Nana korobi, ya oki, Japanese proverb.
Get knocked down seven times, get up eight.
If you're familiar with this proverb, and indeed if you have it somewhere you can see it regularly, you know where I'm headed.
I won't insult your intelligence by repeating the obvious, other than to point out what's obvious but we too often forget: someone always and forever has it worse than we do.
To wit: after massive expense and losses to move to Oregon, almost immediately I was surrounded by raging fires which threatened to take out my house.
Kindly, I still have mine. Thousands of others do not.
This year I had an horrific car accident, fractured my left finger, got my 22nd concussion, fractured a pinky toe, got an infected arm, had my ovaries taken out.....okay, so it was a rough year.
Kindly, I still have a life. My health. Thousands, millions of others do not, or didn't make it at all.
This year, my income plummeted, then disappeared. As a travel blogger, nobody can pay me. As an international adventure athlete, I can't travel.
Kindly, I still have a disability income, a roof over my head and food in the fridge. The growing homeless communities here in Eugene largely do not.
Kindly, nobody in the medical community gets a day off. They largely don't get to choose how to spend their days, other than helping other families say goodbye to their loved ones.
Each of us has had a journey this year, and for some it was far worse than others. If nothing else, the moment I feel myself start to slide into a pity party, I go drive by one of the homeless camps, which are growing by the day. Sometimes I leave blankets or food. They are in Denver too, near where my boyfriend lives.
The fights and sirens keep people up at night. And that's for those who are inside, warm, and relatively safe.
I took a chance, sold and moved. I had options. Millions of people here and abroad don't. That doesn't make me lucky, for I worked hard to have those options.
Those who thrive in hard times have often been through very hard times. That is what gives us resilience. We know we can make it. I've had to file bankruptcy, couch surf for a year, live at the mercy of others' generosity until I got back on my feet. Horrible accidents, sexual assaults, rape. People go through these things. Some don't make it. Some of those who do are scarred and bitter for life.
Others learn to grow where they're planted. They may not bloom. But they grow, and in growing, also grow a greater appreciation for what adversity gives them.
Above all, they learn to appreciate what they have. Have compassion and empathy for those who continue to struggle. Not everybody gets up the first time they are knocked down, much less the eighth time.
How we have dealt with adversity this year has been instructive, at least for me. Earlier this year in Nashville, a reporter was speaking into her mike in front of one of the more offensive signs of the Apocalypse:
Sacrifice the Weak
Indeed. Physically weak, if you don't mind my pointing this out, has nothing to do with what a human being can contribute. Stephen Hawking comes to mind. One of the greatest minds of all time, trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, but still quite able to contribute untold treasures to our understanding of the Universe. Weak, but powerful nonetheless.
Resilience isn't just about the physical, it's about how we process pain, loss, disease. It's about caring enough about others that we do our best to do what's right for the greater good.
And with all due respect to some folks, that kindly does not include sacrificing our elders simply because, well, they're "weak." They have a great deal to teach us about getting up over and over again. Many of those weak elders, including retired nurses, came back to help. Some of them didn't make it, either.
The greatest resilience I saw this year and continue to see is in our medical community.
The other incredible resilience I continue to witness is among front line workers and communities of color who continue to come to work to provide for us all, even in the face of folks who feel they should sacrifice themselves for the "greater good." Well, they are. Have been all year.
These are people who have been knocked down over and over again, not just by Covid, but by life before Covid was part of the conversation. They are and continue to be for me the #1 lesson of the year in resilience, combined with courage, character and immense dedication. They have sacrificed plenty, for many of us are alive because of them.
We were calling these good people heroes back in April.
We had no idea then how heroic they would be by the beginning of 2021.
I am in awe. Beyond grateful. And to show that gratitude, I double mask, stay home, social distance and wash my hands.
So if there is one lesson I've learned this year, and I hope you have too, is that if you and I respect the incredible resilience of those who have worked so hard to save us this year, let's please do what they ask: don't be yet one more case they have to carry.
You and I might be the one who might not get back up this time.