Resilience

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Sometimes we need to stop. Sometimes we need to distance ourselves from a path that is no longer ours. Sometimes we need to look across time and recognize habits for what they are: comfortable, soothing, but ultimately the past.

Then we are ready. Not necessarily to change then and there, but to allow ourselves to contemplate change as a possibility, not a disaster. The opening of the mind may have happened before, but I think we realize that the mind is not nearly enough for change. The heart has to be involved, otherwise we are stuck between the old and the new with no way to go back but also no way to go forward. Because our hearts aren’t in it.

For a species who recognizes we do not like change we are terribly good at inflicting change on ourselves. It becomes a criteria desirable for any employment. 🙂 Although I would argue that even the best of us at change are really the best of us at dealing with the fall-out of change. In other words, we still suck at change but we can roll with the punches better and, in some cases, learn to love the stress response. Adrenaline junkies, anybody?

Resilience is the word of the day. That quality that sits so uncomfortably between stubborness and aspiration, that moulting of the stress that allows us to grow. It’s the recoil of the decision-making, otherwise known as consequence. It’s the forward leap using the momentum of the push back.

I was pondering resilience because I am now better at recognizing it in myself and others. I had this feeling when I was young that time will help with something. That I am going to step into my power and wield it as I should. I am not sure I was thinking of any magic, although… well, there is a part of me that feels ancient. Permanent. But that is for another time.

I take myself for granted. In translation, I know I can count on myself: my body, my mind, my feelings, my principles. In part, this is because I left childhood behind me. I take life seriously and words even more so (I don’t have “boys” and “girls” in my circle of friends). I can face a situation and determine my response without generalizing.

I am resilient. There is no boasting in it, although you will find some pride, as usual. I would boast if I had worked at it and succeeded. Instead, I was, as usual, lucky. I was given enough hard stuff to gain resilience, but not enough to warp me out of all recognition. But I had so few of the risk factors that it seemed almost inevitable that I would gain resilience. No, I am not saying that people who have risk factors can’t gain resilience. It’s just that they have to work at it whereas I… I only became aware I am resilient because I paid attention. Because I had a mirror close by. This mirror, the little one, is only now learning about resilience.

I used to wonder if we can learn resilience. It seemed to my young eyes something that you either have or don’t. But in this mirror of mine I can see the learning taking place. Because I can offer comfort and touch. Because I am there to discuss possible responses to everyday upsets. Because I can explain complexity (pacifism and patriotism being yesterday’s discussion) thus allowing understanding to grow.

But mostly because I stop and pay attention and respond with love. Time alone will tell if this way is better than throwing the little one into the water with no swimming skills.

I have hope…

Hope

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Between possibility and reality several concepts shoulder and elbow each other, trying to maintain a continuum, it seems. I have written about expectation, but its sister, hope, knocked on the door as well. Is there a difference? Are they one and the same? Twins maybe? They are both in the waiting period, both of them concerned with a future and a belief… and yet to my eyes they are not of the same realm.

Looks like expectation is formed objectively (even when unrealistic) from our interactions with the others (family, society), while hope is subjective, linked more to our resilience and optimism rather than the choices we face.

And I think we can agree that our hopes and expectations can sometimes be miles apart. Like my younger self realized, when she was supposed to study for university entrance but a pair of blue eyes were somehow more compelling… 🙂

Hope is not always portrayed as positive. Just thinking about Pandora’s box (jar, really!) is quite depressing, notwithstanding her journey from Earth mother to deceiver. Does hope really help, or does it prolong the torment? Norse mythology goes even further and doesn’t even pretend to look at hope as good.

Yet without hope resilience is just a bad joke, the future is random and, let’s face it, the human’s reproduction imperative isn’t nearly on par with other species. But hope, aside from being considered one of the three great virtues, is also stubborn and active. For good or for bad, people have realized that the future is coming towards them like a freight train anyway, so you might as well come on board and check what’s at the next station. It is that realization, combined with a certain talent for manipulating reality, plus a huge degree of consideration for one’s comfort that make hope a fearsome motivator.

Because, let’s face it, it is not with real life details that hope is necessarily concerned. Sure, we can hope for good weather to dry out our clothes, and we can hope for a pay rise to deal with the credit cards, and we can hope to make a good impression on our first date.

But hope has bigger fish to catch, and this comes with a price to pay, in introspection and religion, meditation and principles. We will all die, as we know even without having to think carefully about it. But the death of the body doesn’t scare us nearly as much as it is portrayed (looking at embalming procedures over the centuries, I might have to eat my words!). Beyond reality, beyond knowledge, beyond even belief, hope is humanity’s way to stand up against the annihilation of the spirit.

This, our pride cannot concede.

Learn

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Mulch the garden. You have better things to do than weed every single hour you are in the garden.

Don’t plant more than 2 courgette/zucchini plants. You still have the boxes of grated marrows from last year, which you had planned to mix in casseroles.

Enjoy the ranunculus. For the southerly will topple the heavily petticoated blooms to the ground.

Replant before the flowers appear. You do want fruits, don’t you?

Be merciless. That small plant you have ignored? It will take you half a day to cut it back in a year’s time. Yes, that includes jasmine.

Plants are resilient. Especially fig, in the place where you don’t want it.

Cover the strawberries. There are more birds than humans in your garden.

Scatter clippings over your beautifully raked garden bed. Your neighbours’ cats see your garden as the toilet anyway, do you have to give them a litter box as well?

Crush snails. Dig them in.

Try to crush slugs when they’re small, later only sharp implements can help – yuk! Or hedgehogs.

Speaking of hedgehogs, don’t poke your ungloved hands in a pile of leaves.

Speaking of hedgehogs again, go around your car in the morning and have a good look down the driveway. Those creatures are worth their weight in gold. Or slugs 🙂

Be patient and resigned. You may never have the lilac and paeony you desire. But it’s worth a try.

Save the bumblebee queen. They are heavier and less delicate than honeybees. Your flowers don’t really care.

Ignore the roses. Once the delicate grafts have died down, the rootstock will outlast you. You may even get some rosehips.

Plant garlic. Nothing so satisfying as anticipating using it in 6 months’ time… except maybe actually using it and enjoying it – congratulations, you are now self-sufficient in garlic!

Consider visiting the open gardens during the festival. But only on good days. You will feel inadequate anyway.

Smell the hyacinths, daffodils, wait for the snowdrops, admire the cherry blossoms and stop to stare at magnolias. Rhododendrons will follow.

Encourage the pansies and the marigolds.

Go to sleep. 🙂