The good news is that my novel is undergoing a revision. The other good news is that there is a lot that I am keeping.
The patient will retain most of her vital organs in this home surgery, but some long-term festering ulcers of lameness will be removed, and certain systems will have to be rearranged as a result. It's a procedure, an ECTOMY, with some resulting lateral alterations.
There will also be new organs added, which should give her more pep.
As the patient sits, noticeable white, on the table next to me, it occurs to me that to begin this surgery takes a lot of courage. And so does every other damn thing worth doing in life.
Backtalker inside my head says, "Not the dishes. The dishes are worth doing, but don't take courage."
Actually, they do. Because to have to do the dishes implies that you are not living alone, as anyone in their right mind would never wash a single plate if no one was looking.
Dishes-doing is part of the responsibility-spectrum of tasks associated with living in a community, even if it is just a community of two. And living with others takes courage, because it is making a promise that you will endure the company of others, and make yourself endurable, that you will take hold of the rope of cooperation and not let it drop, that you will be human and humane to a degree that you wouldn't need to if living alone.
But beyond dishes and revisions, I thought of this..what is worth doing that doesn't scare us? Relationships, marriage, yes. Scary and worth it. Having children? Scary certainly, and worth it. Art, yes. Social justice, yes. Speaking up, speaking out, yes. Providing help and aid to those in need? Even this can be scary, can take courage, and in many cases, takes a lot of courage. And is worth it.
All these precious acts and processes take courage, which can be in short supply. I often feel I'd rather clothe myself in familiar comforts than feel the chill of the new. But though it is a sad fact that I am no mathematician, the problem can be stated in terms of a Cost/Benefit analysis.
What does it cost us to take a risk? To try the new, over the old? To summon up our courage and leap? The fear of failure sits like an attentive and vicious dog, waiting for its cue to bite. So that is the cost.
What do we gain from risk? To leave the warm living room of Same and enter to cold basement of Different? Simply this: we gain the very thing that it takes to try: Courage. By exposing ourselves we learn that we are capable of much, including great acts of courage. Our very idea and notion of ourselves grows with new acts and risks. With practice, it may not take so much to leap each time we come to the brink.
But I will posit there is another cost. This is the cost of safety, of sameness, of the familiar. Without the courage to take risk, we are dulled and lulled. Our idea and concept of ourselves shrinks. It is this cost which is so deadly.
The third option, obviously, is to write about courage until you have enough of it to begin your task, to take your act.
Sometimes these things take a little warming up to. I think I'm ready now.