Wednesday, May 10

Deep thoughts...by Danielle Black

I have often wondered about the concept of resiliency. (Now, some of you mental health professionals know much more about this than me, who vaguely remembers learning the term in my class Working with At-Risk Students. So, this is mere thinking, nothing more.) I've thought before that we, in middle class America, seemingly don't need to possess the resiliency that others do. When I spent almost 5 months living in Kenya, I saw children and adults who's struggle to survive was so incredible, I didn't know how to store it. My friend from Liberia, for instance, postponed returning to boarding school for a night at his mom's request, which ended up saving his life as that night rebels came into the school and destroyed every"thing"....literally. Then, that same friend ended up also losing his mom, dad, girlfriend, and, I believe, some siblings as well to the same wretched war. While this story was somewhat extreme, the theme was incredibly common. And yet the Africans that I interacted with still had reason to smile, laugh, give...it is amazing. Remember that movie Tears of the Sun? There's footage at the beginning of the movie that was from a documentary about Sierre Leone. It was true and it was light compared to some of the rest of the documentary. Karl wouldn't even let me watch it because of its gruesomeness. Anyway, with true stories like this, I've wondered how many in the U.S. crumble under seemingly much less "significant" setbacks. The resiliency factor for some of us is weak--we can't, as Jack Nicholson says in A Few Good Men, handle the pressure. But then there are people like my precious friend, Ashli, that handle the pressure incredibly well. She has adenoid cystic carcenoma, and yet she still smiles, laughs, and gives to her students selflessly. Now, she seems to think that her smile is a joke as the tumor in her head is greatly affecting the nerves in her face, but I think she's beautiful and the life that is emanating from her even in spite of her circumstances is greater than it has been in a long time. She is an inspiration to me. (If you want to see what I mean, you can check out her blog @ heplera.blogspot.com.) Not only her, but there are others in my life circle that are inspirational with their abilities to look beyond circumstances and see life and love and hope....those things that keep all of us going. I salute these amazing people in my life. So, it is upon further reflection, that while we in middle-class America may not have some of the horrifying stories that others have had to live through, we have our stories nonetheless--stories of life and loss, joy and mourning, and though each of our circumstances are different, we are all a part of the human story, and we all must find the resiliency needed to continue our journey. We really aren't that different, it's just that when we try to wrap our minds around the potential pain before it happens, we can't fathom being able to survive such blows. And yet we do. For if I've learned much about resiliency in my life, it's that struggle usually makes us stronger, and while I don't welcome these trials at the time, the fact remains that I would not be who I am without them.

4 comments:

Ashli Hepler said...

D- To be mentioned alongside the Africans is honor enough...it means more to have these things written by you than just about anyone -- after all, you've been up-close and personal and if anyone has seen me for who I really am -- in the quietest, darkest moments, it is you. I know you & Karl have grieved and longed and prayed for me to return to the light for more than just spiritual reasons. Because in some sense there was a period of time where you actually really lost your friend. One of the things that I look forward to most on this journey is actually really becoming the person that you guys have always seen in me -- which, if I have never really told you, is part of what sustained me when there was really little else. There will never be a moment where I don't view you as my sister, Karl as my brother, and your kids, my kids (I can't afford Christmas and birthdays for many more, though. Keep up with the pill). I love you all more than words can express. This blog comment cannot do it justice and there are tears streaming as I type to you because I haven't seen you for almost a week and now I'm gone for a week and then I'll be gone for who knows how many more :(

Schmanny said...

Ash, Wow! What an incredible comment--definitely more than I deserve. I have no words, except to say that the familial feelings are definitely mutual, I'll keep up the pill, and I really hope that the period of time you're home in between Hawaii and Caly (again) is one where we can spend a lot more time together. I LOVE YOU!

I miss my WhiteMomma said...

i just want to express my feelings this is one amazing woman. i love her so much she has taught me so much in so little of a time period. if only i could bring her back into my life. she was and still is very special to me. i miss her more than anything. if only i could turn back heads of time. i miss you white momma RIP gone but but never ever forgotten.'


your Ruby

I miss my WhiteMomma said...

I LOVE THE BLACKS I HAD FUN WITH YOU WHILE ASH WAS IN CALI . I CANT BELEIVE YOU HAD ME TRY DEER MEAT AND WHAT A SURPRISE I ENJOYED IT.. LOVE YOU TELL THE BOYS I SAID HELLO