On January 20th, in a NY Times guest essay, Ms. Gorman shared that she nearly defaulted on her history-making inaugural invitation.
Prior to the inauguration, she was filled with expectable terror. Fearing the judgment of others (and herself), the virulence of COVID-19, and the violence of extremists who could once again deface the Capitol, she considered passing on the whole inaugural poet “opportunity.”
She took to her quill to awaken her own courage and today she also reinvigorated mine.
“Fear Can be Love Trying its Best in the Dark”
We’re conditioned to avoid, abolish, obliterate fear as if it’s the cause of suffering and destruction.
Too often, difficult emotions are equated with the destructive reactions they sometimes inspire. An officer shoots an unarmed (alleged) assailant in response to fear. A black child who’s done no harm runs from an officer – fight-or-flight triggering a cascade of fear-related death and destruction.
But fear is love, hope, and wisdom, knocking on our door if only we can respond rather than react.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
“Maybe being brave enough doesn’t mean lessening my fear, but listening to it.”
A leader is someone who faces fear, nurtures wisdom, speaks the truth, and inspires listeners to do the same.
How does someone so young become so wise? Raised up by generations of pen-clad warriors, Ms. Gorman commits relentlessly to embracing fear, unraveling its message, and responding accordingly. And so, she becomes the next welcoming hand for the generation that follows.
As her elder, I’m humbled, and can only respect her wisdom, climb that hill alongside her, and elevate her as the leader we’ve been lacking.