The Most Important Quality Of All

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!

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5 thoughts on “The Most Important Quality Of All

  1. Harry… I loved this post… I read it twice 🙂

    Persistence is definitely the key. And the ability to switch off… and just stop thinking [and worrying]. [I have trouble with the not worrying part – grin] But it seems to me that the ones who manage to survive [and thrive] through the toughest times… are those who don’t worry so much. They cruise along and see the GOOD in everything. You talk to them…. and hear their story… and they are the ones who are thinking about YOU… and how THEY can help you [grin] It’s awe inspiring really. I have been blessed to know only a few over the years but the impact they had was profound.

    You’re right Harry. None of us knows what the future holds. And it could go either way. But if we can just get a handle on the worry…. chill out… and just let it be… things have a way of working themselves out. I think more than ever we have to have faith in something greater than ourselves… be it God or Fate or the Universe. Creative people are lucky in that way I guess. They already know that what they do doesn’t come from just them… and that greater powers are at play. We have to have the kind of faith… [not necessarily religious]… that allows us to sleep at night knowing that we’re going to be alright. Because we are. Let go and let God has become my mantra over the past couple of years. It’s worked so far. So good 🙂

    Great post Harry. Timely and inspiring.

    PS sorry about the length of this comment… when I’m on a roll everyone’s feeling it LOL

    • Thanks Jean – I’m not so good at the letting go and not worrying part myself. I guess one advantage of getting older is that at some point you realize that there’s just less of a time-window to worry about so you just get on with it. So don’t worry about the typo!! LOL

  2. I also read this a couple times since you posted it. Resilience is a concept I too think of often. Toughen up and brace yourselves. I am not religious in any way so I have no other source of strength except myself. So I need to be resilient to take care of myself, even if I’m not feeling it. People can and do endure a lot, like you say, and they get through it.

    Things have been bad for so long that it’s not easy to scare me anymore. I don’t expect help.

    Like my parents who lived through the depression, what does not kill me makes me stronger.

    • Thanks for the comment, Deb…..I think the key to resilience is staying open and flexible. I’ve known too many people who have been through tough times and it has made them brittle, and then easily broken. Or mean spirited, to the point they drive people away. Having a sense of humor, even of the gallows variety, goes a long way to keeping you in the game and actually enjoying it, come what may.

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