Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brave on the Rocks

Several years ago I read Brave on the Rocks by Sabrina Ward Harrison.
I like the title.
Bravery, like a good drink, on the rocks...
And as much as I like my margaritas, no salt, on the rocks, I got it all wrong.

When Sabrina was a little girl, she was following her daddy, walking barefoot in his footsteps. He got to a rocky stretch of the path and she didn't want to follow him any more. He told her that she had to be brave on the rocks.

I remember following in my daddy's footsteps more than once as a little girl. In the summer time, I often walked barefoot. It got easier as the summer went on. And the rocks became less painful. I started the summer with soft feet, and when i walked barefoot in gravel, it hurt. Or if I walked across hot pavement, it burned and I would run to get to the other side. As the bottom of my feet felt pain, the pain developed callouses. As the callouses became thicker, the rocks were less painful, and the pavement didn't feel quite so hot.

I walked gently at the beginning of the summer, but by the end of summer, when my feet had developed thick, protective callouses, I would run without looking down first. The rocks were still there, but I no longer felt the pain.

This realization changed my outlook at the beginning of the summer. When I approached the rocks, I knew they would hurt. But if I avoided them, then my callouses would never become thick and tough and able to withstand the careless freedom of running barefoot. I spent the first few weeks of summer approaching the rocks with the purpose of enduring the pain to toughen up my feet. I didn't avoid them. I welcomed them, because I knew they were a means to an end.

In today's world, the word callous is not considered a positive thing. As an adjective, it is defined as insensitive, indifferent, or unsympathetic. As a noun, people go to the salon to have their callouses removed so they will have soft, supple feet.

But to me, as a young girl, building callouses were essential to enjoying the freedom of being barefoot in summer. I think that callouses are a good thing. It takes pain to build them. It takes endurance, and persistence. They don't look pretty, but they are protective. And their protection provides a freedom that you cannot get any other way.

If you want to run barefoot, you have to build callouses. Because when you have callouses, you can be brave on the rocks.



"it is good to remember that we need each other greatly, you and i, more than much of the time we dare to imagine, more than most of the time we dare to admit." - fredrick buechner

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