Everyone thinks that courage is about facing death without flinching. But almost anyone can do that. Almost anyone can hold their breath and not scream for as long as it takes to die.
True courage is about facing life without flinching. I don't mean the times when the right path is hard, but glorious at the end. I'm talking about enduring the boredom, the messiness, and the inconvenience of doing what is right.
It was a comet. The boy saw the comet and he felt as though his life had meaning. And when it went away, he waited his entire life for it to come back to him. It was more than just a comet because of what it brought to his life: direction, beauty, meaning. There are many who couldn't understand, and sometimes he walked among them. But even in his darkest hours, he knew in his heart that someday it would return to him, and his world would be whole again... And his belief in God and love and art would be re-awakened in his heart. The boy saw the comet and suddenly his life had meaning.
In magic - and in life - there is only the present moment, the now. You can't measure time the way you measure the distance between two points. 'Time' doesn't pass. We human beings have enormous difficulty in focusing on the present; we're always thinking about what we did, about how we could have done it better, about the consequences of our actions, and about why we didn't act as we should have. Or else we think about the future, about what we're going to do tomorrow, what precautions we should take, what dangers await us around the next corner, how to avoid what we don't want and how to get what we have always dreamed of.
Life is an adventure of passion, risk, danger, laughter, beauty, love; a burning curiosity to go with the action to see what it is all about, to go search for a pattern of meaning, to burn one's bridges because you're never going to go back anyway, and to live to the end.
To me, at least in retrospect, the really interesting question is why dullness proves to be such a powerful impediment to attention. Why we recoil from the dull. Maybe it’s because dullness is intrinsically painful; maybe that’s where phrases like ‘deadly dull’ or ‘excruciatingly dull’ come from. But there might be more to it. Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that’s dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient, low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from feeling, or at least from feeling directly or with our full attention. Admittedly, the whole thing’s pretty confusing, and hard to talk about abstractly…but surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places any more but now also actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarkets’ checkouts, airport gates, SUVs’ backseats. Walkman, iPods, BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do. I can’t think anyone really believes that today’s so-called ‘information society’ is just about information. Everyone knows it’s about something else, way down.