Several years ago, we set out on a hike in Switzerland with our three children. It began to pour with rain, but we’re hardy people; rain doesn’t deter us. We knew we’d have to traverse a narrow ledge ahead, but hey, we could do it. Then we passed a couple going the other way. “You’re brave,” they said. That’s when we turned back.

Hiking in Switzerland

When you hear those two words, “You’re brave,” you suddenly think, “Am I brave? Do I want to be brave? Have I made a big mistake?”

When we heard those words on that hike, we realised we didn’t want to be so brave and didn’t go to that ledge. There was no problem doing that. This memoir author, who also worried about those words, would have had more difficulty pulling out if she’d wanted to. Fortunately, she decided she didn’t.

My MemoirI’m still planning to write a memoir one day. I’ve even thought of a format and written the first chapter. The revelations in it won’t be as hard as the ones Susan Burrowes owned up to. And many of the people in it are no longer alive and able to be hurt by it. Someone wants me to leave something out. It’s a very small part of the whole and can easily be omitted. It shows something important, but there are other examples.

That's me

 

 

I’ll have to be ready for people to tell me I’m brave. I think I will be.

Have you been told you’re brave? How did you react?

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We’ve been to Switzerland many times, with and without children. This time we did what we we always do. We rented an “apartment” – in this case one room the size of a small hotel room but with cooking facilities – and we went hiking, using our Swiss Pass to the full to get around the country on trains, buses and boats.

We had a lovely time. As we walked, we greeted the people we passed, and this is one of the fun things about Switzerland. Most of the time, we were in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, although German here is very different from the German I learned at school. The usual greeting is “Grussech” which apparently stands for “greetings to you”, but sometimes they say “greetings to everyone” or several other combinations. Some days we travelled to the French-speaking area and switched to “Bonjour.” In the Italian area, we said “Bonjourno.” The strangest walk was from the German-speaking to the French-speaking area, when we switched mid-walk.

But I want to tell you about three special encounters this time. The first was with one of the natives, and while I didn’t venture too close to her…

Me and Cow…the holiday wouldn’t have been the same without this one and all the others, crossing our paths, their bells dingling.

The second encounter was with someone you all know.

Me and Sherlock

We had a most interesting conversation together, but I couldn’t interest him in my bookmarks. I had to admit that there’s no crime to investigate in my book.

The third encounter was with this couple:

Cable car from Grindelwald to MannlichenWe got into a cable car for four and they followed us. The man said, “My country is Kuwait.” We smiled and D said, “We’re from Israel.” A few eyebrows were raised. They smiled when D spoke a few words in Arabic. We took photos of each other. That’s all.

Click on the image to join in the challenge

What a beautiful picture for this week’s prompt:

Following Instructions

“Which way now?”

“It says to cross by the bridge.”

“Erm, that might be a bit hard.”

“I see what you mean. We’ll just have to take our shoes off and wade over.”

***

“Here we are, on the bridge. Pity you fell in.”

“I’m cold and wet through. My sandwiches must be soaking. And now we’re here, I see this bridge doesn’t lead anywhere.”

“That’s true. We’ll have to wade to the other side.”

“Look! Over there. Do you see what I see?”

“That long, sturdy metal bridge? Must be the one we should have taken.”

“Great. Just great.”

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Just 22 days to my book launch…

Karen wrote this recently:

Too often we think we CAN’T do something. What we really mean is we can’t do it by OUR rules.

I can understand that. On our recent trip to Prague, for instance, we spent one day out of the city, visiting Karlstejn Castle. Following our tour of the castle (given by a young woman who sounded as if she was bored sick of guiding tourists) we decided to follow a path marked by a signpost pointing to Beroun, the next station along the line. 13.5 kilometres, it said. Fine, we said. Not having purchased a map, we didn’t know what to expect. The path went up and down all the time – mostly up, it seemed, although we expected to go slightly down overall. Maybe because we began the walk at 1 in the afternoon, or because we only had an apple each and didn’t find a restaurant until near the end of the walk, we found the walk a bit tough. But still, it was doable.

What if you’d asked me to do the whole thing running without stopping? I’d have said no, I can’t. Possibly, if I spent a long time practicing running, I’d be able to do it. That’s just not something I want to do. That’s what Karen means when she talks about doing it by our rules: I’d only be prepared to run those 13.5 kilometres if I could do it without working at it. However, I’m sure there are people who wouldn’t be able to do that run, however hard they worked at it. There are people who wouldn’t be able to do the walk I did. I don’t mean those who are too lazy to do it or just don’t enjoy walking enough to try. I mean those who aren’t physically able to do it. What’s wrong with saying CAN’T in such a case?

Once, I worked with someone who was brilliant at telling stories of things that had happened to him. When he told a story, people would gather round to listen because they knew they’d enjoy it, me included. And I thought, I want to be like that. I enjoy giving presentations, being the centre of attention, and I want that to happen more often.

One time, he talked about his youth, about wild parties that he and his brother held every evening at their house. I thought about my youth, which was so different from his and I realised I could never be like him. I missed out on the experiences that could have made it possible.

There are enough things I struggle to do without trying to do the impossible. I feel better for saying, not that – I CAN’T do it and I’ll never be able to do it.

Hiking in Switzerland

People tell me I’m very brave for writing what I write in my blog. “I know,” I reply, biting my lip. “Maybe too brave.”

I thought about this blog for a long time before I started it. When I finally decided I was ready for it, I went ahead. I haven’t regretted it … yet. But I’m still frightened.

Once, on holiday in Switzerland, we started off with the children on a three-day hike. Rain was beating down and we knew that we were coming to a path on the edge of a cliff. Two people passed us, going the other way. “You’re brave,” they said to us, admiringly. That’s when we decided to turn back.

I’m not going to turn back. What I’m doing is not life-threatening, as far as I know, and so far nothing bad has happened because of it. Anyway, I’ve been too cautious for too long. It’s time to break out of this protecting, restricting, inhibiting fortress.

So, it’s all right to tell me I’m brave. I’ll take it as a compliment and not as justification for turning back.

Are you brave?

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