Downtown Durham April 10, 2019
Photo by Jim Rogalski

Just exactly what is courage and where does it come from? Are we trained to act courageously? Is it instinct? Are we taught courage? How do we know whether or not we are courageous? I have my own thoughts about it, but first I would like to share two stories of courage from this week.

The photo above was taken in my city Wednesday morning after an explosion from a cut gas line. My school is several miles away so we felt none of the effects of the horrific blast that left one person dead and at least two dozen more injured. Life is short, mes amis. It can be gone in the blink of an eye.

The photo, taken by Jim Rogalski, has been widely circulated. I looked at it several times before learning that the man in the foreground is a friend and former student. He works downtown, said he smelled the gas and knew exactly what had happened when he felt the blast. He headed out into the street to help the injured. A restaurant he co-owns is just down the street from the destroyed building. It became headquarters for the firefighters and first responders and for those needing assistance in the aftermath of the explosion. Courage in the face of disaster.

The second act of courage came in the form of a 13-year-old student who got up in front of her peers and teachers Friday morning to speak publicly, for the first time, about her battle with a rare form of cancer. She has shied away from talking about it for fear of being labeled the “cancer kid.” She, like all 7th grade girls I know and have ever known (and the one I once was), just wants to be like everyone else. And she is like everyone else on the outside. She has beautiful dark brown curly hair, a smile that lights up the room, an infectious laugh, and a great sense of humor. And more courage than anyone I know. She stood up to talk about herself because she has found a cause, something much bigger than herself. She wants to help other children with cancer and their families. She deems herself lucky. Yes, she used that very word. Her parents can be with her in the hospital. They’ve been by her side for every night spent in the hospital, every surgery, and for every treatment she has received in the past two years. She realizes that this is not the case for all children. Some parents simply cannot be there 24/7. They have to stay home and work to pay the bills and take care of the family. They cannot miss work or a single paycheck. The cause that this young lady has found is Just Tryan It. She has involved my advisory group and we have a team, The Goats. (They gave themselves this nickname early in the year… Greatest of All Time.) We have met our goal of raising $5000 a month before the actual race and they now they want to up the goal by another $1000. Did I mention they are just a little bit competitive? She used this slide in her presentation:

It isn’t about her, it’s about helping other children and their families. Here is the link to our fundraising page:

So, courage. We don’t know if we have it or not unless we find ourselves in the face of disaster. Whether it is helping others or fighting for our own lives. As a parent, I know the feeling of wanting to protect my children from any adversity or harm. But I also know that I can’t do that. We become courageous and resilient from having to dig down deep inside of ourselves and then looking beyond ourselves to see what others need. We make ourselves vulnerable, both physically and emotionally, because we are needed. No, not everyone has it. But I am thankful for the seemingly ordinary humans out there who are so courageous. They are angels in disguise.

Much love to both of you, my courageous friends. I love you and am proud to know you. The world is a better place because of you.

One of my Goats found this recipe as part of a French class assignment. I plan to make it later today or tomorrow. They have to use Marmiton, a French cooking website, for their project. This salad makes me think of my summer days in Provence… Simple and delicious. I changed some of the quantities in order to make a smaller size of the salad.

Pasta with Peppers and Goat Cheese

1-1/2 red peppers

1 green pepper

12 oz of pasta (I am thinking corkscrew or bowtie)

4 oz soft goat cheese (it comes in logs- use however much you want)

7 oz crème fraîche (plain sour cream can be used if you can’t find crème fraîche but it will change the taste slightly)



Herbes de Provence

Wash, remove the seeds, and dice the peppers. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the peppers until they are soft. Add salt, pepper, and the herbes de Provence (to taste), lower the flame, and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Add the goat cheese, cut into small pieces, and the crème fraîche to the peppers. Cook for 2 minutes. Serve on top of the pasta.

Bon appétit! Happy April to all! Some of us may never be called upon to be courageous in a big way, but we can all find ways to be kind every day and help our fellow human beings. Thank you for reading.

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