As we navigate these trying times, there isn’t any shortage of prognosticators who are willing to give us (or sell us) their view of what the future holds.
Some preach complete collapse, while others dream of a return to a golden age that really never existed. Fear of the future is used as an effective weapon, as is nostalgia.
As I try to figure out what is going to help myself and others find some kind of road ahead, there is only one trait that I think trumps all the others.
That is resilience.
It’s not intelligence – the people that got us into this mess had the best grades at the best schools, and they are as helpless as the rest to find a way out.
It’s not hard work – you can work hard at the wrong things. Most of the bad things in the world were done by people who worked pretty hard at them.
It’s not persistence. Again, you can persist in the face of evidence that you should be doing something different. Even the Bible tells us about the fool persisting in his folly. This Fool sure has.
Only resilience – the ability to “take it” and not give in – matters.
Resilience can’t really be taught, academically. You have to see it demonstrated. And fortunately the more disadvantaged you are, the more opportunities you have to see it in action. Both in the people you’ll meet and your own experiences.
You won’t find credentialed professors or certified therapists who can teach you about resilience. Where you will find it is in the bad parts of town. Or in veterans, or the disabled or chronically ill. Or in refugees, or those who have been or are persecuted. Among the foreclosed and the pushed aside.
Because if you listen to their stories you’ll realize that people can endure a LOT. And that things do get better, somehow, if you just hang in there.
And as long as you have a story to hang on to, of someone who went through worse times than you are going through, or a time in your own life that was worse, then you can make it too.
And when you have this trait, fear vanishes. Because you really can’t be stopped. It won’t make the bad parts any easier to go through, but you’ll know you’ll get through it, come what may.
I don’t know what the future holds for me. Things may go great, and I’ll be able to bask in the warm glow of my sunset years. Or I may end up living in a cardboard box.
We all face this uncertainty. But as long as you have breath left and open your eyes in the morning you’ve got a chance. Giving up is easy, it’s the keeping on going that’s hard.
But keeping on going is the best revenge, even if it’s just to see what the hell can happen next!