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  • Writer's pictureMark J. Keenan


Last weekend, Karen and I attended an afternoon meditation retreat. It was held in Toodyay at the home of Rupert and Tanya, two incredibly kind and wonderful humans. The theme of the afternoon was self-acceptance and courage.

At one point, between meditations, Rupert was expressing his thoughts on courage versus willpower, and I had a moment of clarity.


Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.

Willpower is exerting control to do something or restrain impulses.


I did not stop drinking through willpower. My sobriety comes from my courage. As does all of the healthy and positive things in my life.

Writing requires vulnerability, authenticity, openness to let others see you. Through your words but their lens. You must know they can judge you, they may not like you, and you must do it anyway.

Living with loving kindness means tenderness, calmness, compassion. These things take practice, and requires openness to things which might not sit well with you, and which may scare you.

Building self-acceptance (a continual work-in-progress) brings with it a need to face who you are, who you might have been, and who you might to be.

Courage can be mental, physical, and spiritual. It can be as outwardly simple as not sending a message to someone when you are annoyed at them, to something as challenging as changing a lifetime habit. And it can be cultivated.

Sometimes, it's easier to say "I don't feel up to it" when faced with something which we know needs to be done, or something we'd like to change. I understand. I get it. But if we can take one thing, small as it might be, and use our courage to do something different today, then tomorrow that same thing might just be easier.

The photograph was taken in 2019, when I was running an ultramarathon on the south-west coast of Western Australia. The quote, lyrics written by the incredible Jacob Bannon, have been on the image since not long after the run. I put them there because, at the time, I felt courageous tackling such a long and arduous event. I was, but I've now realised there are many smaller, and more impressive, ways in which I have shown courage in my daily life.


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