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Thursday, June 07, 2012


He told me that I was one of the most Courageous men he had ever known.

I looked him in the eyes and tried to hide the Fear that he might somehow see how very Afraid I am, most times.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"Because I have never known a man who would put Himself out there, over and over again, for Someone - knowing not only that it will End, but that it would End Painfully."

I looked to the ground, fought off a little Sadness, and thought about what He had said.

Suddenly, a small smile slipped out of the corner of my mouth and I said, "Oh, there was no Courage in That. It was the least I could do, for Her.  There were many Times when she put Herself out there, to me, over and over again."

With an astonished look on his face, his eyes grew bigger, and he said, much louder, "Dude. You traveled across the country for a simple Hope that you might save Something that was Lost. You took planes, trains, and rental cars thousands of miles - knowing your Heart would simply get crushed, yet again - just so that you could look into her eyes when She told you that She had lost the Will to go on with you and still couldn't find any Words for you.  She wouldn't have done the same for you.  She didn't even Welcome you. What you did - overcoming not just your Fears, but her Fears, too - that took some real Courage."

I was shocked. For a moment, I looked back to the ground, until I found my response, "I was simply returning Something to where I had found it - and to its rightful owner. And, that trip was for Me, also. I didn't want to carry any Regret that I hadn't tried everything in my power to try and save any Love that remained - or a possible Future with Her. We, once upon a time, deserved that.  I think that making that effort was simply out of Respect for the way that She once loved me.  But, mostly, it was for me - to sit with her and know... to feel... that what She once carried for me was gone - and it was. I traveled all that way and only found a ghost of Her. There was no Trust or Openness or Willingness or Warmth or Affection or Hope for me in her Eyes or her Smile anymore - and if there was, it was forced.  The only Thing left in her Heart for me was an Apology for having let me go.  But, she believes that the only way she can be Happy is to move on without me.  I can't say I agree.  That said, I can say I understood why she would draw that Conclusion. What I found, there, was a Simple Truth: The Woman that I have loved doesn't live There, anymore - she lives in My Memories.  So, I accepted her Apology and gave her the only thing I could give her - my Absence. Now, I don't think there was any Courage in Confirming that, Accepting that, or Giving that.  I guess we all define Forever a bit differently and we all fight for Love differently. I certainly was no Saint through all of this.  But, It is what it Is. I'm not sure that facing That Reality took any Courage."

He smiled with Kindness, looked at me, unconvinced, and added, "You still don't see how Strong you are, do you? That took some real Heart. That was pretty Brave."

Then, the Sadness returned stronger than before and held me as I began, again, "Did you ever see what Ground Zero looked like after the Twin Towers collapsed? Did you ever look down into those vast, pitted city blocks of Deep Emptiness and all the remnants of rubble that were surrounded by Still Towering Giants that remained standing?" I asked him.

"Yes," he said, "Our company has an office in New York City, I've seen Ground Zero dozens of times over the past few years."

Then, I continued, "Then, you will understand when I tell you that If I have, now, or ever have had any real Courage in any of This it is simply that I make it through every day, since, and continue on, trying to Rebuild, knowing I wasn't my Best. What would have taken real Courage would have been to fully embrace the Love she once had for me - before She let it go.  The only real Courage I know, now, is that I find the strength, dozens of times each day, to look down into my own Deep Emptiness and try to find New Ways to fill those Empty Spaces Where We Once Stood Together (taller and prouder than the Others), with Something or Anything from my own Heart, so that I might one day Be my Best."

I paused for a moment, thought a little more while I tried to organize the few, jumbled words that I could still find, and continued, "While facing Her that last time was one of the most Horribly Painful and Truly Sad moments in my life, it was most definitely one of the most Wonderfully Beautiful moments, also. To this day, the Thought of Her still takes my breath away - it just takes my breath away in a different Way and for different Reasons."

He still looked confused. Then, he shook his head and told me, "You both Loved each other the best you could - for as long as you could - given the Distance and Circumstances. It's just that you can't really Honor and Love someone while you're thousands of miles away for years at a time. It's Distance and Circumstance that doomed this - not your Heart.  It took a lot, from both of you, to make that work as long as you both made it work."

So, I finished my argument, with fewer Words, "My point is simply This: Putting myself out there to Her and Loving Her never ever took any Courage. That was just having Hope. Fighting to hold onto whatever Love there may have been left never took any Courage. That was just trying to give Hope. But, moving on without any Hope of having Her by my side - and learning to honor myself without Her showing me The Way- I think that's the only real Courage I know."

He smiled and simply said, "I think that, maybe, we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I would have never put myself out there in the first place. Then, knowing that She wanted it to End, I would have never kept trying.  And even then, if Things had to end, I would have never been able to give things the Kindness and Dignity that you gave by going all the way out there.  Perhaps, you should consider this possibility: Having Hope takes Courage.  Either way, I stand by what I first said, 'You are one of the most Courageous men I've ever known.'"

I smiled and silently agreed to simply disagree - which is always my first instinct in Matters of the Heart.

So, we ordered some Sushi and sipped on our Sake and talked about some Simpler Things in Life that required little or no Courage - like singing Karaoke, learning to play the Guitar, the Perils of Paddle Boarding, choosing a favorite flavor of Protein Shakes, and trying to make the World a Better Place.

But, all the while, I think we were both strongly considering the very real possibility that maybe, just maybe, we were both Right.

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