I recently attended a webinar on resilience. At the time of writing it was 12 minutes ago.
The host and facilitator, James, told a story of his Grandmother which if it isn’t already, should be turned into a book. It could easily be the female version of the story of Louis Zamparini from the book and movie, Unbroken. There were elements of real personal tragedy and blossomings of bloody minded triumph, and in her story were all the ingredients of living meaningfully with resilience as a lifelong companion by her side.
It was clear that the apple hadn’t fallen far from the family tree as the resilience gene has clearly found fertile ground in her Grandson James as he told his story and helped us grasp the meaning and importance of this trusty torch and wise walking stick which helps us walk through trying times.
We know all too well of the general mess the world is in right now, and perhaps more than ever we need to build the resilience from within to cope with the overbearing negativity around us. Perhaps though that is just the story I’m telling myself, and I can’t change the clown show which is currently happening on the World’s biggest stage. The Presidential debate between Trump the terrible and Biden the boring is everything except presidential.
And yet, if we are aware, we see colourful flowers pushing themselves through layers of dried and hardened mud as they show themselves to an appreciative world.
In amongst the dry drivel and hardened headlines of a CNN news report, I saw such a flower in the gaudiest of pants and even ruder coloured shoes dancing in a parking lot.
The story unfolds that Chuck Yielding from Fort Worth Texas USA, arrives every Tuesday to dance for his son Aiden who is suffering from cancer in a hospital ward. Because of Covid restrictions, he is unable to visit his own son who is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia in Cook’s children’s hospital. Luckily a glass window into young Aiden’s room doesn’t care for the restrictions and he is able to watch his Father perform some truly unique and original dance moves while passers-by stare in disbelief.
I am sure they would gaze in admiration if they knew the story behind his seemingly ridiculous routine.
Aiden says it cheers him up sometimes, and that he doesn’t feel alone, and in the dancing, his Father finds meaning as he deals with his own grief in the story.
And right there are three great practices to build resilience.
Find the humour even in the darkest times.
Look for meaning in the everyday and every week. Especially on Tuesdays in a parking lot.
Know that you are not alone. Even when isolated from your own nearest and dearest.
I wonder who I would risk looking like a fool for?
And when I do, it will be the people who laugh with me and not at me who will be my tribe.
For the journey of resilience is not one easily undertaken alone.
The webinar ended with the extraordinary voice of Maya Angelou who asked:
“Can you be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud?”
There were more colours in Dad Chuck’s pants than any rainbow I’ve seen, and the smile on his son’s face through a seventh story window must have removed any clouds in that moment.
He is with his son every original step of the way.