“Kids are so resilient!” I’ve heard that expressed so many times and thought it myself in witnessing the escapades and near-misses that are part and parcel of life with grandkids. But do we lose that resilience as we age? Certainly, had I taken the face plant that my youngest grand did last night, I would not have rebounded to continue on my happy skipping around the room.
How we handle life’s detours and disappointments is a pretty good indicator of our level of resilience. Take, for example, the story of Kevin Cotter, whose wife divorced him but left behind her wedding gown with the instruction to do with it whatever he pleased. Rather than letting this incident devastate him, he turned to humor, creating a blog to document over 100 ways he could make use of the dress: a fishing net, jump rope, and oven mitt, to name a few. Getting the idea?
Or consider Maureen, a bedridden elderly woman mentioned in Johann Christoph Arnold’s book “Be Not Afraid: Overcoming the Fear of Death” who set goals for herself of living past the year 2000 (check) and reaching age 100 (also achieved). In his words, “In resisting old age with every fiber of her being, she has literally kept herself alive.”
And even in reaching death’s door, there are countless stories of those who have held on for one last visit from a loved one, to hear from that loved one that he or she will be ok, before letting go. I personally experienced such an event when I had my elder care business in Louisville. We took a client from the hospital to home, on Hospice, with a hole in her stomach that went through to her internal organs. She lived to see her granddaughter graduate from college and to grow her vegetable garden one more time. Solely based on her resilience and determination.
Our will to live (and thrive) in spite of the obstacles and odds, and for good to overcome evil, remains deeply rooted throughout our lives. In spite of the recent political turmoil that’s dividing our nation in unprecedented ways, we can’t help but seek the silver lining, the lessons to be learned, the hope for this generation and those to come.
Whether there’s a fairy tale ending where everyone lives happily ever after – or not – one thing is certain: we, as the resourceful individuals that we are, will find a way to make the best of even the most trying circumstances. It is up to each and every one of us to determine how we best make the best of what has been dealt us.
As Robert Frost points out, “In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: It goes on.”