Why do many people and organizations crumble in the face of difficulty, while others use adversity to bounce back even stronger? The experience of bounce can range from an uncanny feeling of levitation to a supreme tranquil relaxation. It is precisely when all seems lost that the opportunity exists to rewire your brain. It's often during life's most difficult times that we discover our most critical hidden strengths and that we forge our most important capabilities.
We all go through desperately awful times. When we can transform those experiences we are stronger. You may have heard of "crisistunites" or "Another bleeping learning experience." These experiences can make us angry and afraid. We all have these moments. The question is what we choose to do with them.
Are you in such a time right now? You may be working too many hours for too little pay, feeling drained and exhausted or ineffectual and frustrated. You might be on the soul journey that the Goddess Persephone took, into the underworld. It may feel like the journey that Jesus took, losing everything and resting in the tomb. Or maybe your dearest wish is to retreat into the womb or your safe and cozy clay pot of a regulated life. You may be speaking truth to power, hoping to make the world a better place, and feeling shut down and helpless. You may be desperately clinging to your life vest as you hurtle over the waterfall, through the underground river, heading toward rebirth in the vast ocean. These are the feelings that EVERY hero in EVERY story has: hanging over a precipice or facing an un-climb-able mountain or seven impossible tasks.
|Sunrise at Lake Tahoe |
Photo by Clint Sharp
Or maybe you feel, like I felt during one memorable season of my life, 6 months which I wish i could forget: Like I was standing lonely on a hill and life was sneaking up on me hitting me with bad news, wacking me with a stick, again and again and again.
Here’s the good news, the journey continues on: you don’t have to stay in the tomb, you don’t have to desperately cling to that life-vest forever. The season of despair passes. You can emerge, like a chick, bruised, and battered from the shell. And when that change comes, we get a gift. We deserve that gift. The gift of transformation. We owe it to ourselves, and our loved ones, to wrest all the transformation we can out of the jaws of those difficult times. No matter how messy it is, we deserve the richness and deepening of transformation. We can rise like the sun.
Five Voices-Victor Hugo: "Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings."
- Attributed to Harriet Tubman : “if you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches, keep going. If you hear them shouting, keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."
- bell hooks : “Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen
|Mountain Bluebird Flickr Creative Commons|
- Howard Thurman : "I have never since lost sight of the far-flung mystery and redemption of the sacrament of pain. -- It is small wonder that so much is made in the Christian religion of the necessity of rebirths. There need not be only one single rebirth, but again and again a man may be reborn until at last there is nothing that remains between him and God."
Alice Walker:...”after the close of a magical marriage to an extraordinary man that ended in a less-than-magical divorce. I found myself unmoored, unmated, ungrounded in a way that challenged everything I'd ever thought about human relationships. Situated squarely in that terrifying paradise called freedom, precipitously out on so many emotional limbs, it was as if I had been born; and in fact I was being reborn as the woman I was to become."
Martin Luther KingWords from Coretta Scott King from the book "Standing in the Need of Prayer"
|Martin Luther King, Photo credit Beacon Press|
“Prayer was a wellspring of strength and inspiration during the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout the movement, we prayed for greater human understanding. We prayed for the safety of our compatriots in the freedom struggle. We prayed for victory in our nonviolent protests, for brotherhood and sisterhood among people of all races, for reconciliation and the fulfillment of the Beloved Community.
For my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. prayer was a daily source of courage and strength that gave him the ability to carry on in even the darkest hours of our struggle.
I remember one very difficult day when he came home bone-weary from the stress that came with his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In the middle of that night, he was awakened by a threatening and abusive phone call, one of many we received throughout the movement. On this particular occasion, however, Martin had had enough.
After the call, he got up from bed and made himself some coffee. He began to worry about his family, and all of the burdens that came with our movement weighed heavily on his soul. With his head in his hands, Martin bowed over the kitchen table and prayed aloud to God:
"Lord, I am taking a stand for what I believe is right. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can't face it alone."
Later he told me, "At that moment, I experienced the presence of the Divine as I had never experienced Him before. It seemed as though I could hear a voice saying: 'Stand up for righteousness; stand up for truth; and God will be at our side forever.'" When Martin stood up from the table, he was imbued with a new sense of confidence, and he was ready to face anything.”
By Abbie Bettini, words from Victor Hugo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEANteNY0h0
By Libana, words adapted from Victor Hugo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSvUafvUBvQ
|courtesy wikimedia commons|