Be a lion, not a mouse. If I only had da nerve. Let’s talk courage.
A huge fan of the The Wizard of Oz all my life (the books, mostly, but who doesn’t love Judy Garland with braids and a gingam dress?) I loved the colorful characters and fanciful tales. The books came alive. All except the Cowardly Lion. His character and what he stands for in all of us, did not resonate with me as a child. His songs were my least favorite in the movie and I just could not understand his plight.
Sadly, now his cowardice hits all too close to home. The lion stood in his own way, believing deeply in his cowardice and failing to notice that he had everything he needed within him. He is not afraid of death, but of life. He is afraid of his own ROAR, his own greatness. I talk myself out of opportunities on a daily basis. I find excuses not to do what I know I want to because I might fail. I stay in bed all day and sabotage my productivity. I let my Cowardly Lion speak through me instead of finding my courage.
How many times have you jumped at the sight of your own shortcomings? How many times have you not made a phone call or applied for a job because you felt unqualified. All of us have a “I could/would do that if…” list somewhere in the back of our mind. Maybe some of us have written it down. We continue to feed our Cowardly Lion. We continue to fear our greatness.
Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love says:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
We have the power to be great, once we step out of our own way. We can deny the Cowardly Lion his food. We can go out into the world and do what we want to do, regardless of the very real obstacles we might face. People do this everyday. Yoga teacher and paraplegic Matthew Sanford says in a Yoga Journal interview:
You cannot overcome your life.
What he means is, there are circumstances we cannot change, but we have a lot of wiggle room. He did not overcome his disability. Instead he found a way to work with it, he had the courage to go for what he wanted. He could have looked at yoga as out of his realm of possibility. He could have sung his lion’s song of “if only’s”. He didn’t.
I have a friend, Sam, who grew up with a stutter. Recently, an article she wrote on the topic was featured on xojane.com. Having a stutter can cause fear in any situation where you are forced to speak. Add to this that many people don’t understand stuttering and are often ridiculed, the fear can turn to panic and problems with self-esteem. Through the American Institute for Stuttering, her supportive family and her own kick-ass personality, she was able to work with, not overcome, her difference. She still stutters today, but she says
What I learned from the start, from that first day at the American Institute, is to feel the fear, and do it anyway.
Many of us face huge challenges in our everyday life. There is dis-ease everywhere. We may not be able to overcome it. The best we can do is have the courage to keep going anyway. Each time we get on our mat we can open our hearts to courage. Try a pose that you fear (only if there is no physical injury preventing you from such). Kick up to handstand. Tip forward in crow. Fall over. The lion later sings “If I Were King of the Forest.” There is no if, we are all kings of this forest we call life. Get out there and ROAR!!!!