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I recently had the immense pleasure of meeting the fantasy author Alan Garner. His book The Weirdstone of Brisingamen inspired countless authors over the years. Myself included.
I’m currently enjoying reading it and deliberately making the time and space available to enjoy it in comfort.
There’s a wonderful section through the middle phase of the story where our two young heroes, Colin and Susan, find themselves deep in a copper mine in the company of a couple of dwarves. It’s a difficult period for the two children and the author beautifully describes a claustrophobic and uncomfortable experience. Both are naturally scared witless.
But there’s a wonderful passage of dialogue between Colin and one of the dwarfs, (Durathror, I think), where Durathror tells Colin that he admires his bravery and courage.
Colin naturally disagrees and tells the battle-hardened dwarf that he, surely, is courageous.
But Durathror tells him that courage is merely fear mastered and that he is extremely afraid. Which naturally surprises the young adventurer.
Durathror’s point is that he is most courageous in battle. When it’s him, his sword and the enemy he has no fear, just belief. But when faced with the unknown, as they are at that point in the story – wandering through cramped and dark caves and passages, he has no courage. Just fear. Fear of the unknown, what may be around the next corner.
This I found illuminating.
Controlling fear to the point of mastering it is hard. It’s very much a challenge.
As a disabled guy I’m constantly facing new challenges.
Today I bought two theatre tickets for myself and my daughter. The only tickets I could secure were four rows back up a flight of steps. I hate steps. I just can’t do them without a significant struggle. My initial reaction is to be afraid. Courage hasn’t even registered with me, yet.
So I now have three weeks to control my fear and attain some courage.
How I do that, I’m not sure. But do it I will.