Don’t fence yourself in

Fence
Fence by Arnel courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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Bravery takes a lot of forms. To step up and put yourself forward to do something for your local community is brave, to defend someone who is being bullied when they are too beaten down to defend themselves is brave, to return to the hospital for your next bout of chemo even though you know you are going to spend the next twenty-four hours being sick is brave.

Some bravery is obvious to anyone looking on. Most bravery, however, is a subtle, very personal thing. The person silently coping with depression, the person moving slowly through the grieving process for someone dear to them, the single person battling loneliness. Getting up to face another day is an act of bravery for people like this, a supreme effort where the only satisfaction comes from challenging themselves and not giving in.

I try
I try I fail I never give up by Julie Jordan Scott courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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We all have different boundaries. What may seem easy to one person could be a mountain to climb for another. A while ago I was listening to a drive time show on my home. They had been running a call in for people to ring in with stories of a ‘first’ that they wished to achieve. The idea being the show would run a follow up in a couple of weeks’ time to see how they had all got on. There was one story that captured my attention.

A quietly spoken man rang in (an act of bravery in itself). I cannot recall now if he had been suffering from agoraphobia (a fear of open spaces) or something similar but the first he wished to achieve was catching the bus from the end of his road, riding the bus to his nearby town, getting off the bus and going to a café for a cup of tea and then making the journey home again.

There was something about his softly spoken but determined manner that made you listen. He told us how he had been practicing by walking up to the bus stop and then going home again, how he had studied the bus route so he would know which stop to get off at, how he had been rehearsing ordering his tea at the café. He then admitted the trip was something he had been trying to do for a while now and had always failed often getting to the bus stop but simply being unable to bring himself to board the bus.

But he had decided he couldn’t continue like this and needed to challenge his fears and by publicly declaring his intention it was almost a dare to himself. His story moved me and I thought about him often in the intervening two weeks, wondering how he was getting on. I pictured him clutching his timetable nervously, counting out his change to the driver, alighting at the café (or so I hoped).

Keep trying
Keep trying by Damian Gadal courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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I eagerly awaited an update. The radio show ran the follow up piece and covered many of the other ‘firsts’ but there was no mention of the man undertaking the bus journey. ‘Oh no!’ I thought ‘He’s failed to do it. How devastating for him.’ But I was wrong. Such had been the overwhelming interest in the man’s story, so many hearts had he touched with his modest tale, that they were giving him his own follow up slot the next day.

I tuned in and the man slowly began to recount what, for him, had been a momentous journey. He described his nervousness on the walk to the bus stop, his anxiety that the bus wouldn’t turn up or if it did he would not be able to summon up the courage to board it (as had happened so many times before). As a listener I lived and breathed every part of that journey with him. When he made it to the café and ordered his tea I was punching the air in triumph for him and when he laughed and said it was the best cup of tea he had ever drunk I had tears in my eyes.

Success
Fireworks by Jdmoar courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by Public Domain Mark 1.0

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It was a simple tale of one man’s struggle, one man’s sheer determination to overcome a barrier to him living the kind of life he wanted to lead but it touched a nerve with a lot of other people. He joked that his next goal was to go away on holiday. I hope he achieved that aim. I like to think he did.

There are enough boundaries put on our lives by circumstance, social convention or lifestyle. It’s so important that wherever possible we don’t let fear hold us back or fence us in. We mustn’t settle. We must be like that man on the bus and take our courage in our hands and be brave. He was glad he did it and we will be too.

Broken fencejpg
Trail view with broken fence by Buddha Dog courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes is available from Amazon now http://goo.gl/g4L7oY

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The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Don’t fence yourself in

  1. Jackie Ladbury 05/07/2016 / 7:42 am

    What a lovely post! Can’t imagine what it must be like to find it soo difficult just to get on a bus.x

    Like

    • ellieholmesauthor 05/07/2016 / 9:12 am

      I think that’s why it struck such a chord with everyone who was listening. The other ‘firsts’ were doing a parachute jump and things like that. Impressive, don’t get me wrong but there was something so moving about having such a modest aspiration and it touched so many people. It was also a good reminder not to judge other people by our own boundaries because theirs may be completely different.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ellieholmesauthor 05/07/2016 / 9:38 am

      Thank you for your kind comments and also for the nomination. What a lovely idea. I thoroughly enjoyed your post. I’ll let you know when my post goes up. Thanks again. Ellie x

      Like

  2. Andrea 10/07/2016 / 9:37 am

    That’s such a lovely story. It’s so easy to forget that sometimes, something that isn’t a huge deal to us, may be a massive deal to someone else. But it also shows us that by pushing ourselves to face our fears, we can open up new worlds and possibilities for ourselves…..as well as feel great about it. Thanks for sharing – very inspiring x

    Like

    • ellieholmesauthor 10/07/2016 / 9:52 am

      Happy to share – It’s such a moving story which is why so many of us were gripped by it. It’s also, as you say, a great reminder that we should push ourselves but also be wary of pushing others whose boundaries may be very different to our own. Thanks for commenting. Ellie x

      Like

  3. K E Garland 10/07/2016 / 10:28 pm

    Like many others, I found this to be a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it.

    Like

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