Life Favors the Brave

A student writes a fantastic piece of how their grandfather use to take them fishing on summer mornings. How standing on the bank, listening to the lake lap against the shore, under the morning sun they found peace. A peace they could not find anywhere else.

Then winter turns and their grandfather dies.

They write about how they have not been back to the lake in few years. But they sometimes dream about the lake and sandy bank and their grandfather. He’s alive. He’s working the fishing line with his finger tips. And with the sun across his face, he holds a smile of a man that will never die.

I tell the student that it’s a great piece. Honest and vulnerable. Made me think of my own grandfather.

“I hope you keep writing.”

“Yeah, we’ll see.”

I sit behind my desk and shuffle some papers.

“Hey Mr. Armstrong, can I ask you something?

I stop shuffling, look up, “Sure.”

“Are you ever afraid to share your writing to other people?”

“Yes. All the time.”

“So how do you get overcome that fear?”

“You don’t. You’re always scared to print or publish for fear of how your work will be perceived. But the reader’s perception is not your responsibility.  As a writer, your responsibility is to tell the story. That’s it.”

The student ruminates, clear their throat, and respectfully responds, “So basically…screw’em.”

I laugh then nod, “Absolutely.”

How do we discover who we are?

Too often, our identity is formed by the judgments of others. We overvalue others opinions yet undervalue what kindles our own soul. We put a greater emphasis on virtual hearts and smiley-faced emojis then focusing on what stirs the real blood in our real heart and shines a real smile on our real face.

Basically, all you have to do to find out who you are is, as Bruce Springsteen wrote in his autobiography Born to Run“risk being your true self.” 

Writing favors the brave.

Playing the guitar in front of 80,000 screaming rock n’roll fans favors the brave.

Navigating high school most definitely favors the brave.

…so does everything else.

Be well,


PS– If you know someone who could use some encouragement feel free to share this post with them.

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