October 12, 2008
Listen to Life:  Don't Be A Coward
It was one of the most profound, yet simple, things that my dad told me:  "Don't be a coward, son.  Do you what you have to do." 
My mom, dad and I were in the living room talking about my photography and some directions that it was going.  I was about 19 and uncertain of a path that I felt I was being led to.  It was always nice to be able to share with them the dreams, hopes, fears and questions that came along life's roads and crossroads.  On this particular afternoon I was at a crossroad or perhaps a fork.  I shared my interests and then my concerns.  And dad replied with those words above.
I knew dad did not mean "coward" as in sniveling, scared-of-one's-own-shadow sort of characterization.  Part of my concerns related to what I feared people may think or whether they would question my artistic curiosities.  Had dad been more eloquent, he would have said, "Young man, be not afraid of that which vexes you.  Pursue your goals with confidence and without fear for you are called to things in life and you must respond to those calls."  But my father didn't talk that way.  Thank goodness. 
I remember dad's words often.  Today, while watching the movie "Evan Almighty," I was intrigued by the pressures we all face when we feel we are called to something, grand or sublime.  We face the questions of others; the uncertainties of our friends and families are lived out in their words of caution to us; we are doubted and laughed at, or we fear that we will be; we are deemed lunatics in our own rights; or, we are called out to justify again and again the how and why of what we do.  The pressures can squeeze from us our last drops of courage. We often change our course according to the winds of others' judgment.  We might as well set anchor.  In the movie, Evan is a modern day Noah who builds an ark.  That's all I'll share about the film, but the movie should have been the impetus for sophomore theology classes or leadership classes around the country.
It takes strength to stand up to pressures and doubts when we act on things we feel called to explore.  Our big dreams and quests often muster in us the courage of similar scale.  The less grand requires courage, too. The day-to-day routine of living when discouragement fills our lives requires courage; the monotony of life stands before us when we face ill health that requires fear-less-ness; and, the spontaneity required by split-moment decisions of integrity requires looking-ahead confidence.  The grand and the simple require us to be courageous in our actions and decisions, whether forging a creative path, building our own ark or other major project, or knowing the right thing to say to a friend, colleague, loved one or stranger.  Don't be a coward.  Do you what you have to do.

A free newsletter about learning and getting more from life by paying attention to our own stories and the stories of others, based on the presentations, writings, photography and workshops by Dion McInnis (www.dionmcinnis.com).  Copyright 2008 Dion McInnis.  All rights reserved.

Recent Citings of Dion 
"Sweet Sendoffs" about "sending your kids to college with hugs" in August 2008 Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

"Companies Embrace Praise"
Christian Science Monitor 
Topic: Helping New Employees Succeed

"Employers Help Ease 'Buyer's Remorse' in Hiring New Employees"
Globe and Mail: Canada's National Newspaper

"25 Ways to Sabotage Your Job Search"
MSN/ CareerBuilder and CNN

Topic: Pixels and Photography
South China Morning Post newspaper

"5 No Brainer Morale Boosters"

"Watch a gorgeous, relaxing sunset"
Woman's World, June 16

Presentations and Exhibitions

Come see and buy Dion's work and that of many other photographers at the Learning Curve 2 Photo Exhibition at Houston Center for Photography from September 12 - October 26, Closing reception and Annual Print Sale: Saturday, November 1 from 4-8pm.

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A Guide to Seeing ...
By Dion McInnis
Learn more about Dion's presentations and topics, all based on creativity, listening to life, and celebrating all people. 
Enjoy, "God, You're Beautiful...What We Say, We Say to God," my free PDF booklet.
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Celebrating All People in Images and Words