Note: this post was inspired by the recent conversation I had with Soo Na Pak about grief and resilience.
Now the music’s gone, but they carry on
For their spirit’s been bruised, never broken.
They will not forget, but their hearts are set
on tomorrow and peace once again.
Phil Coulter, The Town I Loved So Well1
When I was a boy and got hurt – falling off my bike, getting hit by a baseball in the ribs, a bruised ego – my father would say to me “you’ll have a lot more of those in your life, kid.” It really wasn’t the response I was looking for at the time, which I suppose was for sympathy. My guess is that he thought a bit of cold, hard reality would do me some good. I don’t know which parental approach is the correct one, but he was undoubtedly right that adversity and getting hurt never really stop, no matter how old we are. But after being knocked down, we do our best to get up again.
Unfortunately, we sometimes face challenging circumstances which greatly exceed falling off a bicycle – the death or loss of our loved ones, poverty, discrimination, debilitating disease or psychological trauma, famine, slavery, war, etc. Sometimes these things are chronic or even fatal, and should we be lucky enough to make it through to the other side of the tunnel, the pain can feel almost unbearable in the interim.