If someone asked me to describe myself, I don’t think I’d include “brave” in my answer. I tend to prefer safe and peaceful as opposed to adventurous and extreme. But the bravery is there. I’ve had experiences where I’ve been in danger, or where I chose to step up to the plate to help another person who was in danger.
In other words, I’ve been in the right place, at the right time, when the universe presented the chance for me to dig deep into my well of courage and take my turn. One such experience occurred in my life when, from behind the wheel of my car, I witnessed a woman getting robbed and beaten in front of an ATM machine in a Vons supermarket parking lot.
Without thinking, I stopped driving, flung open the door of my car and began chasing her attacker on foot, before I realized that the more prudent thing to do would be to turn my focus on the victim of the crime and do what I could to help her. I remember thinking before I threw myself into this scary situation, “Okay, this is it. It’s my turn to help, regardless of how afraid I am.”
I caught the eye of the woman rushing to the rescue, and recognized her expression – fearful, yet determined.
Several weeks after the parking lot incident, I was driving on the old Pasadena freeway when I saw a bad accident occur on the other side of the median. A woman in a minivan, with two toddlers in the back, had been broadsided by another car that had fled the scene. Just as I was preparing to take the next exit to turn around and offer my help, I saw a car screech to a stop on the shoulder of the freeway right behind the minivan. Out of that car shot another woman lunging from her vehicle to go tend to the injured mother and her kids.
As I passed by the whole chaotic scene, it was as if everything starting moving in slow motion. For an instant, I caught the eye of the woman who was rushing to the rescue. I recognized her expression – fearful, yet determined. This time, it was her turn, and ready or not, she was willing to take it. Ready or not, she was about to become suddenly brave.
Amy Shouse is a Los Angeles native who lives and writes in Santa Monica.