Everyday you sit next to someone amazing. I don’t mean this in the hyperbolic language of tech/entrepreneur world. You seriously sit next to someone who is incredible, but you haven’t noticed. The great tragedy is that you might never notice.
I have lost count of the number of incredible people I have worked next to, gone to school with, or passed by on the street. These people all had names, faces, stories, something amazing about them, but I never took the time to connect with them as people. Sure I knew their names, the little details your coworkers learn over time, but I never saw them, only viewed them.
I work with Ambrya Baldwin. From that experience alone I could tell you she’s brilliant. Ambrya is capable of doing the work of a dozen people where most would struggle to do the work of one. Her knowledge is incredible, but her mind is also flexible; she is always learning. She is a great copy editor. (Coming from a working writer that is a complement of astounding proportions, that I can make knowing my work will be no easier for it.)
She is also returning to her blog. It’s a blog about parenting, something I know nothing about, blended with Ambrya’s very special blend of sarcasm and snark, something I know a little more about. This is what drew me to connecting with her over a videoconference, to bond with another person entering the madcap Wild West of blogging. I don’t know that there is anything I can tell her she doesn’t already know, but being a writer can be a lonely calling, we need to bond.
And yet if this were all I learned of Ambrya it would be a shame. She’s so much more. Ambrya is the mother of two children, divorced, working, and finding her way through it all with incredible poise. Her laugh is infectious, her voice deceptively soft, belying the power underneath. She has the wisdom that comes from walking down the road and occasionally wandering off it to see what’s behind the trees.
There is no curtain with Ambrya Baldwin. She may be the most authentic soul I have ever met. What you see is what you get because it is all laid out on the table. It’s a remarkable way to live, brave, passionate, and honest.
Ambrya has a mantra.
“What would you do it you had 5 minutes of actual confidence?”
It’s a simple question with simple answers. They just might not be the answers you want to hear. Before she makes a decision, when the feeling of worry has crept as high as it can, she asks herself this question. Then she jumps.
I wonder if we could all be so brave. Could you or I ask ourselves one question and then jump without a net? What would we do if we had 5 minutes of actual confidence? If we were brave for less than 10 minutes? I don’t have an answer for this. My jumps tend to be made with little to no thought, overriding my fears by not giving them an option and sorting it out later. I don’t know if I have her courage.
We live in an age of hero worship. Our eyes constantly seek out the image of some titan, some uniquely qualified individual, triumphing over undeniably impossible odds to save us from some unspeakable menace. They’re everywhere. Costumed gods with amazing powers dance across screens the size of houses, while our uniformed service members and civil servants are hailed at every moment.
It is easy in a world so full of heroes to lose sight of what real courage is because our heroes seem so invincible. We begin to view the strong and the brave as one in the same. But we forget how much courage it takes to be open, to be ourselves, to raise a child, to build something we love, to wake up everyday and risk being broken, especially when we have been broken before. In the end the Avengers will triumph, but we don’t know what our future holds.
Real courage is getting up in the morning and moving forward, knowing you can be hurt, knowing you can fail, but still moving forward. Real superheroes are all over; you probably pass a few of them on your way to work. If you don’t believe me, know this one thing, somewhere in Texas this morning, one of the bravest people I know woke up and began moving forward. Neither you, nor I, nor the movement of the planets themselves will stop her.
I know this. She does too.
Ambrya Baldwin has a mantra, a question she asks at the many precipices of life. Her courage isn’t in asking the question, it’s in answering, in following through.
So, what would you do with 5 minutes of actual confidence?