20 Seconds of Courage Most Liked

I watched We Bought A Zoo with Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson.  It is the semi true story of how a dad reconnects with himself and his children, especially his son, by buying a zoo after his wife dies. All the heart wrenching scenes of a grief stricken dad trying to do right by his children.

It was an okay movie. I felt a bit duped when we read in Wikipedia that the real life wife died after they bought the zoo. I guess anguished dad stories sell more movie tickets.

Anyway, my point?

Mid way through the movie Matt Damon’s character tells his children the story of how he met their mom. He recalled how frightened he was to approach her in the local cafe. As he stood outside the cafe, deciding to act or leave, he heard his older brother telling him as a child, “All you need is 20 seconds of courage.” He went in and met his future wife.

20 seconds of courage. I loved that concept. It made sense to me. I could use that in my life.

Saturday night Tom and I went to our when we have something to celebrate restaurant. Our last celebration was when I sold my house. I took him out for lobster and champagne. This time we were celebrating his raise. He took me out. They didn’t have lobster, so we had really great fish and champagne.

Toward the end of the evening, the table in the corner of the room, surrounded by windows overlooking downtown Pittsburgh, began to fill with a group of women. Each one came in separately clearly excited to greet her already seated friends. I’d say they were in their forties, some dressed conservatively, others provocatively, all looking their best and beautiful. They hugged each other saying, “You look great!”

I couldn’t stop watching them. “You can’t take your eyes off them can you?” Tom noticed. I admitted I could not. He asked me if I had noticed the couple sitting there before them, 2 people lost in a 6 person table. I had not. “So what is so interesting to you about these women?” he asked. I wasn’t sure, but I was guessing they had a great story.

I watched a little longer hoping not to get caught eavesdropping or staring. Tom suggested I go over and introduce myself. He guessed my interest saying they might have a great story I could blog about. I looked him straight in the eye, the kind of straight in the eye that implied his idea was crazy.

I explained to my partner of 5 years, husband for 9 months, that I am basically a shy person. I couldn’t interrupt this table of friends to get my curiosity quenched. It was a ludicrous idea.

Then I heard it…

loud and clear, ”all you need is 20 seconds of courage.”

I made up my mind and walked over to their table. They looked up expecting to see the waiter and instead they saw me. I explained I am a local blogger and admitted I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I went on to say my husband encouraged me to come over because I imagined they had a great story of how they met, how often they gathered and what it meant to them to gather like this. They all smiled at me and to one another.

Their story. They met at Slippery Rock University their freshman year all teaching majors. Two remained in the education school and the others switched majors, but they remained friends throughout their college years and their lives. They explained they now live all over the country and haven’t seen each other in 25 years. This was their reunion. I teared up.

They asked me what I did. I explained I am a psychotherapist specializing in women’s issues. They invited me to sit down. “We need to talk to you,” they all laughed. (One of two responses occur when I tell someone I am a therapist. Either every one shuts up or no one shuts up.)

I took their pictures with several of their cameras and invited them to email me the long version of their story so I could share it with all of you. They took my card and said they would.

I feel better for meeting them. I feel sweet about life and friendship and courage.

All it took was 20 seconds of courage.

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Posted in Being Boswell, other topics, spirituality.

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4 Responses

  1. Shannon Ingram Shannon Ingram says

    Love this story! I’m about to do a post about the role of courage in caregiving, especially for parents. I love the “20 seconds” part, and your story illustrated it beautifully.  Thanks!

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  2. being Boswell being Boswell says

    Thanks Shannon , I will look forward to your post. Are you going to talk about as a parent caring for kids or caring for our own parents? My experience is both take boat loads of courage. Can’t wait to read your insights

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  3. Alicia Alicia says

    How wonderful!  I have been (feel the fear and do it anyway) all of my life.  After a childhood of molestation, abuse and poverty….joined the army right out of  high school.  After a “marriage’ of 31 years of abuse, I got a divorce.  After my church voted me out of membership, with my name up on a big screen, followed by the word, “Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God”—I fought the system for 18 months.  I wrote about my life of overcoming and thriving and won a scholarship.
    I am a sophomore at age 66.  I was invited to present (Michigan counseling association) my paper, Society’s Hidden pandemic, Verbal Abuse, Precursor to Physical Violence and a Form of Biochemical Assault.
    Nervous as could be, but I did it!  I believe we are here to make a idfference and it is my goal to appear on national tv to speak about verbal abuse.
    Feel the fear and do it anyway has been one of  my mottos all of my life.  I was also invited to speak at the University’s Honors college.
    It all has taken courage, but I must stand up for what I believe in.

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  4. watermusic watermusic says

    I sometimes think that as we get older we remember far too many of our failures and hurts and stop taking risks especially in  reaching out to new people and relationships. It relatively  easy for me to stand up against injustice or take a  stand for myself or another. It has become less easy for me to risk new relationships when all I can see is why they won’t work out. Really lovely post.

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