Sunday, January 22, 2006


My son had his debut performance today. He has been practicing a duet with our church's choir director for a couple of months now, and this morning was his first time to sing -- more or less by himself -- in front of an audience. He did a really good job! It was outstanding, the crowd was cheering, something that doesn't happen often in a church. He was very nervous, but came through it with flying colors.

Even more than a demonstration of my son's talent, though, it was a conquering of his fears. He gets stage fright in the extreme. Even as a small child, he never liked new situations or even anything even marginally outside of his comfort zone. That he was able to do this was a huge step for him. Everyone has phobias. Surprisingly enough, I have rather acute acrophobia. Yep, a pilot who's afraid of heights, go figure. In truth, heights themselves don't bother me, it's the insecure feeling that you might fall. If I'm in enclosed in an airplane, I have no problems at all. Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon on an incredibly windy day (and there are a lot of those up there), was a different story entirely. I did it solely because I refuse to let my phobias get the better of me. As a character in a story I read once said, "There's no such thing as an irrational fear." Just because a fear may be illogical doesn't mean that you don't feel it just as strongly. The only real definition of courage that has any meaning is the ability to do something in spite of your fear. The soldier who knows no fear and charges bravely into battle isn't really showing courage. It doesn't frighten him, so it took no real effort for him to be able to do it. The guy who is scared witless and charges into battle anyway -- that's real courage!

The lesson here is that your protagonist doesn't have to be fearless. In fact, if he is truly fearless, then he can't be truly courageous. Give your characters bone-shaking fears and then put them in situations that forces them to confront those fears. Let them show their real courage!

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