There seems to be no doubt that the ability to let things roll off our back like a duck can develop into a happier and more present tense life.  Our level of resiliency is directly tethered to how happy we feel. And, some people seem to be born with a better ability to bounce.  But how long before we can healthily bounce after something hard happens? How can we do it and not just pretend, but also eliminate the wallowing?

One of my favorite images of all time resides in the book ” Grief and Praise” by Martin Pretchel, who is a writer and teacher from the Mayan tradition.  He talks about when someone has experienced a heartbreak, a death of a dear one, or something that breaks them open, the Mayan people of their tribe theoretically encircle the waist of the person grieving with a long rope.  The village holds onto the end of the rope, and lets the person run to edge of the sea and wail and cry and sob and feel it all.  But when it’s time, the tribe will pull the person back and not let them stay there to wither, but instead call them to task and living.  We don’t allow this in western culture as much, because people button up quickly and get back to work.  The grief gets stuck on the body and never rinses out, therefore the resiliency is pretend instead of helpful and real.

True resiliency comes with a real rinse first.  Otherwise, it will find a place to surface down the road in the form of addictions, meanness, disease, or complacency.  Notice, in Martin’s story, it takes the village to help keep us honest and steady.  Grief is grief is grief when it happens in the body.  I noticed familiar center of chest pain when father died as when my cat died- though not the same depth, but still a similar constriction.  The things we carry make us who we are, but can we carry them better so the don’t dictate us and smother our next moves? Resiliency is learned first from allowing the feelings and speedbumps to be there is full form, without apology.  With this practice, perhaps we will need less time at the edge of the sea.