After pounding rains hit the area a few years
back, I casually commented to a neighbor –It could be worse. Not for me, she replied.
From that single statement, I knew. We would
never be friends.
Her home had been severely flooded, much of
her basement’s furnishings ruined. But seriously, it couldn’t have been worse?
Of course it could.
It could have been sooo much worse.
Regardless of how little may be in my glass,
I always regard it as half-full. And generally, so do the people with whom I
surround myself. Even when my friend plays out every imaginable scenario to
reach worst-case, she comes to the conclusion that it’s something with which
she could live. It may be horrible –but it could be worse.
I sometimes deal with students whose vision
of the world is so narrowly focused that they cannot see a bigger picture. When
they find themselves lost in a battle on campus or at home, rather than fortify
their efforts to strengthen a position, they crumble.
To a large degree, I believe that resilience
is something with which we’re born. When the parenting experts were not long
ago penning books teaching resilience, I passed on a purchase. My friend noted
the resilience in my own daughter and asked how’d
you do that? I quickly admitted –It wasn’t me. Alex came that way.
And she had.
Those first few hours of her life were some
pretty powerful foreshadowing of things to come. Regardless of the challenge –she
would meet them—and succeed or fail—move on to the next one.
I can’t teach my students resilience, but I
can sometimes talk them off the ledge. With my just-outside-their-lives
perspective, I can usually prove that the reality with which they’re dealing
isn’t quite as bad as they think it is. Or –sometimes it is. And then, I can
only offer assurances that they will come out the other side of it. It’s
interesting that the ones who have been so fully tested by calamity seem also
to be those with the most positive life view.
My friend is again dealing with one of those
real calamities of life. In a ten minute conversation she expressed a range of
emotions usually associated with the stages of grief: denial, anger,
acceptance. And one most wholly associated with her: resilience.
She will come out the other side of this. She
knows. Not because she’s been handed some guarantee, but because she sees the
glass as always half-full and she still believes -it could always be worse.