We are born with it—a core ability to recover from hardship or illness, to bounce back from misfortune and loss. Resilience is in our DNA; it’s a survival skill. We wouldn’t have made it as a species without it. Yet, at times of turmoil and challenge, as we are now experiencing on Earth, that inner wellspring can almost seem nonexistent, at the very least in need of replenishing. A global pandemic has exhausted us, and political conflict undermines our hopes for the future on a daily basis. How do we cope?
A year or so after COVID first appeared, I went through a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment (latest breast scans all clear!). I am an extremely grateful survivor, but those two events, taken together, have had quite an effect on my life. In each one, thoughts of illness and death arose, as well as feelings about aging and the number of years I have left in my life. We all consider these things from time to time, but perhaps never more intensely than when faced with a diagnosis and/or a worldwide health crisis.
Throughout my cancer treatment, I felt an abiding inner peace because my resilience wellspring was buoyed up continuously by my life partner Anne, friends, family, and spiritual connection. I accepted and trusted my soul’s journey. Still, there are always multiple aspects to life’s most profound experiences. Now a year after the end of treatment, I am even more aware of both the sweetness and impermanence of life. A variety of feelings come and go. I have tears in my eyes as I listen to a touching song that holds many memories, and I smile when I see spring crocuses in bloom or hear a robin calling. Life’s fleeting and poignant beauty touches my heart deeper with each passing year.
Recently a dear family member passed away. She was 92. My father died years ago at 94. They each had a long resilient life, though with some health challenges at the end. Whether or not we face illness in our lives, eventually, inevitably, we transition. I am not near 90, yet I am closer than I was at 20 (which is a bit shocking). When we are young, life seems endless. As we age and look back at our lives, it all seems to be passing quickly. In the last week of her life, Dodie said that everything was “happening so fast” now. We have an entire life ahead of us—and then we don’t.
Our experience of time is relative, sometimes passing slowly, sometimes quickly. Only in the moment does it cease movement. Now is timeless, and this is where resilience lives. When we live our lives centered in the present moment, human time disappears into beingness, which is eternal. Perhaps this is the way we cope—by bringing ourselves back to the present repeatedly. By remembering that the human spirit never really dies and is always evolving. It is part of a greater everlasting Spirit that fills the universe with light, beauty, and joy.
Even when the world and life seem engulfed in unrest, pain, and uncertainty, this beautiful light gives our lives resilience. Deep within us, our soul’s peace carries each of us through life’s many changes—and beyond. In the expanse of each moment, I silently remind myself of this truth.
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