Brave, etymologically from Middle French, Old Italian, Old Spanish bravo courageous, wild, probably from Latin barbarous barbarous. 1: having or showing courage (courageous, not deterred by danger or pain) 2: making a fine show 3: excellent, splendid. (www.merriam-webster.com)
My family and I are in the process of moving 8,058 miles away from our current home, or one could say literally around the world (or technically at least a third of the way). Responses from friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances have run the spectrum of emotion and opinion. "Wow! What an adventure!" (We are counting on it). "Have you been there before?" (We have not). "You are doing WHAT?! Why would you want to do THAT?!" (We recognize a burning bush when we encounter it). However a few weeks ago my husband asked me, "You know what is the one thing that people say that has surprised me?" Without hesitation I responded, "That we are brave?"
"Yes! That just really throws me off," he shook his head with incredulous disbelief. After hearing this repeated sentiment, I decided perhaps I was missing something so I turned back to the etymological roots of "brave."
Webster initially pegs "brave" as "not deterred by danger or pain." Danger? Hanoi, Vietnam is a beautiful, and quite modern city that is extremely safe. One friend expressed concern for there being a danger of us not liking it. "What if you don't LIKE it?" The response that immediately sprang to mind was the analogy of leaving for college. Certainly there were times while I attended university that things were unfamiliar, and left me longing for the comfort of the familiar and home, but these moments of discomfort and challenges were far outweighed by the growth and positive experiences. Eventually college felt like it WAS my home while the people around me became more of my family. I believe moving will mirror those sentiments evoked by my time at the university. As for pain? No pain immediately springs to mind (unless you talk to my daughter who will relay her painful experience of mom selling the television). Perhaps one could count the undercurrent of pain coursing through our chests, as we bid farewell to so many people who are integrally woven into the fabric of our hearts. I reject "goodbyes" in favor of "hasta la vistas" and find this abates some of the sorrow.
The second entry of "making a fine show," well maybe there is something ringing true as this experience could qualify for a hilarious (sometimes dramatic) sitcom (or a reality show gone awry) as we attempt to pack up or parcel out seventeen years of married life and two children's worth of belongings into boxes and bins. My husband has set up buyers for both our vehicles, and my mom-mobile SUV of the past decade is already gone. Meanwhile I broker deals via e-mail and text to sell our major furniture items. Still it looks as though a clutter bomb was detonated in our house and we are left to sort out the stuff shrapnel. Heated arguments have ensued as various family members recognize different priorities as to how our dwindling time state-side should be spent, and like any "fine show" there has been jags of laughter, fits of tears, complications, resolutions, mishaps and mayhem.
Finally though, if I must concede bravery, I choose the third definition "excellent, splendid" as THAT is what I aspire towards personally and professionally within this endeavor. After sharing these upcoming years, I want my own children, and the students I will be blessed to encounter to have a sense of barbarous bravo or wild well done!