I used to think being brave meant you were immune to pain. Or maybe not immunebut far too strong to regard it. Far too powerful to let it get in your way. I believed that the strong were walls of rock, and pain was just waves crashing into them. Liquid against solid. You will not pass here.
But I misunderstood.The strong may be walls of rock, but rock is not immune to water. Over time, water erodes the thickest of walls. It beats relentlessly. It doesn’t tire. The time between the waves lessens and lessens until they’re rapid-fire surges. When they finally calm, they leave for just long enough that you allow yourself to be fooled. For just long enough to believe they might actually be gone for good. And then they return. And now it’s harder. Harder because you grew accustomed to serenity. More painful because you learned tranquility. Dangerous because now you know the taste of peace.
This was the mistake. Believing that the brave, that the most courageous in the world, don’t hurt. That after wave after wave of pain, fissures haven’t formed. That drops haven’t seeped through the crevices of the stone and formed pools within. That the pools don’t awake when new waves hit, that they don’t attack from the inside, that water doesn’t force itself through the wall and over the wall and against the wall… that the wall is so strong it doesn’t feel the water.
But the brave aren’t strong because they don’t feel pain. They’re strong because they have.
A rock without fissures cannot be brave, for it has no story to tell. It doesn’t know that it can survive. This is bravery. Surviving despite erosion. Fighting even after the pain has spread within you, all over you. Wearing your pain like battle scars, as reminders of how far you’ve come. Surging forward while wounded, continuing and trusting and believing… even after your stone wall is ridden with tales of defeat.