I read a quote the other day: “Courage is a love affair with the unknown.” I liked the way those words came together in my mind with an invitation for further exploration and discovery.


It reminded me of something my teacher, Guru Singh, had taught the ballsy, less mature me about the courage of going beyond my balls and opening my heart after the death of my mom and the loss of my job. He described the experience of courage in life as the relationship between the sun, a large obstacle, and its shadow.

We often spend our lives in the shadows. Shadows are comfortable and safe because we’ve been hiding in them our whole lives and know there’s nothing new lurking around the corner to hurt us. But shadows can also be dark and ominous, and sometimes life calls on us to emerge. Tragedies — divorce, a job loss, illness or, in my case, the death of my mom — often act as fuel propelling us from the shadows in search of the sun. Before we find the sun, though, we find what lies in between: that which created the shadow. These are the obstacles of our lives. While the shadows are darkly familiar, the obstacles are new and overwhelming. For most of our lives we thought the shadow was all that existed and now we see something new and larger than the shadow. So we spend lots of time looking at these obstacles, analyzing them and trying to understand what they mean. In our culture this is called therapy. As anyone who’s been through therapy knows, this can be an exhausting stage that’s often so difficult it makes us retreat once again back into the shadows. We call this relapse … into substance, work, violence, toxic relationships … and we return to our story, once again feeling safe behind the shadow’s veil until another tragedy comes along and we step (again) toward our obstacle. Perhaps this time we look at the obstacle with fresh eyes. We might be done with analysis and discussion, and maybe we see a path or a door that wasn’t visible in our past attempts. We move around the obstacle and into the sun, the pure light. And we are home.

Recently, I contemplated on this journey and Guru Singh’s words. I sat for a while alone and then my wife joined me and we sat together. It was evening and there were shadows cast about the room, forming ominous-looking figures on the dark wood of our bedroom floor. I didn’t notice the shadows much though; perhaps it was Guru Singh’s teachings, or maybe I just felt safety from the warmth of my wife’s hand gently touching mine. I sat and stared for a while into the glow of the fireplace, entranced by the dance of the pure light that warmed the room. Beyond the shadows and the objects in between, the fire was a symbol for the courage with which I was learning to live my life.

I spent most of my life confusing bravado with courage. I trembled inside while bravely marching on, hiding my feelings, disguising their existence behind an elaborate suit of armor I called my job, money, and stuff. Bravado is the cowardly lion, hiding the fear and pretending to be superhuman. Courage is a revelation, the light of reality. It doesn’t ask us to not feel fear; instead it invites us to feel the fear, to feel it fully and then when comfortable to look beyond … and then it calls again to go beyond even that and see what you find. Bravado is your college frat buddy. Courage is your wife.

This is one of the values of meditation. In sitting with only ourselves, we begin to see beyond the stories that find their home in our daily lives. In life those stories find support in the stories of others, they find agreement in the nightly news and appear to be the truth as they loop around and around in our experience. They are the shadows of shadows. Sitting silently, without the stimulation that feeds these stories, we begin — slowly — to see beyond them. On the first go-around in our brains a story may seem real, and our internal cheering section says, “hell yeah!” But as the story runs over and over again it begins to lessen in intensity and soon, what appeared once as truth becomes a question. It’s in that questioning that truth is found. Courage is the questioning.

This is the courage that sees beyond skin color — and uniforms too for that matter — and allows men with conflicting costumes to meet in the street and truly find each other instead of playing out a tragic and ancient story line. It’s the courage that a husband and a wife call on in the midst of relationship struggles to wind back time before acting out the story of their pain and abandonment and fall in love again. It’s the courage of a new breed of business executives who see beyond the dollars and cents of their jobs to touch and inspire the hearts of their employees. It’s the courage that women around the world discover as they give birth, miraculously replacing the physical pain with a sacred mission of the heart to bring their baby into the world. It’s the courage that can … and will … save the world, uniting us all in the place beyond the illusion where we are all the same — men, women, and children who just want to be loved.

Courage is the calling to emerge from the shadows, to see beyond our obstacles and enter the light. I invite you this week to join me in a simple meditation. Sit or lie down, however you are comfortable. Be aware of your shadows and your obstacles … but also allow for the possibility that they are the manifestation of your light. Breathe and slowly loosen your grip on the stories that have been galloping in your head. Don’t push them away, just loosen the grip a bit and allow yourself to emerge from the shadows. See the obstacles that created the shadows: painful childhoods, abandonment, death, violence. See them, but also know that beyond there is light. Breathe deeply into this knowing … there is light. Comfort yourself the way a mother tenderly cradles her baby, and step into the light …

May we have the courage to venture into the unknown. May we be at peace with all we find. May self-love guide the way.

Big hugs of courage and light,


May we have the courage to venture into the unknown. May we be at peace with all we find. May self-love guide the way.


  1. What an incredible post Jason. I think the distinction between bravado and courage is so important to understand… and the insignificance of the pursuit of “stuff”. I listened to a speech the other day that someone gave. He said the word spiritual means ‘anything that is not material’. Your writing consistently reminds me that life is not about “stuff” but rather about contribution to a greater purpose, love for yourself and others, & service (to yourself and others)… You are inspiring as always!

    If anyone has not read “And I Breathed” I would strongly recommend it be your next book as it will take you on an amazing journey and touch your heart… and least it did for me.

    Thanks my man.

  2. wendy st. john-devereaux says:

    this was a wonderful, heartfelt, real post….you always get to the heart of the matter, and it is that factor that always makes me look forward to reading your words…..

    ian and I have been working with light, with using it in a real and tangible way in our lives. and as a tool to assist others……so this article had special meaning to us today….

    as always, thank you for your posts and your wisdom

    ,much love xxoo
    wendy and ian

  3. Beautiful expression of your journey. After reading this (pre-comment) , I automatically took a deep breath and let it out so slowly. Thank you.

  4. christinerosas42 says:

    “Bravado is your college frat buddy. Courage is your wife.” This made me laugh out loud! True! True! I am finding sitting in the space between was the missing piece in my personal growth experience for a very long time. It’s been such a profound discovery that I am now ready to experience.

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