Life is not supposed to be easy. We come here to learn to be a kinder, more loving and more courageous soul. Just as we grow from a small infant to an adult, our soul must grow from infancy to maturity as well.
Sometimes babies are diagnosed with a medical condition called, “failure to thrive”. Too many of us suffer from “soul failure to thrive” simply because we are afraid to fail.
But failure is good. If we try and we fail we learn humility, a wonderful quality to master. But failure is a great teacher only if we have the courage to pick ourselves back up again and keep pursuing our dreams.
Courage is like a muscle. Every time we attempt to do something and fail, it’s an opportunity to exercise our courage muscle and make it grow stronger.
My father taught me courage.
In October 1953, at the age of 32, my father, a Navy pilot stationed aboard a huge aircraft carrier, was suddenly caught in a deadly explosion. Badly burned, he crawled to an opening and called down below for help. It came immediately as he was pulled down into a room where 9 enlisted men, all between the ages of 19 and 24, were now trapped.
According to an account of the story in a Boston newspaper, my father said: “I’m a Catholic. My blood type is A. I need a priest.” In a panic and with smoke filling the room, they told him there was no escape. Realizing as an officer that he was in charge, he gave orders to lie down, so they didn’t breathe in the smoke, and then led them in prayer together.
As they became calm, this stranger, with 90-degree burns on 80% of his body, showed them how to use Morse Code to tap out a distress message on the bulkhead of the ship. Their message was heard and a rescue team cut down several layers to pull all nine men to safety.
I never spoke to my father again. He died, three days later, but he left a powerful message that even in the most difficult situations one must still remember there is always an opportunity to give to others and do what you have to do.
I was about to turn 7 that year and, of course, missed him terribly. But his legacy to me has been priceless. French novelist, George Sand said it perfectly: “One is happy as a result of one’s own efforts once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness — a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience.