In case you aren’t familiar with Viking belief systems, the Nine Noble Virtues are as follows:1. Courage2. Truth3. Honour4. Fidelity5. Discipline6. Hospitality7. Self-Reliance8. Industriousness9. Perseverance
Focus for a moment on that word. Courage. What do you see in your mind? Overcoming challenges? Fighting against great odds? Facing your fears?
I should hope that you see all of that. I should also hope that you can focus on a smaller scale than what I picture every time that I imagine the word.
Or maybe you’re a lot like me and you imagine a single man (or woman) going up against an army of people who would harm him (or her) or who have suppressed an entire people and are finally going to be brought asunder by a single person.
And that’s great. That is a very powerful image to have in your mind. To see King Leonidas and his 300 men facing the innumerable legions of the Persian Army. Or maybe you imagine David fighting the giant Goliath, the small frame of David a stark contrast against the huge countenance of Goliath. Or you imagine Frodo, making his way to Mordor, up the mountain, struggling, in pain, but never giving up. Very striking, very powerful. Inspiring.
And yes, these are amazing examples of courage. There’s no doubt about that.
But take a step back for a moment. Think about this on a personal level, because really, that is what the Nine Noble Virtues are about. These are things you want to uphold as a person. These are things you want to be seen by the others in your life.
Boil it down to the basics. Think about your life. What does Courage mean in the life of someone reading my blog? You probably live in a First World Country. You obviously have a computer, or a smartphone. And if not, you clearly have access to one. You probably have food, shelter, clothing. Maybe not expensive clothing, and maybe not gourmet food, but you probably have a relatively decent amount and can be considered to be ‘comfortable’ in relation to a starving homeless child in Africa. Right?
So what do you have to be courageous about?
Just because you have it relatively easy doesn’t mean that you don’t have to have courage in some things. And courage doesn’t just mean fighting for everything.
You could have the courage to get out of bed and go to your shitty job every day so that you can continue to pay the bills so that you can continue to live a relatively comfortable life.
You could have the courage to stand up for that weird kid in class who gets picked on every day.
You could have the courage to squash that spider in the bathroom even though you have immense arachnophobia.
Okay, so that last one was a little bit more of an exaggeration, but I think it still applies.
Having courage doesn’t mean that you always have to fight against great odds or overcome immense challenges. Sometimes, courage means that you don’t give up — and that includes giving up on yourself.