Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Uncommon Valour

Love this dainty leaf ghost.

Plutarch, Sir Walter Scott, Emerson, Ovid, Shakespeare ... a whole bunch of folks have had something to say about valour. Here's a quote that resonates: "Valour is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul." -Michel de Montaigne.

I also like this one: "True valor lies between cowardice and rashness." --Miguel de Cervantes.


Carl Sandburg believed that valour is a gift, that you can never know if you're up to the task until the crisis is at hand, and once practiced, you can never know if you'll be able to access it a second time. That's interesting, too.

It's coming to me that valour is one of the great ideals, that its manifestation is rare and precious. Valour is well worth thinking about, striving towards, yes. But expectations around having access to valour at all times is probably more about hubris than reality. We humans can imagine perfection; it's a blessing and a curse, isn't it? Once imagined, we yearn for the perfections. Perfect valour, perfect love and perfect trust (as we used to say in Reclaiming). We yearn for Pythagorean perfections of all stripes. We homo sapiens are so ambitious!

For this morning at least, I'm assigning valour to the same constellation of idealized human qualities as true forgiveness, unconditional love, and unflinching compassion. The ideal qualities have always seemed, to me at least, like gifts, divinely bestowed. Or, depending on the structure of your personal cosmology, you could say that these ideal qualities are forces of nature over which we have no control.

Of course we humans have to do our bit, we have to work towards the ideals, oh yeah. We must practice compassion, we must release grudges, resentments and judgments whenever we can. We really have to learn how to open our minds and hearts, try to learn (every single day) something we don't already know. These practices put us in a better space to receive the divine gift, but there are no guarantees that no matter how hard we try, we will succeed in these endeavors. Nope. At least that's how it seems according to the cosmology of Reya.

My goals for today do not include achievement of perfect valour. I think I'll cut myself some slack and instead, set more modest goals: a nice bike ride, cooking something good for dinner, cleaning the chateau. Today I will talk to people I love, read wonder tales and blogs, breathe and pray, drink a lot of water.

Valour is a pretty hefty goal, eh? My plans for today seem a lot more right-sized. Yes? I say yes.

Salaam and Shalom, y'all. Onwards & upwards.


Reya Mellicker said...

Just read this on Miss Kim's blog. She writes from Albania - cool eh?

To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich;
to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart;
to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never;
in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common--this is my symphony.


ellen abbott said...

sounds like achievable goals for the day.

NanU said...

Uncommon photography, I say! how do you see these things?

The Bug said...

I like your goals for the day. I think I'll have similar ones, except that I have to be at work for a while.

Everton Terrace said...

What is the leaf ghost?
Your goals for today are much more attainable for me because the whole grudge thing is ridiculously hard for me. Haven't been able to conquer that one.
Really like the Channing quote, going to send it to my daughter this morning, it reminds me of her. Happy wonder tales Reya.

Merle Sneed said...

We like to think that life is lived in the extremes, valor certainly falls there. But, the truth is that we live life the fullest when we strive for perfection in the everyday.

Adrianne said...

How funny that you have a pic of the "House of Misrepresentatives" sign on your blog today -- Jeff just noticed it for the first time a couple days ago.

Linda Sue said...

To be strong and of value.Thanks for the Channing poem- printed it out and stuck it on the fridge of wisdom. No wonder I have no valor- I was confused, now what am I to do with this yardage of velour?

Reya Mellicker said...

The fridge of wisdom?? Wow.

Strive for perfection, but then forgive ourselves at the end of the day when perfection has not been attained, is that ok, Merle?

Nancy, how do I see these things? Please remember I am a baby boomer, therefore I am experienced as Jimi used to say, i.e. years of hallucinogenic intake tend to open the eye to the unusual.

But - thanks!

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh - leaf ghost - I don't know the exact chemistry but if there is a leaf on the pavement and it rains, sometimes something happens that leaves the fossil of the leaf on the sidewalk. I love them; they are sign that fall is on the way.

Tom said...

good to celebrate the little things, life is much sweeter when it's simpler. cool leaf pic. you've always got your eyes open, don't you?

Reya Mellicker said...

Tom, I do keep my eyes open. You know - you've walked around with me!

C.M. Jackson said...

love it!! you are moving it the right direction---onward! kudos!!