Resilience is often thought of as snapping back to baseline. Time after time, I am reminded that during major transitions, baselines are altered permanently. So, resilience isn’t really about going back to baseline, but accepting that baseline is not where it used to be. And then, learning to accept and love the new baseline.
Nine days after loss of electricity due to hurricane Sandy, with the heat finally blasting through our vents and trying to get back to normal, my 13 year old daughter said: “Nothing will ever be the same mom”. I had to probe further about where this comment was coming from. She was right, it felt like normal wasn’t normal anymore. Once you have been through something traumatic with high degree of uncertainty as to the future, once your world has turned upside down and stayed that way for a while, what is normal anymore?
I remember the 3rd day after the storm, I lay in bed with my eyes closed and all I could see was a high speed slide show of uprooted trees, power poles split in half and wrapped in electric lines in the middle of the road, trees fallen onto homes and broken through their roofs, and road signs mangled and thrown aside like a used crinkled tissue., and we were not by the shore line where most of the damage had occurred. How do you get those slides out of your slide deck? Do you want to?
We tend to get too comfortable in the material trappings of our lives. We get distracted with our emails, texts, phones, and computers. We assume we’ll always be warm, have food, and drive our cars. When there is no food, car to drive or gas to drive with, and stores to be open to buy food, all of a sudden you are woken up from a dream of assumptions and expectations.
Thinking back about what my daughter said, I am glad that nothing will ever be the same. If life’s experiences were forgotten because they were inconvenient or unpleasant, then what would have been the point? As much as I am grateful for having our heat back and our refrigerator working again, lights to turn on, I now know that all of it could disappear in a snap. What endures is something that cannot be taken away so easily. What endures is humility, kindness, generosity, compassion, and meaningful connections.
When I hear the voice of the repairman and notice the crack in his thank you as I wish him safety on our roof, or when the gas station attendant says: “You have yourself a good day now”, and I know that he really means it as he looks into my eyes, I know that nothing will ever be the same. And that is a good thing.
We here in the East Coast of these United States have been known for our toughness bordering on being heartless and uncaring. I know now having survived Sandy, that we can change that perception. We can be known for our hearts. I know today I am more proud of living in NJ than ever before. I have experienced untold acts of kindness and humility and nothing will ever be the same, thankfully!
If you are struggling with defining your new baseline or wondering how you'll enhance your resilience during times of transition, you may want to work with a transition coach. Contact me for a 30 minute complimentary consultation to determine if transition coaching can help you get through your life challenges.