For the One Who is Brave

This is a poem I wrote for my wedding, and hid in plain sight. When an unsuspecting guest picked it up, she was instructed to stop everything to read it, which she did. My husband had not read the poem yet, and it was a joy to watch his face as he took it in for the first time.

I wrote this for my wedding, but it applies to this moment of turmoil and uncertainty, and I hope you enjoy it and take courage.

For the One Who is Brave
(a comprehensive exposition of what bravery is)

The first time you are brave,
you probably won’t know it
until it is too late
and your only choice is to keep being brave
or lose—maybe everything.
Later you will learn to know in advance,
so you can opt out early
and not be confronted with the concept of brave to begin with,
Because you will also learn in exactly which ways it is hard
to be brave.
You will know it is lonely, solitary, and scary,
It is lights and eyes pointed at you,
It is interrupting a wedding.
You will know the difference between brave
and the comfort of your bed, a dark room,
and an “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
But what’s important, once you have learned the difference—
when being brave is love taking a risk,
not lightning taking the shortest route to the ground—
is to do it anyway,
to say yes to living,
yes to trusting your gut,
yes to distrusting your depression,
yes to going on a first date,
when you thought first dates were done.
It is naked, standing three feet apart,
and holding off on the impulse to dim the lights,
or move together to touch, instead of
look—holding each other’s gaze,
for seconds then minutes.
It is sharing the parts of you that you’d rather
weren’t there, that you wished were better,
but aren’t yet.
It is “I was wrong” and “I’m sorry.”
Sometimes, even, it’s fighting monsters,
casual and grandiose.
But it is mostly glamorless,
mostly the hard stuff,
mostly the what’s next stuff,
but we still write songs about it,
and read poems under the glare of stage lights,
and perform plays,
and go to movies about all of this
ordinary bravery.
And this is no different,
Except that this is for us,
for future yeses,
for we do,
we will,
we can,
we must,