Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

Resilience in Action

Resilience: 1) the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; 2) the ability to spring back, elasticity.*

This past summer, I inundated myself with free webinars, trying to be productive, fulfilling a sense of purpose. In one such webinar, I watched a video by a gentleman who practices building his resilience every day through a morning ritual. My first reaction was “wow what a great idea” and the second was that I actually started my own morning resilience routine. As I am not one to leap out of bed at sunrise, inserting this new activity into my day while still lying in bed, was a perfect fit .

I don’t need to discuss why the need for resilience is so important now. The tumultuous events over this past year would cause anyone to either hibernate until it is safe to come out, or find a way to confront and manage these troubling and for me at least, despairing times. Muriel Rukeyser exhorts us to put in the time to prepare ourselves for these moments, calling on our “every resource” to combat dark periods when the ground seems to open beneath our feet, to bring our fullness to the task at hand. Albert Camus refers to this strength of character as essential to stand up to “all the winds that blow in from the sea”.

In her book, Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit talks about the “thin line between agency and victimhood” and that these times can be both “nightmarish” and “transformative”. So how do we get through the nightmares to the other side, to emerge transformed?

Confronting what is before us vs pretending or hoping it will go away if we keep our heads down long enough, requires action and the knowledge that maybe everything will not be ok, but that we can a least have a say in the outcomes. An “alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists”. Using our heads for reason and our hearts for passion, we need to make room for a variety of possibilities. And to especially realize the “long gestational period of consequences” that have brought us to where we are and to accept the incremental, sometimes seemingly imperceptible movements towards a new horizon.

Our channel surfing, 24/7 texting, constant streaming and the ability to dismiss “friends” with a click, ingrain in us the expectation of immediate results so that we are taken by surprise at the sudden eruptions, seemingly coming out of nowhere. The failure of our awareness of the “long-dormant seeds” we neglected to see growing and only notice when the formidable trunk breaks through the floor of our lives. Solnit writes” we tend to think political engagement is something for emergencies rather than….a part… of everyday life”. A lesson painfully learned recently. Eric Fromm captures our surface gliding approach to life with the term “consensual validation”. It is a wonderfully worded description of where I believe we have landed today:

“It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings prove the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth…The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane”.

We must remember that our wins are fleeting, that what brought us those victory needs to be protected, that we need to remain watchful and act when we see what we fought for, slipping away. Instead of becoming fixated on the current political situation, we should be building up our resilience to live awareness and commitment through the ongoing everydays that make up our lives. For Solnit, hope is “only a beginning; not a substitute for action, only a basis for it”.

In my quest to develop resilience for the battles we will always be fighting and for the victories we will always need to protect, this quote by Solnit will be a motivaton to keep my attention alive and well focused: “ The past is set in daylight, and it can become a torch we can carry into the night that is the future”.

And for those really dark, despairing times, a balm for my soul:

“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer”. Camus

May we all find our resilience and our summer.

*Google dictionary

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