I’ve hesitated to get on the ‘need to comment on Trump’ bandwagon, because it feels like shameless media coattail-riding. But I think this point in history has a lot to teach us about who we are as people, and more importantly, how we are as caregivers.
Love him or hate him, Trump is divisive. His tactics and antics will put you on offense or defence and there’s nothing unifying about his rhetorical style. He built his brand on the backs of the little guy, while also employing the same. He talks about securing the safety of Americans by restraining the “other,” but forgets that America was built by millions of immigrants. If he is anything, he is a man of many contradictions.
As caregivers, we know polarizing experiences. There’s the joy of watching cancer go into remission, and the heartache of having it rear its ugly head, again. There are good days for those with memory loss, and those days of, “and who are you again?”
How is one supposed to survive the woof and warp of life’s endless contradictions?
In a word: RESILIENCE.
Some would say hope, but hope is for the future. Resilience is for the now. Resilience is the one and only armour we have against life’s injustices and we can assume there will be plenty of those. If you’re reading this, you probably know the same.
But let’s not confuse resignation with resilience. That would be like a warrior confusing surrender with a relentless will to fight on. Resilience is the desire to keep fighting even when there’s no adequate reason to do so. To live is to be resilient because the alternative is just to accept your mortality, crawl into a corner, and wait for the spectre of death to find you. Resilience is the fullest and most honest expression of our existential reality.
I’ve known many resilient people in my lifetime; too many to name. I think about what quality in their character makes them so. Why do they stand when others lie down? Is it egoism, cockiness or some false belief that the world of tragedy doesn’t belong to them? It’s exactly the opposite. It’s total and complete acceptance. The kind of acceptance that we think is reserved for saints and martyrs, but is as much the purview of people like you and me.
The befuddling paradox in cultivating resilience against life’s hardships is the realization that, despite every thought to the contrary, to be resilient requires one to shed their armour and let everything flow through you like a sieve. This is not the same as avoidance. It’s radical acceptance; giving yourself permission to have a full experience of everything life throws at you but letting very little stick. Resilience is like a Teflon surface; you’re cooking on high heat, and it’s a saucy mess, but the cleanup is easy-breezy.
I get that that’s easier said than done. We’re only human after all, but that’s precisely my point. We are all human, and we are all here despite the oscillating moments of splendor and horror. Like a kid playing with playdoh; you can bend and stretch us, but we bounce back to take on new forms. It’s only when we allow the intense heat to get to us that we get hard, crusty, and brittle, and Trumped by life’s most harrowing moments.