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. . . and I Am Brave

I am home from all my travels, home from California, home from Taiwan. I could tell and tell about it but in some ways, I haven’t the words.

I wrote before I left about my fears around this trip. I had many. I was afraid the long flight would be awful and that I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I wasn’t. I was afraid I wasn’t in shape enough for the bike trip. I was! I was afraid something dreadful would happen, in a country where I had zero ability to speak or read the language. It didn’t.

So when we came upon this sculpture, with this title, during our first amazing day of the bike journey, I was enchanted. “I am brave.” I hadn’t been feeling brave. I had balked at riding city bikes in the busy streets of Taipei and Taichung, with throngs of scooters, cars, trucks, and people. I did not feel brave, but I did it. I had moments of “I can’t do it” when we picked up our rental bikes and I found my “extra small” e-bike too big to get comfortably on and off of. I was afraid of falling in traffic or anywhere, and breaking a hip, like an old lady. And then I panicked when I read a couple of comments online about how scary the coastal route–our route–could be.

But I knew I could trust my son. He had made all the plans. He is a skilled traveler and cyclist. He was my guide. We set off, in this gorgeous land where all those drivers of scooters, cars and trucks really do watch out for cyclists, where there are miles and miles of beautiful dedicated bikeways, where bike lanes accompany practically every street and highway, where the many bicycle routes for traversing Taiwan are well-marked, where cyclists are warmly welcomed nearly everywhere. Bicycling is the national pastime in Taiwan and that is very apparent.

I would like to write more about the country and the trip in my next letter. It has been so much for me to absorb. I’ll let this one express my gratitude that my son made this happen for me and gave me the chance to be brave. This was much more than travel for me. It was transformative. I’ve learned that I can be fearful of a thing–anxious, worried, even envisioning terrible things–and yet still go ahead and do it, ultimately finding it utterly exhilarating. I once was better friends with that concept than I have been of late. It has been wonderful for me to revisit it.

Thank you, Cole.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

“Courage conquers all things: it even gives strength to the body.” – Ovid

“In all realms of life it takes courage to stretch your limits, express your power, and fulfill your potential.” – Suze Orman

If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. If you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. And if someone forwarded this one to you, you can sign up here to receive the letters right in your Inbox. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”

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