Of vulnerability, and resilience

Often, sights in nature present delightful ways of understanding the world around us, like this avenue on the Lourensford Estate in Somerset West. Here, the ying and the yang co-exist most exquisitely.

It’s the ultimate irony. And complexity. Almost a contradiction:

To heal, one needs to declare: “No surrender!” And:

To heal, one needs to declare:

“I surrender …” Why?

Because: To heal, one needs both extreme resilience. And complete vulnerability. Simultaneously.

The photo above, studied again, may offer this sight of both.

Like most things in life, binaries are not helpful. Very few matters are “all good vs all bad”, “only left, never right” – or vice versa.

Resilience is not toughness only.

The journey to survival starts with full acceptance of the pain, surely? On the far side of the world, this past week, a man ran for public office.

His deputy, a woman, described him as “a healer, a uniter, a tested and steady hand, a person whose own experience of loss gives him a sense of purpose that will help us, as a nation, reclaim our own sense of purpose. And a man with a big heart who loves with abandon.”

At any given time, the global public domain is dominated by particular discourses. And right now, “healing” is one of them.

From east to west, from Gugulethu to Georgia, the year 2020 hit most parts of the world like a wicked storm.

From the coronavirus itself, and/or decisions taken to fight it, and/or unintended consequences, and/or an exasperating tangle of all three.

There’s a word for this kind of conflagration, not repeatable in polite company. It begins with “S” and ends with “show”.

Whatever one’s opinion – and there are many – consensus must be: 2021 will need to be a year of healing.

And for that, emotional intelligence will probably surface as our most crucial currency. To defy polarising binaries, and navigate complexity.

An inspirational educator asked me this morning: “What is resilience”?

I shot back: “Resilience is peace and calm, in the eye of the storm.

“As the wind and rain, thunder and lightning, rage around us: We know we remain vulnerable. We don’t hide from it.

“But even in that dark, our eyes burn bright. For we never stop believing: That in the East, the sunrise is coming.

“We choose not fear. We live with delight.”

High above Stellenbosch, once lived a doctor. Apparently I was his first patient. I’ll tell you about him one day.

He once told me: “You need to learn to dance with the fire.”

That’s my story. But there’s no one-size-fits-all. Each navigation is deeply personal.

I thought the former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, said it clearly, in the preface to her book, Becoming.

She wrote: “If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll quickly be inaccurately defined by others.

“It was possible that I was more in charge of my happiness than I was allowing myself to be.

“Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It’s something to own.”

Bob Marley sang it too: “We will sing, we will sing, our own song …”

There’s no escape:

We each have to navigate vulnerability and resilience, our minor and major chords, ourselves.

And on our individual platforms of peace and purpose, will navigate vulnerability and resilience, together.

Either that, or the photo above is just a pretty snap of some trees.

Both interpretations, or any others, are just fine by me…