Saturday, August 11, 2012
Behind the Bravada
I was behind an Oldsmobile Bravada yesterday, right after hearing the term "bravada" on NPR. I love when that happens. It's as if the universe has decided to neatly collate itself in my mind. OR as if I am folding blueberries into pancake batter. Completely different images, both from my origami brain.
Anyway, the bravada on NPR was about the voice of the Mars rover Curiosity, in a story about the tweets from Mars on Morning Edition. Curiosity's tweets were given a male voice and a female voice, and scientist Stephanie Smith said Curiosity spoke with "well-earned bravada." This sent me scurrying toward the word "bravada," which we often hear changed into "bravado," often used to mean a show of bravery, or swagger, even if no real courage exists, or there's not much foundation for the apparent confidence. But the real and root meaning, from a Spanish term, does go back or "wild" and "brave," so "well-earned bravada" can refer to a swagger based on true boldness, backed by action!
This, by the way, was swagger as expressed in tone of voice and choice of phrasing. (And it's hard to convey tone at all electronically, so mainly choice of phrasing.) You can hear it all at the link to "Followers Embrace Curiosity's Mars Tweets."
Then my brain folded back to that phrase "fake it till you make it," which can mean swagger until you succeed, which is something I cannot do myself. Odd, since I worked as an actor, I suppose, but I can't really fake it. I have to mean it. "It," whatever it is, has to come from somewhere real and deep in me, so I have to summon real courage and real competence to succeed at anything.
Curiosity can be my robot role model, then, thanks to her "well-earned bravada."
I am unlikely ever to own or drive an Oldsmobile Bravada.
Anyhoo, I admire and forgive those who can "fake it till they make it," even when it comes off as a bit arrogant. We are all on a difficult journey, I imagine. Look at this nice quotation (thanks to poet Kelli Russell Agodon) from David Rakoff--another NPR connection, This American Life--from his book Half Empty:
"People are really trying their best. Just like being happy and sad, you will find yourself on both sides of the equation many times over your lifetime, either saying or hearing the wrong thing. Let's all give each other a pass, shall we?"