–by Julia Butterfly Hill (Oct 12, 2012)
When you are facing fear, violence, oppression, or are overwhelmed, yet you manage to go forward with love anyway – that’s courage.
Courage isn’t something we are magically given. It is a choice we make. Courage is something we can only experience in the moment, in action, and through moving forward.
We live in a society where, when we are fearful, we’re given all these ways of running from it, pretending it’s not there, or numbing down. We are offered pills, shopping, and TV to be an antidote to our fear and an attempt to mask it.
So often, after people learn about the Luna treesit, they come up to me and say they admire my courage. Often they follow that up by asking weren’t you afraid? And I tell them “all the time!” That’s where the gem of courage is hidden… in the place where we’re afraid but we take action anyway.
While I was living in Luna, my immediate response to fear was to quit and come down. But my love for the forest compelled me to stay, despite my fear.
At first, I told myself “if I have to stay in this tree, I will FIGHT my fear.” I was trying so hard to fight that my fists were clenched, my neck was clenched, even my hair was clenched! I was trying so hard to fight fear it was killing me.
Eventually, I learned the lesson: when fear arises, don’t fight it, don’t run from it and don’t pretend like you’re strong, but rather just dive into the fear. I held onto my love for the forest and for all life, and dove in.
The word courage comes from the Latin word “cor” or “heart.” One early interpretation of courage is being able to listen to and act from your heart without fear.
Finally, somewhere in between my love and my fear, I found courage. Once I stopped fighting the fear and learned to fully trust my heart, the right thoughts, the right words, the right actions, the right people, the right tools and resources all began to show up.
When working with our own fear, it is important to remember that we have a huge capacity to love all that is, was, and ever will be. Our hearts are bigger than we know or have experienced. It is in the place of embracing fear while expanding our capacity to love, that we discover our courage.
— Julia Butterfly Hill