Tag Archives: resilience

Meeting the moment 2021 #29

The power was off for nearly sixteen hours and the winds were raging, I was having a Dorothy moment, thinking I might end up in Kansas. It was one of those moments with the windows rattling, the banging of loose tin, something unknown and metallic hitting against a nearby fence and in the distance a crash of a branch. By mid afternoon men in hi-vis and big white trucks were wandering up and down the street and around the corner matching their knowledge to the ferocity of what had been the night before and its impact on 67 households (according to the app). These are the moments I remember to be grateful for power, hot water, wi-fi, heating … I take so much of this for granted in my first world comfort zone.  

A storm like this, only a few years back, had me driving my dying husband around in the car with his ventilator plugged in so it could recharge via the car’s auxiliary power outlet. We went up and down roads and through vineyards and over hills, until the power at home went back on.  We had dispensation to be a priority customer given his reliance on oxygen, but we didn’t get the supply immediately and also up until then didn’t have tanks on hand to compensate.  (We got them after that and never had to use them.)  I am grateful I don’t have to live through all those moments again.  Stormy conditions are not always equitable. Some of us have more resources than others, more jackets to put on, better quality umbrellas, back up powerpacks. I have come to consider the non-physical versions of these, resilience tools.

The breath is what distinguishes something as being alive or dead. The raging storm lets me know well I am alive, all creation is alive.

In the storm, the air finds its voice mixed with the staccato of hail, the rumble of thunder, the crescendo of waves of rain crashing like waves on the beach. Then the quiet arrives, not quite silence, as birds find ways to harmonise with the new post-storm atomic score. You take time to clean up debris, replace and restore what is out of place or is not in any shape to be able to be retained. The path of the storm has left a clearing where, there is now, more light.

I have been haunted by the past and some very tricky personalities presenting themselves this week. I felt darkness descending and shadows forming, not of my making and not at my invitation. In true Celt fashion, a triptych of deeptime sensory discomfort. The storm blew in to deliver lessons. The electricity lines being down seemed to draw a line, cut off supply and blew away the bad spirits. The elements have guided me and delivered the high, fierce and dangerous winds required to shift the predatory shadows circling me. 

The invitation to live in this space between and with the elements, is something I am learning more about, thanks to continuing to delve into my Celtic roots especially through the works of John O’Donohue and guidance of Norin Ni Riain. I am learning to take instruction from the elements, to live more in tune to the seasons, the turn of the sun, the tidal power of the moon and the dance steps of planets and stars. It is not lost on me, this relationship between wind and breath, and the feminine word for spirit (ruah) in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It feels quite pointed and poignant, as I meet the moment of this week, reflecting on the symphonic elemental natural world as my spiritual guide.

Photo by Anandu Vinod on Unsplash

Dancing with Speeches #33 JK Rowling

In 2008 JK Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter books, gave a commencement speech at Harvard.  She pointed to failure and imagination as the key lessons to pass on to the new graduates, in the assumed knowledge that everyone forgets the commencement speech. her words have continued to inspire and be remembered. 

Being a wall flower, sitting to the side and watching everyone else on the dance floor, wondering if you are ever going to get an invitation to get up to dance, waiting, waiting and then finding your way to the edge of the room, hoping no-one is noticing you embarrassed and alone. The opportunity to dig deeper into yourself to find another way to define the socially awkward moment, the improvisation required to adjust your dress, tie your shoe lace, collect a drink, remove yourself to the wash room to take yet another comfort stop which is needed for camouflage – all ways to go deeper into the experience of rejection and to the well of your resilience knowing more drops have been added and you are still not drowning.

We don’t easily forget those moments of whole-world humiliation – where the whole of our known world cannot see us, feel us or touch us – as if we have a cloak of invisibility thrown upon us – not one we would choose. From this place we begin lift, to reach into our strength and find our imagination there waiting for us. Imagination casts spells and lights up all the corners of the brain more dazzling than any mirror ball we become bespeckled and dots of thoughts start to dance around in our heads – more often than not turning mole hills into mountains when fear takes hold – but what happens when the gather into constellations and take us to grand halls, wizardry and magic start to happen. We literally have off the wall ideas, only possible from being still and sitting on the sidelines, unpicked.

Hardships and humiliations, experiencing failure, as opposed to having a fear of failure is real and getting a good taste of it is not the romanticism of poverty, it is knowing what the dark is finding yourself at the bottom as with all bottoms there is no where else to go. It is a solid place, a place where you are connected to the earth, it is a platform from where you can build, as you can fall no further. It is where you can only turn inwards and in the deep, in the dark and at the bottom find yourself and what you have left of yourself, your essence, your imagination and your abilities. This is when you reach out, to the world, to find help and courtesies random acts of kindness where your heart no longer hard starts to melt with the simple joys of sunshine, stars and smiles. You begin to build the bank of resilience and of love where the imagination fuels the dark and dank places and gives respite to whatever fear, horror or loss you are facing. A place where you can’t be touched and where your imagination helps you fly away and do cartwheels in the air.

Plutarch said : What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.  This is the gift of the wallflower experience to achieve inwardly, to look and find within yourself what your hopes and dreams are, the things that keep you awake at night, or energise you to get out of bed in the morning. These aspirations for yourself, your family, your community and our world first find a footing in your imagination. Freedom for those in detention centres in far off islands, a future planet that has conquered climate change or adapted with amazing technologies, equal pay for women and education for all girls – these first begin in the imagination; in the dungeon of rock bottom when there seems no where else to go but up the energy rises first in you and then you join with others and magic does happen – slaves become free, women get elected as Prime Ministers and Presidents, polar caps being renewable energy sites, children are no longer abused. What began as a wallflower moment may well turn into a blooming field of promise and then harvest – go to the dark, quiet place of humiliation and use that fertile place to grow your imagination and then get onto the dance floor and change the world.