This was originally published on September 7, 2012. It’s a personal post on strength, love and courage.
Maya Angelou once said that courage is the most important virtue, because without it, we wouldn’t be able to consistently practice the others. I’ve always agreed with that, because it can be hard to be kind. It can be hard to be forgiving, hard to summon the love sometimes.
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown reminded us that the root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. I’ve thought about that a lot, about how courage is really something that goes deeper and beyond bravery, waving a sword around on a battlefield or something like that. Courage is heart-based. And heart based means it’s central to who we fundamentally are, central to our physical and spiritual lives. You can live without your brain. You can’t live without your heart.
Love, to me, seems like blood. It’s the blood that keeps the system working. It’s the energy behind movement, the Force from Star Wars, it’s the link between the brain and heart, the connection between us all on the deepest level possible.
I’ve thought about this a lot, as choosing to keep my daughter after an amniocentesis revealed she would be coming with Down syndrome, was difficult. I am pro-choice, and I have disabilities: I know how hard it can be to navigate a world that wasn’t built for you. I didn’t know if choosing to bring her into the world was the right thing to do.
And I was scared.
I’ve been scared, so scared.
Scared to have her. Scared to mess up. Scared to make the wrong choices and alter someone else’s life in radical, negative ways. Scared of not being able to hear, of my neurodivergence and how my disabilities might make parenting even more difficult. Scared of being unable to provide for my family. Scared of poverty. Scared of bad things happening to my child, to my children.
Lao Tzu said that being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.
The love that my kids have blessed me with has been the mojo – the moxie! – that I’ve sustained myself when I’m too tired, too weak, when my brain feels paralyzed or whatever I am going through. Their love quite literally, as Lao Tzu says, gives me strength.
My love for them comes from my heart, the source of courage.
It’s an interesting thing to feel this subtle difference between the strength received from being loved by them, and the courage I am able to pull up through dint of my love for them.
Read more in my book, the first 4 Years with Moxie –
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.