Twenty Seconds

“All you need is just twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you something good will come of it”–We Bought a Zoo

Twenty seconds. It’s odd to think that such a minimal amount of time can leave such an impression on our lives. In twenty seconds I can pour myself some water, walk through my house, or start my computer. How can twenty seconds possibly have the power to affect my life so profoundly?

As unbelievable as this is, when I look back at my life story, all I see are a series of choices that were a catalyst for some sector of my existence. I think back to when I decided not to sit next to people who I knew weren’t my friends, when I was brave enough to comment on one of my English teacher’s dance-like habits, and when I messaged a complete stranger on Facebook (how very twenty-first century of me). In the moment I decided not to associate myself with the people who were putting a damper on my spirit, I learned to respect myself. In the moment when I asked my English teacher if she had formerly been a dancer, I started my first conversation with someone who would bring out the best in me. In the moment I messaged a stranger on Facebook, I lost the fear of meeting new people and started a best friendship that I wouldn’t be able to live without today, and all it took was twenty seconds of insane courage.

I think of how beautiful life is in that such insignificant increments of time can make the world around you and within you so fulfilled. No matter if the choice you make is a bad one, a lesson is to be learned that you will remember. It’s as if we’re all feathers upon wind, and we can choose directions as we please, floating about, but the wind will always carry us where we need to be in the end. No matter which path you take, you are meant to come to a destination. The choices we make every day will either take us on a long, hard trip to the destination or an easy, scenic route. What’s important to remember is that we get there, and maybe, just maybe, along the way we’re meant to help others get to their destinations, too. After all, decisions affect everyone around us. Perhaps when we use our twenty seconds of courage with or for someone else, we help him or her to their destination. How beautiful is that? The ability to help our fellow human beings get to where they are meant to be makes us the wind, doesn’t it? Which makes me wonder…is destiny as intangible as we think it up to be? Or does each person we meet hold a piece of our own destiny and fate within themselves? How special and how frightening to think that every single person we come into contact with in this world is entrusted with a footfall or a stepping-stone to add to our walk of life. All it takes is twenty seconds of insane courage.

To be “courageous”, to have “courage”, is, more or less, a limiting term. Our culture has attached a connotation of strength and honor to the term “courage”, thus putting the focus on how the individual thrives as a result of he or she acting in a courageous manner. However, I see courage as an awakening. Yes, there is a world outside of our own heads, and it’s full of lush beauty and endless life, but it’s also in need of some serious therapy. You accept the fact that you are abruptly stirred from the numbness of society and finally see the reality of it all: there’s so much more to life than just where you are going to be in the next five years. We, as a human race, spend too much of our time selfishly searching for our path and trying to stay on it. Would it really be that crazy to think that it’s in plain sight, lying out in front and around us? All we have to find is that twenty seconds of courage to just go because that footfall, that gust of wind, it’s waiting for us. It may be there in the form of the languid and tired breathing of the trees on a summer night, or the best friend you’ve known for eighteen years and have never sat down to appreciate, but it’s certainly not within ourselves. It’s in what others and what the world can give us. Our society is too confused, too absorbed in itself; if we would take some twenty seconds of courage to teach each other how to experience the world and indulge in each other and the life lessons all of us have to offer, perhaps we would all be able to gather more pieces of ourselves.

The clock is ticking away, counting down: 00:20. Twenty seconds in which I can say, “I’m going to University of Portland”. Twenty seconds of a friendly person going up to a shy and offering friendship. Twenty seconds of being brave enough to say, “No”. Twenty seconds of being brave enough to say, “Yes”. Twenty seconds of looking to the left, right, and back of yourself instead of remaining in tunnel vision. Twenty seconds of putting all of your faith in yourself, your fellow humans, or just throwing your faith out in the open, vulnerable to anything that passes by and through it. Twenty seconds of throwing fear away, escaping the concept of “being afraid” and embracing the concept of “being alive”. Twenty seconds of challenging the unknown. Because every twenty seconds you are awake, alive, and facing the path so boldly placed before you is twenty seconds of insane courage. Stop searching and start experiencing.

By Sara Coito

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