Am I brave ? At one time I could have easily answered this with a resounding "No!". These days I am not so sure about that.
When I was a small child I was very cautious. I was the non athletic kid who would go out of his way to avoid getting picked for any kind of physical contact sport, usually claiming some kind of mystery ailment. I would often spend entire summers reading in my room, stressing about heatstroke and allergies, in order to avoid having to play football with the overly aggressive neighborhood kids. I remember refusing to ride the local roller coaster ( The Tornado at Adventureland amusement park ) for years. Always pointing to the warning sign that said people with heart conditions were not allowed on the ride and of course a heart murmur was a valid heart condition ( which I had as a very small child ). It's not that I was a coward, I was just cautious.
Well a few years ago I had an experience that changed my opinion about myself and the bravery question. A sort of trial by fire.
It was about 3:30 in the morning and I was awoken by the sound of my dog barking and my wife shaking me. Apparently the dog had been barking and scratching at the end of the bed and then running downstairs to the second floor ( our bedroom is on the 3rd in a converted attic ). So I crawled out of bed, preparing myself to shoo some errant child back to bed, and padded down to the second floor landing.
After a quick check I realized all the kids were in their beds, but when I looked down at the dog, she was staring intently downstairs with her tail between her legs. Then I heard it, that unmistakeable sound of someone rifling through a drawer, coming from the living room downstairs. It was one of those rare moments where the reality of imminent danger just slaps you in the face. As I looked down those stairs my stomach just dropped and I looked at the first floor landing as if through a tunnel. My body became very cold and still as fear washed over me and then the strangest thing happened. All that fear and foreboding instantly disappeared and was replaced by anger. No not anger, rage.
It was like a switch was flipped. All I could think of was this criminal broke into MY house and was a threat to MY family. I had no thoughts concerning my safety or if he had a weapon ( which he did ) only that I had to protect my family and that this intruder was never going to do this to anyone ever again. As adrenaline kicked in ( it was exactly like what you see in the movies when someone gets a needle full of adrenaline in the heart ) I screamed at the top of my lungs, " I'm gonna kill you motherf@#$er " and launched myself down the stairs. When I look back on this moment I realized that my feet only touched about 4 out of the 25 steps and that I was only wearing boxers. I landed in the living room just in time to see a man dressed in a black hoodie with my nintendo Wii in his hands bolt from living room towards the back door in the kitchen. At this point I was in full berserker mode, all I wanted to do was utterly destroy this guy, so I let out a primal scream and chased this criminal out into my back yard. He was lucky enough to have about 10 feet on me and a get away driver in a stolen car in the alley behind my house. Fortunately for him he managed to get away ( the good news, in his haste to get away, he drove the stolen car right down the street he stole it from at the same time 2 cops were responding to an auto theft call...lol dumbass ).
As I stood there in my boxers with my hands balled into fists watching this criminal drive away, I realized something. I had never in my life felt more alive. I wasn't afraid, I was pissed and it was glorious. So now when asked if I consider myself brave. I think that when it really counted, without even thinking about it, I rose to the occasion. So yes, I consider myself brave.