Meaning of Courage

What is the meaning of courage?
 
Dictionary definitions:
 
The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.
Free Online Dictionary
 
The ability to do something that frightens one.
Strength in the face of pain or grief.
Oxford Dictionaries
 
But what does it mean to you?
 
I was surprised at how, within the same context, my perception of David’s experiences throughout his major surgery and rehabilitation tribulations, including those we shared at the same time, were different than his. Most notably, fear in the face of great affliction, and courage.
 
David was the first to call me on my birthday, December 30, at 12:19 am. He was up, must have been keeping an eye on the time, and called and actually sang me a birthday song. I suppose the month and a half we spent so much time together when he was hospitalized and in rehab further cemented our bond. I became painfully aware of how vulnerable he is as new worries, now about his physical health and well-being, emerged.
 
I spoke to David minutes after the new year kicked in. Throughout his travails, I thought David had shown a lot of courage and handled himself well, with dignity, and quiet resolve to undergo surgery and be done with it already.
 
I can’t help but think how scary it must have been during the few hours before surgery up until he was prepped, all alone, in the hands of many hospital personnel and the surgeon upon whom he depended to be able to walk. He was aware — at some level — that absent surgery he might become paralyzed.
 
So, I told him in the wee hours of the morning how proud I was about how he handled the experience and how much courage he had shown. He replied by saying, “I was never afraid” (of the surgery).    
 
Where I had dwelled on the “fear factor”, his courage stemmed from facing an unknown danger. Perhaps there is something to the proverb, “ignorance is bliss.”
 
But as I’ve dwelled on this a bit today, it occurs to me that courage is in the eyes of the beholder. The same experience may or may not be perceived through the same lens in terms of what it means to have courage, and the concept of what it is to have courage may rest on different foundations.
 
If I can dissect something as seemingly simple as “courage”, how incredibly complex must communication be that relies so much on words with symbolic meanings, multitudes of interpretations, and a myriad shades of gray.
 
And now, add the likely innumerable linguistic permutations when we communicate with people who have a mental illness.
 
Roy

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