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The Beauty That Remains


Here I sit, Monday evening. Tomorrow is the last day of February so this is my last evening to accomplish my goal of one blog a month, each month based upon a card from the 12 we collected at our Halloween gathering last October. I could tell myself that this is a fail...I certainly won’t have time to write, and ponder, and write some more, and correct my inaccurate words or thoughts. This blog - probably just a mini blog - will not be a well-crafted piece. But I could also tell myself that I am a rockstar. February is a short month. And I had several extra, time intensive things that I added to my already full schedule. That I will get one out at all is a testament to my determination to really focus this year. Which story shall I tell myself?

And that brings me to the quote that this month’s blog is inspired by:

I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. - Anne Frank

Now, clearly, whether I get this blog out or not pales in comparison to the situation Anne Frank was speaking about. I get that. But, I have often observed that there are at least two stories that you can tell about almost any situation. And more profoundly, two different natures that you can focus on. The bad or the good of a situation. The part of the situation that tears you down, or the part that lifts you up. The part that sucks you into darkness, or the part that delights your heart. Which one do you choose to think about? Talk about? Express? What story do you choose to tell?

And going a level deeper, there are also two ways to look at or feel about the “bad” part of the story. My good friend Karen always says that she is given everything she needs in a day, if only she can find the right way to look at what she’s been given. That which irritates us can also grow patience and ingenuity. That which lays us low can grow our compassion and our determination. That which proves to be out of our reach can lead us to the things we were meant to do instead, and the people we were meant to truly love and be loved by.

Not to say that it isn’t hard. I’ve got my regrets and my tragedies, which sometime float gently to the surface and sometimes sucker punch me in the gut. And I have a book of my miseries that I can thumb through at any given moment, chastising myself properly while wincing again with the humiliation of my bad decisions, awkward moments and miscalculations. I’m not certain I’ll ever reach a point in my spiritual maturation where I am completely free of that pain. And that’s okay. And I’m certain that I’m not done with my lot of misery. New and fresh pain and regret and bad decisions are in the mail for me. And that’s okay too. Just so long as I can also manage to come back around again to being able to see the beauty that still remains.

How do we nurture resiliency?

That speaks to resiliency. Which is one of my favorite things to think about. How do we nurture resiliency? For every Anne Frank there is a child who’s life ended with their heart filled with hate. For every Eva Mozes Kor, there is a person who cannot forgive and becomes consumed by their suffering. When placed in the same circumstance, what makes one human thrive and one collapse into themselves?

And though, clearly, these women were heroes, great hearts tested by extraordinary circumstance, all of this applies to us average Janes and Joes as well. The world is plenty hard enough and if we want to be the heroes in our own stories we must nurture our resiliency. We must train our eyes towards the light, the good, the beauty that remains. It is hard to say how much of that ability is nature vs. nurture, but resiliency, whether inborn or taught, can certainly be facilitated.

What are you doing to bolster yours? Do you get good sleep? How’s your diet? Do you have good and supportive friends? How is your spiritual/humanist development going? Is your home a haven? How do you manage stress? Anger? Fear? Do you have things to look forward to? What are you doing to assure that when the hard parts of life find you, you have a well of resiliency, of hope and determination, of support, to draw from?

As the Boy Scouts say: Be Prepared.

Short, sweet, overly-earnest though it may be...my February blog post is at an end.

Peace and good things,

Eliza.

Photo credit: By Unknown photographer; Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam - Website Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43555059