Part nine of ten.
I think this one is especially good. I've re-named it in my mind: Can I live without fear? It's not so much can I be courageous, but can I live without the fear that holds me back? Without the fear of always questioning the ramifications of my actions? Either way, courage or lack of fear, a most powerful question.
9) Can I live a courageous life?
If you look at the root of the word "courage," it doesn't mean running under the machine-gun bullets of the enemy, wearing a Sylvester Stallone headband, with glistening biceps and bandoliers of ammunition around one's neck. The word "courage" comes from the old French word coeur meaning "heart." So "courage" is the measure of your heartfelt participation in the world.
Human beings are constantly trying to take courageous paths in their lives: in their marriages, in their relationships, in their work and with themselves. But the human way is to hope that there's a way to take that courageous step—without having one's heart broken. And it's my contention that there is no sincere path a human being can take without breaking his or her heart.
There is no marriage, no matter how happy, that won't at times find you wanting and break your heart. In raising a family, there is no way to be a good mother or father without a child breaking that parental heart. In a good job, a good vocation, if we are sincere about our contribution, our work will always find us wanting at times. In an individual life, if we are sincere about examining our own integrity, we should, if we are really serious, at times, be existentially disappointed with ourselves.
So it can be a lovely, merciful thing to think, "Actually, there is no path I can take without having my heart broken, so why not get on with it and stop wanting these extra-special circumstances which stop me from doing something courageous?"