Lessons in Resilience

We’re not going to lie. The pandemic is really growing old and we cannot wait until we have an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, or better yet it goes away for good.

While the world continues to debate how or when we will be out of this pandemic, I can honestly say that Billy and I are fed up with hearing random nonsense and futile predictions about our future. But we must stay positive and recognize the lessons we can learn from this unfortunate historical event.

What we do know is that every generation will face their own set of challenges, and born out of those struggles we often see innovations that can shift us toward an entirely new direction.

Think about all of the generations before us that were able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, yet somehow the human race continued to march forward and adapt. Humans are survivors and we will, collectively, get through this pandemic. We know that on the other side of this mess we will be stronger and more resilient.

For inspiration I often look to my grandfather and to my father who have had their own set of challenges, only to become more resilient when they got to the other side. They are both survivors and carried on despite what the world brought to their feet.

My great grandparents left Ireland during World War I and immigrated to Boston, MA in hopes of building a better life. They had barely unpacked their bags when the Spanish Flu of 1918 hit, a pandemic that took two long years to resolve and wiped out millions across the globe. Broke and discouraged my great grandparents found the courage to trudge forward, while teaching my grandfather, who was just a child, an important lesson in resilience as they survived the pandemic and constructed their new life in America.

Boston on a quiet morning.

On a side note, if you would like to know more about the Spanish Flu of 1918, I suggest reading the book “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History” by John M. Barry. I was lucky enough to locate a free copy of this well-researched and highly educational book at our local library, so make sure you check out your local resources before you drop some cash.

My grandfather got to use resilience a second time when just over a decade later he found himself knee deep in The Great Depression. He had just left home to make a life for himself when he suddenly found himself without a job or a roof over his head. In his words “I had no choice but to pick myself up from my bootstraps” then he forged ahead and eventually found himself a job working on the railroad. He later met my grandmother and created a beautiful life with six happy children – and in my opinion, became the first generation to truly define the meaning of frugality.

My father discovered resilience when he found himself drafted into the Vietnam War, a war he didn’t believe in. He had just married my mother and was recently accepted into Boston College, yet by no fault of his own he was forced into a situation where he had to fight for his life – thanks to a purely political mission set forth by former President Richard Nixon.

My father survived the perils of war and later found himself safely stationed in Berlin, Germany where he stayed with a kind family, not far from the Berlin Wall – which was erected in 1961 to separate the East from the West. A wall erected by the German Democratic Republic in order to restrict movement between the East and the West, which should have never been built in the first place. Many families found themselves torn apart until the wall came down during President Reagan’s term in 1989. Over 100,000 people were murdered as they attempted to climb the wall in hopes of seeing their loved ones again

Reshaping our future

Now it’s our turn to use resilience. So far we’ve witnessed the amazing character of so many people. People who are working around the clock to find a cure for COVID-19. People who are on the frontlines fighting to help those inflicted with this horrible disease survive the insurmountable. People who are working hard to feed us and deliver critical supply lines. And more importantly, we’ve seen human compassion on a level we’ve never thought possible.

We have come up with creative ways to get our lives up and running. We are wearing masks to protect one another, staying six feet apart, installing plexiglass, altering our work habits, and adapting to our new normal. It is our hope that this reshaping of America – and the world – will teach us new values.

  • We’ll understand the importance of spending more time with family and friends.
  • We will eat out less and make home cooked meals together instead of racing over to the nearest drive thru.
  • We will become more conscientious of how and what we spend our hard-earned dollars on and make savings a priority.
  • We will have discovered a new hobby or activity so we need less go go entertainment.
  • We will embrace solitude and appreciate peace and tranquility as we feed our spirit.
  • We’ll never take our health for granted ever again.

We will find a cure for COVID-19. We will survive.

We are resilient.

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