Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tenacity, Improvisation, and Rage

This last weekend my wife and I spent some time at a conference for families with disabled children. It was a great experience networking and learning how to better serve our child (he has Cerebral Palsy, among other things).

We are active on a lot of email groups that give us support and help us to share stories, support, and resources with other parents as well.

When I came back, I was checking some of the blogs that I haunt on a regular basis, and I found a posting by a friend that we had spent some time with at the conference. Her posting revealed that she had grown a lot through her difficulties. She wrote a list of things she had learned about herself at the conference, things she had come to realize. I’d like to share a few points from her list. To see her whole list, go to her blog.

“Have you ever had one of those days, where you learn more about yourself, than you really want to? When you realize that you have been looking yourself in the mirror, convincing yourself, that you are really something more, than you are?”

“The things I learned about myself this weekend are:
  • “I am not the only person with a handicapped, or disabled child! (Who would have thought)
  • Other families manage, (with having a handicapped child, and sometimes more than one).
  • Life has not come to an end, it’s just not the ‘ending’ I would have envisioned.
  • I did not cause my child's handicap.
  • God Loves me
  • It is okay to cry.
  • Life is a long list of miracles. I just need to write them down.
  • And last, but not least: I am going to survive”

How many of us have felt, in the whirlwind that is our lives, that it would be so much easier just to sit down and give up. To not carry on the fight and let the winds blow us away into oblivion. There are times when life’s pressures keep us in a confusing spin, and we feel like we can’t break free or move ahead.

For those times, I present two solutions: Tenacity and improvisation

Tenacity is the power inside that keeps us holding on when we want to give up. It’s what got George Washington through Valley Forge. It’s what keeps us holding on to our teenage kids even when they drive us crazy! It’s what gives us the determination to make a business work when there’s little time and even less money. It’s what my friend said in her last item: “I am going to survive”

But the stick-to-it-ness of tenacity isn’t enough. I can stand, steadfast in the face of chaos and confusion, strong in the storm, and, while that might be inspiring, it’s also not getting anything accomplished. I’m still not moving.

But one of the difficulties of moving in the storm is that we’ve often tried lots of ways to move and found that they haven’t been effective in moving us forward. So, we end up standing there, barely able to withstand the force of the winds.

That’s where we need improvisation. We need to think, “What I’ve been doing hasn’t been working, so I need to rethink this. I need to re-assess where I am, I need to try new ideas.” That’s when we need to explore.

Some would say that while your world is spinning around you is not the time to try new things. But I say, that’s the perfect time. What else can you do? Holding your ground isn’t getting you where you want to go, right?

So, my friend is shifting her stance, she’s realizing that she has more control than she thought. She can do more than cope. She can find new ways to move forward. And then find that in struggle is where we find the truest victory.

Dylan Thomas said:

“Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

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