is a word that does not land well for me. By which I mean I don’t like how the word lives in the world. Or how I see it playing out in the slogans of self-help motivational speakers standing on stages with microphones clipped to their freshly ironed J. Crew shirts, screaming you are resilient! You are limitless in your power!
I don’t know…these you can do it talks always seem so thoughtless. Like, how do you really know what someone is going through? How can you possibly know the pain one is experiencing?
But that’s not the word’s fault. Actually, dictionary definitions use words like elasticity and ability to bounce back to explain its meaning. And, said on its own, resilience slides off the tongue, the way French does. Rather than being a brash punch to the gut by a drill sergeant, it feels more like Tai Chi, moving softly through the air.
That’s my resilience.
My resilience is soft. Gentle. It’s a combination of what Kristin Neff calls fierce compassion (that loving voice that gets you out of bed when you’re depressed and want to spend the next several months not getting out of bed and having pints of ice cream delivered to your front door) and that kind mother/friend voice, the non-judgmental voice that reminds you that you are strong and courageous and drop-dead gorgeous and intelligent and fun and the voice that says trust yourself—you know what you need.
It’s that last one that is often ignored when we think of resilience. Because it often looks very non-typically-resilient. Since when did calling in sick or asking for an extension on that college paper or saying no to that oblivious needy friend ever look like resilience? Well, it does to me…
As it did to the artist who drew this…this perfect pearl of wisdom placed on a flag pole which I pass every day but saw two days ago on my morning walk. And I needed to see it on that day. Because I’d had a rough start to the day. And because all too often when I have a rough start to the day, the immediate response is mean self-talk, something like, oh come on…deal!
But this perfect message reminded me that resilience is love. It reminded me that loving looks different from one day to the next. Sometimes it’s climbing mountains and sometimes it’s curled up in bed. It reminded me that it’s all good. It’s all ok. And I’m good. I’m ok. It reminded me to be here, right now in this moment—which sometimes confuses, sometimes excites, sometimes pains and always inspires.