Nietzsche told us, "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." As a tried and true coward, it is a sentiment that I was never actually very fond of. Clearly some things could just plain kill us, or leave us broken and damaged beyond repair.
There are so many ways to stay safe, but a safe life is not necessarily a happy one. Without hardship, not only do we grow weak, but we also grow unappreciative. We cease to notice the blessings around us.
These thoughts may have led me to say yes to a naked swim in galvanized bucket on a warm, November afternoon. Yes again to Gus's request to jump off my parents's pier in preparation for the New Year's polar bear plunge. Because maybe they will catch colds, maybe the neighbors will look at me with barely concealed judgement, but in the end, maybe we were all just a little stronger.
Bravery can be manifested in unexpected ways. Challenge is good for character. A shock of cold offers its own rewards.