Courage is the mastery of fear, not the absence of fear.

Feel the fear & do it anyway.

I’m not thinking of courage to go into war, or fighting aliens, or some monster being that is about to destroy the world. No, that isn’t the courage I’m talking about at all.

I’ve been watching my little “I’m-almost-4-years-old” daughter at very close quarters of late. In the last month or so, our relationship has taken on a depth I’ve never truly felt, except for the first couple of months of her life, after watching her be born.

I’ve been inspired by the courage she’s shown in doing things that sometimes terrify me. Like simply walking up to a person she’s seen & met for the first time, & saying thank you for letting her pet the horse. & then having a conversation about horses & their hair & her hair & dogs & whatnot.

I am beginning to understand what the phrase “Child is the father of man” means. Innocence, I think, is unadulterated. I’m beginning to think that the word – adulterated – refers to something spoiled by adults. But again I digress.

Fear is something we learn as we grow older – fear of people, fear of solitude, fear of poverty, fear of … the list can be longer / taller than Robert Wadlow.  Yet, as children, we’re unblemished – what we fear we have learnt from our surroundings – parents, peers, siblings. Fear is the external world’s way of control over something that is otherwise uncontrollable. & most of us fall for it.

Most I said. I will devote this week to look for & post stories that are in the news, of people who have summoned up the courage to do things – not necessarily earth-shattering or record-setting events, rather, of people who to me appear worthwhile emulating for their every-day courage.

Rights. or is it right?

I read an interesting article yesterday here, the results of a poll that suggests that over 80% of the 27000 people who were part of the survey from all over the globe, suggest that the Net is a “Fundamental Right”.

My idea of fundamental rights was a list of some words that you had to memorize, & be able to recite to pass your school exams. I can’t remember one fundamental right or duty enshrined in the Indian Constitution. Or any other country’s constitution for that matter.

I began to think as I write this if I know what I hold to be my own fundamental rights, my private Constitution. I struggle with the  thought, but here’s a feeble attempt:

  1. Right to decide what to do with my life & discover my own destiny.
  2. Right to enjoy life & all that it has to offer
  3. Right to learn more about anything that catches my fancy.
  4. Right to my personal beliefs, & to change them.

This list is by no means comprehensive, & is something I have consciously set out to discover. I realize that these Rights also come with Duties or Action.

My personal role model, Ben Franklin had a list of 13 virtues he attempted to live is life by (you can read about them here), which he had a very interesting way of tracking. In his autobiography, he mentions how he would try to live each one of them for one week. Over the course of 52 weeks, he would have tried (& his achievements & life tells us he mostly succeeded) each one of them four times, he also tells us he tracked his results very diligently for quite a long period. (Reminds me to read the book once again, I don’t seem to recollect some important details!)


It was a warm day.

The air was thick & sticky, like a bowl of porridge.

The train was packed with people heading back home. Some kept fanning themselves to cool down. Others tried to get busy with their books or iPods or computers. Minds were feeling as dull as the heat that numbed it.

Then suddenly came the staccato of machine gun fire. Jerked into action. Those unfortunate enough to be seated at the windows ducked for cover. Everyone else did too, not wanting to get a stray bullet in their ear.

The firing continued. People peering from their hiding places. Nearly everyone had ducked. Most were safe.

Most, except one young, bearded fellow. Had dark glasses on. Well dressed. Polished shoes. Head leaned against the window. Unmoving.  Was he hurt? Did he get the gunfire? Where is he hurt? Do we need to pull the chain & stop  the train?

& then came the sound again. Louder this time. The silence in the train car was deafening. Were they following someone? Everyone was looking out the window, trying to identify where the tanks & guns were.

Attention went back to the young fellow. He was breathing. Deeply & regularly.

Sleep is a wonderful drug. Snoring isn’t!