Well, this daily writing on the blog experiment has proved to be challenging – as anticipated. I can easily pump out several hundred words each day in my journal – meandering and mostly self-centered thoughts that usually culminate in a ritualistic self-bashing session.
But since more eyes will fall on this writing, I want there to be some sort of point to the daily meanderings. And it’s been a good challenge, because often just getting started takes me to places I didn’t even realize I would go. And I’m liking that. It feels more creative than the ‘information-based’ writing I do and have done for other venues.
I sheepishly admit I’ve already missed one or two days. Rosie’s departure and an unexpected weekend job pulled me away from the computer and my commitment. But I’m feeling pretty good about pulling it off 6 days a week. So, instead of chewing myself out for not meeting the daily goal, I will be content if I manage to post 6 days each week on this blog for the rest of the month.
Today I wanted to write just a little on resilience – the resilience of the human spirit, and why is it that some people have it, and others not so much? Why do some people rise above their ‘story,’ while others may wallow in despair for years or even decades?
I haven’t even dived in yet to this week’s chapter of A Year With Myself, I’ve only read the introductory page. But the overarching theme is Our Stories. Owning and embracing our story, rewriting our story to fit who were are now. I’m looking forward to spending some journal time with this one.
I worked with a friend this past weekend whose story never ceases to amaze me. I keep learning more pieces each time I see him. It’s a heartbreaking story of loss and illness and recovery. But what amazes me about this friend (I’ll call him J) is how he has managed to travel through all this pain and emerge one of the most energetic, positive and loving people I know.
Both of J.’s parents were killed in separate car accidents within two weeks of each other when he was seven years old. His youthful father had recently been released from prison where he’d spent time for drug offenses. In first and second grade, J. lived in a rough neighborhood where he routinely confronted bullies on his way to school. He learned how to fight then. But you’d never know it now if you met this gentle man.
When his parents were killed J. moved in with his aunt and uncle who soon became ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’. But tragedy, violence and grief still stalked that family.
At 22, J. was suddenly afflicted with a rare disease (caused by a polio vaccine) which left him completely paralyzed for 87 days. At the time he was married to a mentally unstable woman and had a young baby. He walked out of work one day, his legs gave way, and next thing he knew he was in a hospital bed unable to move.
Nothing worked in his body for those 87 days. Eventually he had to learn how to walk and talk again. The disease will never go away and now, almost 20 years later J. still deals with debilitating chronic pain.
But, as I said, if you were to meet this man you would never, ever guess at the challenges he has faced! He now is remarried, has a beautiful family, holds down a few jobs and teaches Pilates. Despite his physical limitations, one of his favorite hobbies is river rafting down the wild and scenic rivers of Northern California.
Best of all, he laughs. He laughs and smiles all the time. He has boundless energy. Everyone loves J. because he is just so much fun to be around.
I realized this weekend that J. is somewhat of a hero, and I told him he should write down his story to share with others who might gain strength from it.
And it got me thinking. I sometimes feel so held back by my own (piddly compared to J.) story. I can’t even imagine trying to raft down a river with unless my body felt pain-free. I hesitate to sing and dance in public because big, scary people told me I suck.
I have allowed myself to get stuck in some of those old stories, for them to depress me and color my outlook on the world.
Granted, some of it is just personality – some people do see that half-full glass no matter that it’s nearly drained. J. is one of them.
Resilience. J’s got it by the boatload. I picked the word for my Angel Card the other day. I didn’t know what it meant for me at the time.
Now, I’m thinking: Yes, be resilient. So what if you get punched? Get up again and give it another go. So what if you fail at one endeavor? Time to move onto something new. Laugh about it and move on.
It’s all about the journey and having fun along the way. Thanks J!