“What does ‘brave’ mean?” my six-year-old son asked.
I dodged the question. “What do you think it means?”
“I don’t know. What is it?”
Ryan asked this question after singing along (loudly) to “Brave” performed by Sara Bareilles. It’s a song I first discovered in connection with my writing. My favorite UCLA Extension Writer’s Program instructor had written on her blog about the bravery that is required for writers to write honestly. I listened to the song and realized I liked it -- its sound and its message.
My son was waiting for an answer, and I wasn’t sure how to give him one. Bravery is one of those concepts like “love” -- we know it when we experience it, but articulating what it means isn’t always easy.
I took a minute and thought about my answer. And I remembered -- this was the first song that played in my car as I drove myself to the writing retreat in Lake Arrowhead back in May.
So I told Ryan that being brave means there might be something that you thought was too hard or too scary or something that you just couldn’t do, but if you’re brave, you try to do it anyway.
He was satisfied with my answer and went to the next song on his playlist.
I think it’s only fairly recently that I’ve begun to acknowledge bravery through my simplistic definition. I used to think bravery required grand actions -- firefighters rushing into burning buildings and astronauts landing on the moon. Those individuals certainly are brave, but bravery isn’t limited to them.
Being brave is necessary in true writing, and true living.
Readers, if you’re interested, the following YouTube video plays “Brave” performed by Sara Bareilles and includes the song’s lyrics.