Response to a friend

“Why are some people broken by one tragedy, and others can not only withstand many tragedies, but also turn them into opportunities to serve others who suffer?”

This morning I read April’s latest blog entry, and was compelled to respond. April asked the question above. She brought up several questions I have asked myself before, and I used her blog as a chance to put into words the blobs of thought that had glommed around in my noggin for years now.

April’s mother died, and she has been gracious enough to share her grieving process on her Gaia blog, so the rest of us can learn and grow too. My comment on her blog is below:

I agree that we all have the potential to be resilient. I can’t answer your questions, but I do have my own thoughts. I think our responses in life are related to our genetics and to our personal history.

We are inherently self-absorbed. That is a good thing, because deep in our cores, we must be driven by survival if nothing else, and who better to look out for us than ourselves? It’s just that our lives no longer resemble competition among other wild creatures for food and warmth like it used to, so what we are designed to do simply isn’t what we need anymore. We are now in a modern environment in which different skills are called for. Our valuable inherent traits of being selfish have less healthy usefulness a couple million years after we perfected them. Now, what do we do with ourselves?

Like domesticated dogs evolved from wild, running, hunting beasts, but now kept inside someone’s apartment all day long… some of us just can’t live the life we have and stay healthy. Sometimes those dogs go batty and bark themselves silly for 8 hours straight, or sometimes they get depressed. Humans have lots of ways to direct the confused energy.

To actually deal with our natures in a healthy way takes SO much work, as you well know. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone has faith that the work will pay off, and are less motivated to start.

I think a person can be forced to learn a skill like resilience. Say, for example, growing up in a family where kids are not much of a priority. When you get older, and get in a tough spot, you recall that in the past you found a way to take care of yourself even though you were scared and didn’t know how to do it at first. If you rack up a series of successful resilience memories, you will probably incorporate that knowledge into your toolbox. If you just got beaten back down more often than not, you probably will try something else first, before you try resilience.

Well, geez. What the heck do I know? ha ha. In any case, I have the same questions as you, and that’s why I had so much to say about it. It is a gift your mother gave to you: your resilience. She may not have known she was gifting you, but it’s still one of the greatest things you ever got from anyone!

Thank you dear friend, for this chance to clarify a few of my own thoughts for myself using your time and space. I hope that you find yourself surrounded by love and support each time you look up.

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