20 Seconds of Courage…Why Not?”

20 Seconds of Courage pic

Serious Session Alert! Some of my FB notes do go all the way back to 2007, but this one was originally posted this past year. Since fear often immobilizes me and I think fear is the biggest reason why I don’t change in a positive way, this notion really, really helped me. I hope it does the same for you, too:

Yesterday was one of “those days.” A good deal of it was due to my tendency to make an entire mountain range out of one molehill. Okay, so maybe it was more like one anthill. But, have you seen the anthills in Texas??? Some of them are bigger than any old molehill, even if the mole is the size of a Labrador retriever.

So, as I was freaking out, yet again, I decided to watch a little television to divert my attention to something less “rocky.” Since my mind couldn’t handle a lot, I tuned into “We Bought a Zoo,” a movie I had already seen in the theaters. To be honest, the movie had not impressed me that much. I considered it a “feel-good fluff piece.” But, I think that is because this is a movie where profound truths are delivered simply. In other words, it actually portrays real life, as opposed to some contrived, Hollywood-infused version of the truth.  For the record, Hollywood did take some liberties with the actual account of events, but I get the impression that a good deal of it is based in fact.

I had to watch it twice before some of the key phrases in the movie hit full force, but a few actually penetrated my thick skull. Here is the most minor of the concepts: That telling my children stories about their family and telling them the precise moment they started can be very special.  And that moment wasn’t conception; Benjamin Mee (the protagonist) would tell you it is the moment we first lay eyes on our spouses and the magic of that particular moment. It almost makes me want to revisit a softball field in West Lafayette, IN with my kids in tow.

But, perhaps the points that are more relevant to daily life have to do with something Benjamin’s brother taught him when he was young: It only takes 20 seconds of courage for something amazing to happen. Benjamin employed that thought to actually meet his future wife. He later encouraged his teenage son to do the same to repair a damaged relationship. He described that 20 seconds as “insane”, “terrifying,” and “embarrassing.” But, he told his son that when you venture to be that insane, terrified, and embarrassed, magical things happen every time.

When asked why he, who had no idea how to run a zoo, had bought one, he paused for a great deal of time and finally said, “Why not?” At first you think that Benjamin just pulled that out of the air because he had no better response to the question.  But, at the end of the film, you realize that “Why not?” was actually something that had been said to him by someone influential in his life. I won’t tell you who, since it would spoil the end of the movie for those who have not seen it, but suffice it to say, it hit me hard.

What are we, as individuals, as a society, as a world, missing out on because we are too afraid to venture a risky question, a risky, small move, or an idea? And what would happen if we all adopted the 20 second rule and just tried to be brave for 20 seconds? It may be that someone might magically say, “Why not?” in response to that terrifying question or idea. It may be that the situation improves. It may be that we get a much needed hug during a dark hour in our lives. It might be that we do something rather dramatic, like cure cancer, save a life or end world hunger. I like to think that Rosa Parks started a Civil Rights Movement just by being brave for 20 seconds….and really tired! And isn’t it interesting that we refer to it as “Movement”?

Benjamin’s wise brother also told him (when things do not look good for Mr. Mee), “If it’s the right thing to do, then nothing can stop you.”  Benjamin said he liked adventure and that buying a zoo was definitely an adventure. Perhaps that is how we should all view life–as an adventure, where sometimes the ride is a little bumpy and a little unpredictable, but thrilling in the end, because it’s the right thing to do.

What would be different for you if you were brave for 20 seconds and took “the road less traveled”–the adventurous route?  What would be different if that adventure led to accomplishing the right thing for ourselves, our communities and our society?

Do you have 20 seconds of courage today? If so, can you summon up enough will to be that insane, terrified and embarrassed? Perhaps you’re asking yourself why I would pose such a question to you today?

Why not? 🙂

Note on PTPC’s: You do not have to do ALL of these. Pick the one(s) that work for you. I’ll be happy if you just consider one of the following PTPC’s for this post!

Point to Ponder Challenge # 1: Watch the movie, “We Bought a Zoo” if you haven’t seen it so far. Here’s a link to various formats, if you don’t have this movie: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_15?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=we+bought+a+zoo+book&sprefix=We+Bought+a+Zoo%2Caps%2C210

Point to Ponder Challenge # 2: Read the book, “We Bought a Zoo,” if you haven’t so far. I’m a Kindle user, so here’s the Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/We-Bought-Zoo-Amazing-ebook/dp/B001EMHNXA/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1358955573&sr=8-4&keywords=we+bought+a+zoo+book

Point to Ponder Challenge # 3: What fear(s) are immobilizing you? Write them down. Sometimes, recognition is the first step to change.

Point to Ponder Challenge # 4: What would you do with your 20 seconds of courage if fear wasn’t stopping you?  Write it down. 


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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 24th, 2013 at 7:00 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. January 24th, 2013 | Miranda says:

    I agree with you about We Bought A Zoo containing a bit of a Hollywood fluff feel, especially when you have a child actor as adorable as that little girl.
    But I also agree that fear is the reason we stay comfortable. Lately, I’ve been incredibly terrified of my life because I decided that I was going to take the steps towards graduating early. I have no clue where I’ll be going, what I’ll do next, and frankly, if I’ll even make it out alive!
    But what I love most about this post and the movie is “If it’s the right thing to do, then nothing can stop you.”
    So thank you for sharing this with me today and reminding me that working my tail off will end up making me better once I finish.

  2. January 24th, 2013 | maryann says:

    You go, girl! One day I will be able to say of you, “I knew her when…” 🙂

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