“Wind does not break the tree that bends” envisions resilience probably like none other.
Like the tree that knows how to cope with the distraught elements, weathering storms is typical of humans too, some do with grace, some not quite. Survival too can be an act of resilience even if the self is battered and traumatised.
I remember a viral video of a baby iguana escaping a string of marauding snakes. At one point, several snakes whorl around the baby iguana in what seems like an ungainly, deathly embrace. Then somehow magically to unheard divine applause, the iguana slithers free, bursting forth from the noodles-like, hydra-like snaky thing, gleefully escaping into the higher realms. That is resilience for you – unflinching, undaunted, with a spirit to battle the odds, and wanting to be free, and to inspire.
A man with two stubs for hands says “My grandma told me that once I shake someone’s hand, my disability goes away”. It must feel unhuman to not hold flowers, to not hold a lover’s hands, to not fondle, to not feel the gentle waves… but what choices does the man have. He does not mope or grieve. The man eminently makes peace with his situation, controls his emotions, and looks life graciously in the eye. How very remarkable.
Resilience is an act of faith, of self-belief, pulling out the abnormal or unthinkable from the core of the self to transcend and reach a higher plane. It could be an act of sheer physicality denoting strength or muscle, or one that demonstrates the exercise of emotional quotient or some personality trait.
In 2002, it was the rarest of sights on a cricket field when Anil Kumble came out to bowl against the West Indies with his broken jaw in bandages, he showed tremendous grit, courage, and moral strength. Kumble bowled 14 consecutive overs, even dismissed the great Brian Lara. He was due to fly back to Bangalore the following day for surgery. He later said, “At least I can now go home with the thought that I tried my best.”. David Whyte in his unmissable book ‘Consolations’ and writing about robustness, says – “To be robust is to show a willingness to take collateral damage, to put up with temporary pain, noise, chaos, or our systems being temporarily undone.”.
There are many stories about resilience (think pandemic) and what stands out is — it is not about what happens to us but how we respond.