Archive for the 'resilience' Category


December 27, 2014

I was visiting my mother and recounting to her how Jordan and I had been moving boxes of files from her apartment to my house, and I mentioned that Jordan had borrowed a dolly from the super of the apartment complex to help with that.  Since my mother doesn’t hear well, especially unexpected words, I asked if she knew what I had said, and she replied, “Oh yes, a dolly, just like my Patsy Ann doll.”

(The stories about her childhood Patsy Ann doll are legion, including a quite memorable and climactic one about its demise at the hands of her younger cousin, so she knew I would know what she meant.)

And then she started laughing really hard, and I laughed, too.


Falls and phoenices

March 1, 2013

Is that the plural for phoenix?

I’m thinking about public figures, especially politicians, who take a fall.  Some rise up again later, and I was wondering about why some do and some don’t.  Clearly behaviors that are used after the fall make a difference — the apology (or not), the PR firm hired, the length of withdrawal from the fray, the willingness to take whatever the next step turns out to be for reinvention.

What I’ve wondered recently is whether one variable could be how much the individual truly believed they deserved their (first) success in the first place.  If they harbored misgivings about how they came to be elected or land the nomination or whatever, and then they fall from grace in a scandal, do they have the wherewithal to think of their situation in terms of, “Well, this is interesting;  I wonder what will come out of it and how this all serves my greater good”?

I wonder whether people whose house has been built, not upon sand, but with a flaw in its foundation, implode when they fall.

Do we ask them to take the fall nonetheless?  I think we give them a raincheck until they can fall safely.

If they continue to repeat the pattern, eventually they will find themselves with new teachers and classmates, as the old cohort moves on.

I’ve been getting seemingly random wrong-number phone calls, on both my cell phone and my landline, in which there is a pause followed by an automated “Goodbye!”  I’ve wondered what it might represent metaphorically, and all I can come up with is what might happen when a soul is finishing up its final incarnation and makes good on a promise to bid one of those serial “I won’t jump because my parachute is defective” folks goodbye before she does.

Reframing traumatic experience

September 4, 2011

How somebody interacting with us intends their words sometimes needs to be acceded to and sometimes needs to be ignored, I think.  If you ask me in a serious tone to please get off the foot of yours I didn’t realize I was stepping on, I”ll do it, quickly.  If you’re saying something analogous to my young child responding to not getting something he wants by telling me he thinks I’m “mean and stupid,” I’ll probably ignore you but I’ll try not to make it obvious.

I bring this up after reading Edward Rothstein’s piece in the NYTimes on commemorating 9/11 and his reaction to the Obama Administration’s attitude towards how to commemorate what happened that day.

First of all, I don’t agree that “resilience implies a kind of firm passivity.”  Resilience to me is being able to bounce back, to keep going in the long run.

But my main frustration with the piece is the implication that a particular emotional reaction is somehow required of the occasion; why?  What purpose does it serve?  Why do we have to feel “they hate us,” even if they say they do or act as if they do?  Why do we have to persist in a narrative of taking this as personally as possible, instead of grieving our dead and damaged and finding the most helpful way to frame the event so we can go forward into our future?  Feeling like victims, giving into self-pity, looking at events in a way that highlights drama and trauma — these things are understandable, but as phases we go through — in the long run, they don’t help, they hinder.  I’m in favor of reframing our attitude towards 9/11 from fear and politics to resilience and coping with the uncertainties of this world.