The Red Badge of Courage (1895) is unlike many popular, high literature novels that I have read thus far. Full of symbol marks one significant attribute for this masterpiece written by Stephen Crane. That leads to the title of the novel itself that chooses red to symbolize bravery, one particular message that the author wishes to highlight.
I found it very hard to comprehend the novel back at early semester during university years in Yogyakarta. Our lecturer selected this story as reading material which quite shocked me as a pupil who didn’t get accustomed to reading heavy content as found in the book. Shortly put, I was completing reading the novel with one profound impression that has filled my mind until today.
The whole story presented me on internal struggle within the heart of the protagonist namely Henry Fleming, a young private of the Union Army who fled from the field of battle. The novel takes American Civil War as the background. Throughout the book, I was invited to witness Henry’s psychological change from cowardice to hero as the novel concluded.
Despite the fact I don’t really like this book, the main message and the protagonist impress me so much. Henry’s experiences resonate, I believe, struggles all human beings as long as they live. Not each of us fights in real war like Henry did. Inner war is so commonplace in each of our heart’s minds and hearts, whether or not we realize it.
Every day we make choices, some are essential ones. From what we are going to eat for lunch to deciding which next holiday destination, we are living our lives based upon choices. I call those instances as easy ones. There are far more difficult selections that we have to decide. As we grow older, we experience many events that leave us scars, unforgettable moments or heartbreaks.
Within split of seconds, all of sudden they come in and out when we take breaks after hectic days at work or in one of the delightful afternoons you always long for. This may cause some hesitate to simply contemplate with no particular thoughts in their minds. When go unnoticed, our minds can be dangerous. Like it or not, it’s a hard fact to accept most of can’t fully just.
Most of us (or all of us) find it hard to put everything at balance. We can get stuck in old memories most of the times. Past moments, good or bad, can drag our feet from moving on. Some can get too absorbed in the moment and forget what their future days will look like. Therefore, they spend too much money for short-time pleasant luxury or say hateful words to others upon trivial matters. They forget each of them may disadvantage them in the near term. On the other hand, some of us think too much about the future that they may neglect the future depends so much on their past and the present time.
As past, present and future can’t live without one another, our minds battle everyday to make choices. Good news is that we can train our minds to come out as a hero. We can be like Henry Fleming in our internal conflicts.
Whether or not you are religious, admitting that you need God for taking care of your minds is an efficient starter. That leads you to understand you don’t have to conquer the battle when all thoughts come rushing through your mind at the same time. That helps you to shift focus not to always win all of the battles when you can’t find peace.
As your relationship with God strengthens, you will easily find tranquility even when messy thoughts attack your mind. At least, you know how to get relaxed or take some seconds of rest. Don’t force yourself to make decisions when your minds aren’t at ease.
As you get used to that, you will come to the point where not all thoughts are worthy of following-up. You will get trained to filter thoughts that must be taken care of for the rest of your life. Sometimes you need to shake them off, as I quoted Taylor Swift’s hit song.
Doing those steps require long process and we may stumble upon them on a daily basis. That leads us back again to God’s help along the way. After our hard struggles within ourselves, we come to believe that what matters most in our life is very simple and concrete. Blurry, unnecessary thoughts, people’ harsh comments will no longer that much influential in our lives anymore. We will reach the point where we need to put forward our future in this world and the hereafter without forgetting what lessons the past teaches us and neglecting our current feelings.
That completely becomes our minute-to-minute or even second-to-second problem even for some of us. We have to start practicing prioritizing things that matter so much in our lives then stick to that. Get used to act like a spectator as you watch your mind battles; between negativity and positivism, complaint versus gratitude, past versus future and many more.
Take a seat, put your glasses on and eat popcorn. Enjoy how your mind wrestles then come out from the arena as a winner by returning to things or people that bring high importance in your life.