The Gift of Adversity




   I’m not sure when people reached the erroneous conclusion that “easy” is synonymous with “happy.” I do know that it is a societal problem and I see long range trouble stemming from it in the future. Even in the present, such a mindset inevitably breeds resentment and uncertainty when individuals don’t get what they feel they deserve.

       I do not like the word “deserve.” It’s a self-serving and superficial concept that implies the misguided notion that life is fair, when often it is not. And the truth of the matter is, that is good news for all of us.

       We learn how to do difficult things by having to do difficult things. Think about it. If life we always “fair,” we would never have to face adversity; we would never have to meet and overcome obstacles and it is by doing so that we discover who we are, as human beings and what we are capable of both surviving AND accomplishing. Life is much too big, dynamic and complex to be described by such a humdrum term as “fair.”

         I don’t have to look far to see proof of this. I see it every day at work. It is not fair that my folks ended up in a long term care facility; that some have out lived all of their families. It’s not fair that we have veterans who, after a life time of service, have to live in a place that offers lukewarm coffee, disinterested management and overworked caregivers. Cancer is not fair. A young man dying of a long illness that has resulted in dementia is not fair. Our working conditions and poor wages and lack of positive leadership; of ANY kind of leadership, is not fair. But my folks LIVE. They may have their off days, but on the whole, I complain about the unfairness of their situation more than they do. They laugh and tell me their stories and are not owned by the situation in which they have found themselves. THEIR courage gives ME courage.

           This is a difficult job. To do it well, we need a finely honed ability to persevere. There are shifts that we have to go against the system, the work ethic of others, management and the difficult days or moods of our residents.

       No one in this field for any length of time will not be changed in some profound way by it. It is through learning how to face adversity, to embrace and learn what it has to teach us, that we can ensure that we change for the better. If we accept those lessons, we become EMPOWERED. If we ignore them, we become EMBITTERED. The choice is up to us. It is not about the hand we are dealt. It’s about how we play it.

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