Father, Friend

Resilience

Sometimes you have to take a step back and admire the sheer resilience of others.

Oh, sure, the world is full of resilient people, continuing on with their lives against all odds. Citizens of war-torn countries. Minorities in America dealing with the inherent threats our society imposes on them. Whether Celebrities or Average Joes, there’s no shortage of hero’s journeys in the news about setbacks and suffering that lead to struggle and triumph.

But try as you might, those are numbers. Statistics. Abstractions. Even the stories written to manipulate your heartstrings won’t feel as real and personal as when it’s people you know.

Observing the resilience of friends and family members, in the face of headwinds, can be quite inspiring. Seeing your son get two major disappointments within hours of each other on one day, grieving briefly, but then rebounding, adjusting, and getting on with his life anyways. Learning about a friend fighting a dangerous medical condition, or one losing a job, or finding themselves in an unwinnable situation… and watching as they and their family take on the challenge.

It’s easy to conclude that “resilience” is not a choice — short of suicide, what else can they do besides keep on living? Look harder, and you will see there IS a choice. They have chosen how to react. Work actively to change the outcome? Accept it as a new fact of life and move on? Those are positive choices. It’s possible instead to try and ignore the issue, letting it fester until it makes things worse. Or they could have chosen to wallow in it, say “woe is me,” and be stuck obsessing about it. Those lead to vicious cycles and negative outcomes reinforcing each other, making the hole deeper and harder to climb out of.

So take the time to admire those close to you, where you have a front row seat at the arena. Watch them take on life and emerge, bloodied but unbowed. Celebrate their choice, their ability to bounce back in the face of disappointment. There’s joy in witnessing that resilience.

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