in that moment, we will have hundreds of thousands of opportunities to be something better than perfect.

We will have the chance to be courageous. Over and over again.

Courage is asking for forgiveness.

Courage is granting forgiveness.

Courage is going to work so you can come home. It’s having a child together. It’s being willing to fail. It’s growing old with someone. It’s setting off into the Great Unknown, also known as tomorrow, holding your love’s hand and not letting go. Ever.

Nancy and Jane, what you have been denied up until this year could arguably be termed a tragedy. But that is so not the end of the story. The best love stories don’t end. A new phase of your story is just beginning.

Thank you for letting me tag along.

I love you.

Welcome to Married Life. We’ve been waiting for you.

Fiction in the Space Between

Do you write to draw conclusions, or do you write to tell stories that let others draw their own conclusions?

After all my years of putting words on paper, I realize I’m only just now learning to let the story speak for itself.  My background is in analytical writing based on research, and in making a case based on evidence.

Our band of essayists on a West Virginia childhood is getting ready for phase one of the writing process, and I find myself thinking more each day about the beauty and value in just telling a story.

Telling a story is not a simple thing.  There are layers of complexity in even the most straightforward tale.  Every few years I become obsessive about listening to this song over and over again, Telling Stories.  What do you leave in?  What do you leave out?  Where is it acceptable to make the story the one you need instead of the one that happened?  And can we really ever know “the one that happened”?  There may be no such thing.

It has always been an omen for me, my recurring attraction to this song.  Tracy Chapman manages to take very few words and weave a spell of the fragile balance between the lies we need, and the truths we fear, and where it all intersects in a human life and in human relationships.  If you don’t know the song, I urge you to learn it.  It’s a lovely piece of music with lyrics that walk you right on the edge of being lulled into comfort before it delivers a rather frightening and questionable suggestion.

My wish for our essays on childhood is that we be willing to walk that line in courage and anticipation of some great stories to tell.