"She stood in the storm
and when the wind did not blow her away,
she adjusted her sails."
Charles Krauthammer, who was a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post, died earlier this summer. He was by no means a political kindred spirit of mine, but I was drawn to read more about his life. I didn't know until recently that he was paralyzed in a diving accident when he was a first year medical student. With the help of many, but one professor in particular, he graduated from medical school and became a psychiatrist. He later became a political columnist.
The Washington Post opened their archives and I read some of his columns. One he wrote about resilience. In it, he talks about Roy Hobbs, the hero of Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural,” a baseball prodigy who tries to return to the game after being shot.
“No one knows why Hobbs is shot,” he wrote. “It is fate, destiny, nemesis. Perhaps the dawning of knowledge, the coming of sin. Or more prosaically, the catastrophe that awaits everyone from a single false move, wrong turn, fatal encounter. Every life has such a moment. What distinguishes us is whether — and how — we ever come back.”
I have been thinking more about trauma and how it changes lives. As Dr. Krauthammer says, "every life has such a moment.". I have had mine. You have had yours. I feel comfort knowing that, as Robin Roberts' mother told her when she was diagnosed with cancer, "everybody's got something". Knowing that bad things happen to all of us, that it is part of the human condition, somehow feels better than isolating with the idea that it only happened to me.
And I've been thinking about resilience too. Here's a simple definition. Resilience is being able to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens. Bouncing back. Getting back up and moving forward. Resilience is understanding that the future will not be like the past.
Learning from what's happened. Perspective taking. Staying flexible. Adapting to the reality in front of you. Remembering what matters to you and moving towards it. Connecting with others, we are not alone.
And at the risk of being a Pollyanna, life can be better on the other side of trauma. While it can seem so bleak in the vortex of the emotions that swirl around a traumatic event, I have seen how the very awfulness of the event, how when everything you thought you could count on was suddenly not there, that upending of what feels like everything, can become the very thing that allows you to start again. New and yet more you than you've ever been. Fresh but not naive. Wiser but not cynical. Allowing experience to make us more of who we already are, that's resilience. :-)
I love this quote from a 2006 commencement speech by Stephen Colbert at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois:
“Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything.
Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us.
Cynics always say no.
But saying ‘yes’ begins things. Saying ‘yes’ is how things grow. Saying ‘yes’ leads to knowledge. ‘Yes’ is for young people.
So for as long as you have the strength to, say ‘yes.’”
Open hearted. ♥ Try it. Take a chance. Experiment. Nice.
What a treasure we have in Durham! So much in bloom at Duke Gardens yesterday. And the parking lot and overflow parking lots were full! If you’re anywhere close by, do make a trip there this spring. Even though it was crowded, it was easy to be in the nature and not feel like I was bumping up against people the whole time.
A few pictures. Enjoy. :-)
“Each experience in your life was absolutely necessary
in order to have gotten you to the next place….
up to this very moment.”
Continuing on the theme of gratitude, for what we have and what we don’t have…..
In the last post, I wrote about being grateful for the things I wanted that didn’t work out. Here’s another quote related to that. I like this idea of seeing our life experiences as beads on a necklace, links on a chain. Seeing all that has happened as necessary steps to put me on the path to the life I have now. I wouldn’t have my today without the yesterday.
Even the suffering.
Not that those experiences weren’t difficult, but that they were creating the way for what lay ahead.
How about you? Do you find this to be true in your own life?
“Remember to be grateful for what you never received.”
I read this today and couldn’t find the author but decided to post it anyway.
So much here to think about, all the things I have wanted that I didn’t get, and only afterwards to realize that thank goodness, I didn’t get it.
Or the relationships that didn’t work out that I mourned, only in retrospect to feel grateful, so grateful, that they didn’t.
Allowing space to be created for what I do have. And treasure.
So be grateful today for what you do have. And take a moment to appreciate what you don’t.
"When we recognize that we don’t have all the time in the world,
we see our priorities most clearly."
~ Laura Carstensen
My name is Carol J. Tadeusik. I am a licensed psychologist in Durham, North Carolina. I invite you to read my blog and get to know me and a bit about how I think. And by the way, I love comments!
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