As we learn to see the constructed-ness   of what we commonly call ‘reality’ then we begin to glimpse that very few things can be thought as truly enduring. When we put down our preferred ways of seeing our environment and, perhaps for the first time, start seeing things as they really then we start to sense the tremendous uncertainties that are around us. After we sit with this awareness for some time then we being to sense that uncertainty and change open up new fields of opportunity. Eventually we realise that seeing, sensing and sitting are ‘necessary but not sufficient’ conditions – we have to act – somehow.

Ekhart Tolle has a neat way of describing this eventual realisation.

“If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it or accept it totally.” (Power of Now (1999) Chapter 4).

The way Ekhart puts it is quite straightforward – continue, leave, change it. But is straightforward easy?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that we really do not want our choices to be this straightforward. I’m suggesting that all those things that we had to bring within our apprehension were originally ‘hidden’ because we did not want to really to bring them into awareness in the first place. What we actually put down were our psychological defences – we took off our protective clothing and so here we are – naked so to speak – with three simple choices – continue, leave or change it. Why would we do this? Why would we not want to know that our choices are clear? Because if our choices are so clear and all we have to do is choose one then to do none of those things means that we are cowards. We would rather run away and hide from having to make a choice.

Which leads me to my thoughts on courage for I believe it takes courage to commit to one of Ekhart’s three choices. What type of courage am I talking about? Is it Dutch courage that we need? Dutch courage is when you find courage through something that suppresses your fear – giving soldiers alcohol so they will choose something (put their life on the line) that they would not choose if they were sober. Does that sound like an ethical goal commitment process to make one of Ekhart’s choices – I don’t think so.

I have found a type of courage that I think is applicable to Ekhart’s choices. It is called 2-o’clock in the morning courage and it is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte.

“As to moral courage, I have very rarely met with the two o’clock in the morning kind. I mean unprepared courage, that is necessary on an unexpected occasion, and which, in spite of the most unforeseen events, leaves full freedom of judgement and decision.”

That I think is why we do what we do. We extol to our clients and ourselves that we want/need to see things as they truly are in order to spot hazard and sense opportunity. We tell ourselves that we want to get to the deepest level, that we wish to make fundamental change in order to create our preferred futures. We push closer and closer to that point in time when we actually realise what our choices are – do we continue with this life, do we leave and create a new life or do we try to make this life better – and then we find out how brave we really are … at 2 o’clock in the morning.

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