What a F#$%*er of a year for so many. The dark side of society took aim and fired. I could list all the horrors of the past year one by one, but that would only serve to re-traumatise those still feeling the most pain and the greatest of losses.
Instead what I want this post to be about is the side we rarely discuss in the media, because lets face it bad news sells and good news doesn’t. I want to pay tribute to human beings ability to keep going, to bounce back against all odds. Resilience the psychologists might call it, I like to think of it as unbreakable strength.
I don’t want to downplay the horrors of the past year or the bypass the pain people are still dealing with. But I do want to shine a little light on human resilience. Despite what you see in the media, resilience and human good exists. I want this post to start you thinking about yourself; if bad shit happens what’s the flip side?
How can I help myself and others in the future? How can I assist humanity with being resilient? How can I bounce back once more?
So what is this thing we speak off?
Resilience according to dictionary dot com is a noun.
- The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
- Ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
3.Latin resili (ēns), present participle of resilīre to spring back, rebound.
I disagree slightly with the first definition, I think we do return but in a different form a slightly wiser and more vulnerable form. A friend once said to me, going through a really bad time is like a renovation. It’s frustrating, messy, emotional, draining and hard. What you get at the end however is a new room. A room that was once something else. The room isn’t the same, but looks similar; it’s a new space, fresh and ready to start new memories.
Resilience I think, is a learnt skill it isn’t something innate, we are not born resilient. If we are lucky, we learn it, and even luckier we are taught it. If we are really lucky we get to teach it to others.
How did we get it?
Not easily is the short answer. Accepting the pain (which again isn’t easy) and by practicing it (not without cost either).
Sometimes we even have to fake it until we make it. Another influential person in my life said to me “resilience happens when you push a wheelbarrow of shit up a hill on a rainy day. You will eventually get there, but the journey can have you covered in crap”.
When I was going through a bad time in my life my sister once sent me a card that read fall down 7 get up 8. I hated that card with a passion; I think I may have thrown darts at it. For almost 12 months I couldn’t look at it. However I just knew that’s what I had to do, I had to keep going. Today I still have that card tucked away as a reminder of my resilience.
Please don’t get me wrong I am not Master of Resilience. I still have a long way to go, but I’m trying to practice it each day in small doses. It’s important for me to practice it so that my kids will see it and learn it for themselves?
The best of humanity in 2014
So on reflecting on the year just gone I have decided to pull out a few of the good things that happened this year, some out of tragedy, others because humans are just trying to do better. Here are my top favourites of 2014.
- The #Illridewithyou This gem came out of a dark day in Australia, the campaign is a response to not accepting racism in our country after the Sydney seize.
- Russell Brand and his collective mob saving their homes from high rise expensive apartments and rich bastards with loads of power.
- Rosie Batty – The mother who lost her son through her ex partner’s violence has been rightly nominated for Woman of the year. She has worked hard to raise awareness of family violence and our outdated laws. She has done more to singly handily raise awareness of family violence in this Country then any Government campaign or agency.
- Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize. What more can I say, she personifies resilience.
- Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Hospital made history after a double amputee control was able to control his prosthetic arms with his thoughts. This never made the front page of papers but I think it’s life changing.
- Turia Pitt for her inspiration to others and for single handily defining resilience, she had bounced from the unthinkable. http://turiapitt.com/
- Bret Barnum for hugging the young black boy during a Ferguson Protest rally. The Sergeant noticed the young man with tears in his eyes and asked, “Do I get one of those?”
So as you celebrate and commiserate the year just gone, please remember this side of us humans. We have a remarkable ability to keep going and to give back even when our pain is greatest. Collective resilience has more power, more knowledge and more determination then any Government, dictator, terrorist or violent criminal.
Some say I’m naïve and others say I’m just plain stupid, but I still believe despite all the bad things that happen that people are born innately good. It’s what happens along the way that makes the difference.
In 2014 the world lost some amazing individuals. So I would like to dedicate this blog post to just a handful of the more well-known people who left this world in 2014. May their families find the strength to keep going?
Maya Angelou, Lauren Becall, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Peaches Geldof, Simone Battle, Robin Williams, Shirley Temple, Phillip Hughes, Ann B. Davis (I will always know her as Alice), Stella Young, Charlotte Dawson, Sir Gough Whitlam, Chrissy Amphlett, Whitney Houston, Tommy Ramone, Donna Summer, Corey Monteith and most recently Tasmanian photographer Tim Jones.
Happy New Year – fall down 7 get up 8 humanity.