re·sil·ience 1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
I’ve always had a fascination with rocks; I’ve been attracted to them for as long as I can remember. I was blessed to grow up on a beautiful piece of land in Northern Ontario; 200 acres of mostly trees with a private lake…and a whole lot of rocks. I would spend hours looking at them, picking them up, examining them, deciding which I would keep, which I would skip on the lake, and which I would put back exactly where I found them. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to which I kept or discarded; some of the prettiest or most sparkly rocks were not kept and added to my collection. For many years, I didn’t know why that was, but I later came to understand what it was about the rocks I was drawn to and chose to keep – their energy. When I picked up a rock and held it in my hand, how the rock made me feel was the deciding factor. I collected only the rocks that made me feel good; safe, grounded, protected, happy.
My fascination with rocks only deepened when I was school aged and learned that rocks were essentially the result of what had happened to them. Simply put – sand and minerals had become rocks through compression. Rocks are HARD…seemingly unbreakable. To think that they are a product of what has happened to them was beautiful to my young and inquisitive mind. I began to really look at the rocks and wonder about their stories. I began to really notice the various colours and shapes in each of my rocks…and then I realized the commonalities between rocks and human beings. Everything that happened to them shaped what they had become…and would continue to. Is that really so different for us? Like rocks, we have been shaped into who we are largely by our experiences. While I had a lovely childhood in many ways, it had its share of darkness. I had to ‘grow up’ quickly, I had to ‘be strong’, I had to survive. And so, I became resilient. And in doing so, I likened myself to a rock; a product of what has happened to me, but seemingly unbreakable.
But does being resilient mean that we are unbreakable? No. And thinking so can be dangerous. I have learned that in the years leading up to my middle age. We, like rocks, regardless of our resiliency – are STILL a product of what happens to us. With enough pressure, rocks will break. So will we. And with constant wear and tear, a rock will wear down. So will we.
We must remember that we are, in fact, breakable, and that can be a difficult and humbling reality. I have found it to be a relief. It is as if permission has been granted to not have to be and do everything and that I not only can, but need to take care of myself. I am strong and I am resilient, but I still carry a rock with me as a reminder that even something created from immense pressure can be shattered by its surroundings. Just like me.