I didn’t want to go in with her.
I just wanted to sit outside and look at my phone. Then, when she got out, I could hide behind hospital policy.
That little voice–the Coward–was urging me on.
“You don’t have to go in. They already said no one except the patient was allowed in. What else can you do?”
My wife was scheduled to undergo an uncomfortable (at best) procedure to be sure that an earlier clinical finding wasn’t anything serious. I was dreading having to be in the room with her. I didn’t want to have to muster the courage to see it through.
But there was another voice inside me, a voice that had learned a valuable lesson in India: Sub Kooch Mileaga.
Everything is possible.
That phrase, coupled with a well-executed sub-continent head wobble, could open any door in India.
When they finally called my wife to change, this nurse also told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to go in. I could sit right outside though. I smiled and thanked her.
It was like my wife was conspiring with the inner Coward. “I guess that’s that.” Her eyes revealed her fear and sadness.
I shrugged, but inside I could feel myself begin to harden. The voice of responsibility I felt for my wife began to grow louder.
The Coward was still chattering, almost desperately. I think he knew I wasn’t yet giving up, though a part of me still wanted to.
When the doctor called my wife in, I followed. I got her in the bed and set up, held her hand.
The doctor turned to me. “You can wait outside. It’ll only take about 20 minutes.”
I didn’t move. “What if I stayed here instead?” (Top tip: What if questions engage the listeners imagination, meaning they have to think about whatever comes after the what if before they answer the question.)
“Well, I’m afraid that it’s not really policy. You see. I need to be able to work without being disturbed. And it’s only going to take about 20 minutes. It’s not policy.” He was beginning to run out of steam. Then he paused, and this was the critical moment.
I knew that if I said anything, I would be leaving the room. Instead, I just STFU and smiled.
“Ok, just stay there and don’t bother me, OK?”
“No problem, doctor. Thank you very much.”
He then proceeded to chat with me so much during the procedure I thought I was going to have to ask him to stop talking.
So what? What does this have to do with you?
It’s about courage. Being courageous is a masculine virtue. It is critical to your success as a masculine man, and that is critical to the success of your marriage.
It’s a demonstration of how easy it is to slide down into cowardice, how tempting and simple it can be to take the easy road and hide.
It’s not something you will ever be done with. You will never master courage. You will never be done exercising it. It can manifest itself in a 1000 different ways.
The trick is to notice the little voice of the Coward inside your head, notice when he’s whispering to you, trying to get you to take the easy way. That voice will never go away, but if you can better recognize it, then you will be less susceptible to acting in cowardice.