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The Courage to Live, Fear, and Dream Anyway

I am slowly reading bits and pieces of a book called “Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion”  (thus why his quotes are ever-present in my recent entries).  I am enjoying it within the cracks of my larger moments with my family—Paul (my husband), four-year old Oliver, and two-year old Lucy.  It’s quick inspiration.

I came across a series of quotes by him that I love and that illuminate what I am learning in life:

“Follow your bliss.
The heroic life is living the individual adventure.
There is no security
in following the call to adventure.
Nothing is exciting
if you know
what the outcome is going to be.
To refuse the call
means stagnation…”

Sometimes it is so scary to live and not know what lies ahead.  It’s scary to love so much and know that we will not live forever, that all of these moments with our family and friends are quickly becoming memories.  Sometimes it feels so vulnerable just living and hoping and dreaming and loving.

But what can we do but live and hope and dream and love and have faith in it all?

We have to live.  We don’t know anything else.  And since we are living, why not just risk hoping and dreaming and loving and falling and failing and getting back up and doing it over and over again?

Life is a blessed adventure—and an adventure with potential for terrible pain.
I have a lot of fears, some new, and some old.  Since becoming a mother, I gave birth to a very powerful fear—the fear of something happening to someone in my family or something happening to me and missing out on the lives of those I love.  It’s because of this fear that I am moved to understand it, to work through it, and to let it go.  I’m not there yet, but I’m learning.  I call it The Risk of Loving.

I have other fears that are more abstract: Fear that I will not realize my full potential, that I am lazy or incapable or not as good.  Fear that I will not find my way.  What “way” is that?  I don’t know.  This I call the Risk of Living.

To go along with courage and faith and hope and live this life as best as we can really is a heroic journey.  We cannot hide from our fears nor should we hide from our dreams. We must risk loving and we must risk living.
Your journal is a record of this, your journey through it all.

Writing Exercise:

For five minutes, write down your fears, brain-dump style.  Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, and penmanship.  Don’t think.  Just write.

For the next five (or however long you wish) minutes, write down your deepest dreams and desires.  Be as specific as possible—think about what your dreams would look like materialized in your life.  How would your days be spent? They could have to do with where you want to live, what kind of people you surround yourself with, how you want to spend your days, or how you want to feel.  Feel the power of dreams, the energy you feel from simply writing them down and thinking about them.

When you are finished, look at your list of fears.  Circle the ones that have come to be.  Notice how few of them are circled, how many of them are simply questions that have to be lived.  Know them, have compassion for yourself, and then try to let them go and live within a space of gratitude.  This is not easy.

This is an exercise of writing through your fears and into your dreams.

In looking back on my journals over the years, I am still amazed by how the words of my deepest hopes and dreams seem to evaporate into the Universe and grow and gain energy, and come back materializing in my life in clever and profound ways.

Enjoy the writing.  Enjoy life right now, as it is, as you are.

Janna Brayman Krawczyk is a writer and a teacher.  She has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Teaching from Hamline University.  She has been writing in a journal for over half of her life and has finally accepted that life is not easy, yet our struggles and obstacles are what inspire insight and wisdom.  For this reason, she must write as a way to understand herself and her life, stay sane, and dream big dreams.  She feels blessed to share this healing and illuminating practice with as many people as possible in her lifetime…

  1. Hi Yanna,
    I am interested in your blog. thanks for putting it out there. I also have the fears, but also I have hope. Here is a new one from me.
    When Baby Sleeps * with a nod to T.R. Hummer “Where You go When She Sleeps” When baby sleeps, her bright head nodding on your shoulder, her hair gently tickling your neck and chin with downy feathers, her breath quick, then slow – a gentle in and out of a silent summer’s eve, her baby sweat like dew on dawn’s meadow rises,
    filling your nostrils with its sweet smell of almost-sour milk, baby oil and
    something else -a something you cannot name that lulls
    you into a stream of fresh cool water where you are pulled down deep into its cool welcome depths past the surface currents and undertow, past sense and reason. You dive deeper to the solid rock bottom where your love is so fierce it grips you in its ancient crocodile mouth and holds you in iron teeth until your breath is gone and your body is stone-cold rigid – with the tender all encompassing love for your child that never lets go. You touch that unnamable smell of your baby and you are gone into what is not life or death,
    but a universe of knowing and longing
    a timeless energy of love and yearning that connects you to all the mothers that ever were – and you glory in the perfect satisfaction of holding your dreaming child.

    I hope you liked it. =) Annette

    • Did you write that? It’s beautiful and so relevant to what I’m feeling right now about Motherhood. It’s this open wound, so blessed, so lucky, yet so painful to love so much and constantly have to let go. This passage you wrote really resonates with me–thank you for sending it.


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