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.