Of course, there are different kinds of bravery and hopefully we are all at least one kind of brave, but think about it generally and ask yourself, how brave are you? I had that question answered for me one night a few years ago. I was watching a television show about Aron Ralston, the rock climber who was hiking through a slot canyon in Utah and a huge boulder rolled on him and pinned his right hand between the rock and the wall of the canyon. He was stuck there for 6 days, with very little water and almost no food, and eventually he had to be brave enough to cut off his hand with his dull pocket knife.
I was watching this and asking myself if I could do it. Could I really go through with that if it meant saving my life? "Of course!" I answered myself, "and I wouldn't wait six days to do it!" That's what I was smugly telling myself from my comfy couch when out of the corner of my eye I saw something move. I thought it was a mouse. (I'm not afraid of mice.) I looked at it and it wasn't a mouse. It was a soot covered bat that was slowly and disgustingly crawling on his wings in front of the fire place. I froze. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. I tried to call Mitch, but only air was coming out of my mouth. Finally I was able to squeak out a yell, "HELP!" The bat heard me and changed his course and started crawling toward me. I was so scared I don't know how I kept from peeing my pants. Mitch called down the stairs to see what was wrong, and I was once again rendered speechless because I didn't want to give the bat any more information about where exactly I was sitting. Mitch ran down the stairs to see what was wrong, saw the bat and said, "Oh geez," like he was somehow disappointed that I was only being stalked by a single (probably rabid) bat and not being attacked by a pack of wolves.
At this point I found my voice and was yelling, "Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Get it! Please! Get it!" I still couldn't move. I was paralyzed. Mitch ran back up the stairs and then came back down with a paper plate in each hand. I had to laugh. What was he going to do with them? If he grabbed it with two paper plates, his thumbs would still be inside with the bat. YUCK! So he walked toward, me, took off the blanket I was cowering under, threw it over the bat, scooped it up and flung it outside.
Well, that was humbling. The show about Aron Ralston was still on and I was ashamed and embarrassed that not five minutes before I was thinking I was brave enough to amputate a limb without six days of agonizing over it. If Mitch hadn't been there to get the bat, I'm afraid my solution to the bat problem would have been to gather the children and get a hotel room. I'm not very brave when it comes to bats.
I'm not so smug about how brave I am about cutting off portions of my body anymore. It would be a hard decision, unless there were bats in the canyon, then I would have chewed my arm off the first night and ran home.
So, what's the bravest (or most cowardly) thing you've ever done?