When I awoke this morning I found a valuable reminder in my in-box. I have been wishing I had closed my eyes, bitten my tongue and written nothing about what lies beneath the tranquillity of our lake's unrippled surface. And then I read this.
Earl Nightingale, a radio broadcaster and thoughtful man was quoted as saying that the opposite of courage was not cowardice but conformity.
The writer, Bob Proctor, continues:
It takes courage to break away from the crowd, to go your own way, to do the thing which may be unpopular. It takes courage to stand up for the person who is being unjustly criticized, rather than agreeing and going along with the crowd. It takes courage for the teenager to say no, when all the rest of the kids begin going down the wrong path.
Earl Nightingale was correct - the opposite of courage is conforming. It is one reason so [many] people ... go along with the large group ....
The next time you are encouraged to fall into line, to be a sport, and everything in you says no - be courageous and go your own way. There is no compensation in conformity
I decided to publish the piece I wrote in the middle of the night.
A Very Different Post From Yesterday's
written in the earliest hours of July 23, 2010
At 2:42 a.m. this morning I was trying unsuccessfully to get back to sleep when a loud noise sent Kenya bolting downstairs to her hidey hole and made me leave my bed.
On Wednesday night the young people next door had been playing music till about 3 a.m. The kids were quiet, but the music was loud enough to awaken me. Today my neighbour called to tell me that she too had been awakened at 1 a.m. despite the fact that my house and a cottage stand between her bedroom window and the source of the music. We both had trouble getting back to sleep. I spent the next two hours grumbling to myself. I had closed my windows, filled my ears with silicon, and finally I blanked out. I have insomnia so I hate anything that sets it in motion.
Last night I went to bed at 9:30 with the windows open for air but my ears plugged against sound. When I awoke on my own at 1:30 or so the lake was quiet. I lay in bed for a while reading. Kenya climbed up with me, snuggled in, and fell asleep. At about 2:30 I turned off the light again and lay awake thinking.
Then the shot rang out.
I could hear voices from the young people next door, and their waterfront was lit up.
What would they have shot? The half dozen visiting geese haven't been seen for a few days. But I think geese and Mergansers sleep at night. I hope it wasn't one of the turtles that come at night to graze along that shoreline.
Surely not one of the loons whose calls often haunt the darkness.
Were the kids just very drunk and playing with a rifle?
Or did the shot come from the other end of the lake, from the only house I could see whose windows were still lighted at 2:42 a.m., the one owned by one of the strident voices at the meeting; one of those determined to wipe the lake clean of ducks; someone unable to appreciate the antics of this year's silly splashers; a man who thinks that the mergansers are eating all the fish and poisoning the lake?
I have no idea where the shot came from. This little tea cup lake plays tricks on ears, sending sound echoing from one rock wall to another, so it becomes impossible to be sure of the source.
That single rifle shot kept me up for an other hour in the middle of the night, pondering humans and their propensity for destruction; their headlong rush to obliterate the creatures that make this world a wondrous place to be; their great and grave foolishness; and yes, their refusal to consider any other way to do things.
I do hope my peace was shattered this time by drunken boys who will outgrow their thoughtlessness, but I think back to that meeting, and wonder ...
I have a feeling that the smooth mirror surface of life has been forever shattered ... that peace is a mirage in this world I live in.