Saturday, March 14, 2009


NOTE: This is just another take on what Janet said. But it bears repeating. 

Here in Italy, it's said countless times a day: "Coraggio!" 

Courage! Buck up! You can do it! But it also a carries a sort of "Get on with it" connotation at times. Like, here's the courage you need, now shit or get off the pot, if you'll pardon my French. 

It's used on every occasion that requires the minimum stiff upper lip. When you decide to spend the summer in Milan instead of joining the mass exodus out of hell. When you have to eat all your vegetables. When you realize you have to undergo open heart surgery performed in the mythic Philippine style.  When you merely have to face another day head-on. It's used for challenges great and small, enormous and insignificant. Once in a lifetime, and run of the mill. 

And, you know what? It actually helps to hear it, to receive an injection.

Why do I say this? you ask. Because I've, wait, my Mom told me...that Life requires boatloads of it. That at every turn, I would be well served if I carried an extra, even illegally sized, stash of courage in my backpack/suitcase/bra. You doubt me? Let's talk. 

Marriage. (What could be scarier?) Childbirth (ditto). Failing. Succeeding. Losing your job. Not finding a new one. Bush et al. Knowing that somewhere out there, there really is a Camorra. Flying (why does that plane stay airborn anyway?). Climate change (or any other headline you'd like to focus on). 

And that's just the obvious stuff. What about our internal workings? Our deep fears? Our persistent flaws? The demons—oh let's just be honest and call them "our choices in life"—that continue to haunt us? The long term effects we are having on our children? The hurt we dole out without realizing it, until it's too late? The losses? The chances that never come back? The people we love that never come back? The people we lose? There is nothing to keep us going at times other than courage. Nothing.  


Let's get back to climate change for a minute. If you're a woman, you have your own internal variety to contend with, the one that will strike sooner or later, requiring you to spend all of the winter months in cruise wear. 

Which leads me to my theory that a middle aged woman came up with this rallying cry. (Coraggio!) Can we talk about shocking? Can we talk about unpredictable? Can we talk about paranoia? Can we talk about not knowing what's around the corner, not even tomorrow morning? That's what happens...and it happens for a long time...and it starts without warning...and it goes on and on...even though the prevailing signs and symbols say that you are "fine." I know, I know. Many of my friends sailed through this change in their life without a ripple, a hiccup or a lost hair. I, on the other hand, have days where I feel like I'm not a day older than 25, followed by days where I feel like someone who couldn't possibly be me. Things are "off." Things are out of whack. I'm out of whack. And then it goes. And then it comes back. And then...

In every phase of my life, I've been behind in my ability to "get it." Just when I realize where I am, I've scooted on to the next point. Right when I'm getting used to myself, my body has decided to take me on another blindfolded tour of yet-another amusement park (with even scarier and more thrilling rides). Just when I think I know something, really know it, I realize I don't. 

But this time, I think I do know something. I know it in my cells, in my weird-feeling head. I know it with my heart. I know that my Mom was right. It--Life--does take courage. And Janet was right. You have to get through it. 

You just have to. And you can. Coraggio.


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