|Teacher Viola Swamp from the Miss Nelson books.|
Our experiences turn us into teachers. They also turn us flexible, cause us to finds ways to prevail in the real world and not the one of our fantasies. We are water, we are streams whose natural paths are clogged, blocked by debris or the work of zealous beavers. We find our way. We may be slowed, we are not stopped.
It is within the past 8 years, perhaps less, that I have come to know myself as an adaptive creature. The ways I once moved, walked, cooked, the ways I once lived have vanished. Those ways have been replaced by the next best thing. I marvel at and give thanks for substitutions, support devices which began with a cane, my own unexpected capacity for adjusting and the previously unnoticed corners into which this turn of events has shined a light. I have come to believe that we all live, in some fashion, adaptively. That there is any life where all is perfection seems unlikely.
Another belief of mine is that we are here to give comfort and encouragement to each other, to bring the good we possess and share it as widely as possible. Our disappointments and the ways in which we cope with, even triumph over them help us write our playbook of clever, though perhaps awkward-looking tricks. That we must all cope with something we didn't choose unites us. Fighting what is unwanted will not make it go away but it will embitter us and wear us out. Better to maximize the skills, the strengths we still possess.
Yet another belief (maybe I should just have made a list) is that we are not meant to be defeated by the charging rhinoceros, singular or plural, that upended our plans. That onslaught becomes part of the equation, part of us, of our experience. We ignore or exclude it at our peril. How much better to make it, if not an ally, then at least a consultant. Illness, injury, affliction have demands, the first one being a course correction. If we are able to continue, more or less, in the direction we were going when we met the rhinoceros on the road, we will at the very least be going at a different pace, probably taking a detour, maybe hunkering in place while the dust settles.
The human spirit, with which we are field-equipped, survives disappointment. It survives jolts and losses, the forces of nature and time and our own unrealized dreams. We redraw the boundaries, surrender expectations in favor of a general trust in the good outcome, find comfort in what is and try not to keep breaking our own hearts over and over by dwelling on what is not.