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Nature made some tough stuff.
Squid, for example.
There’s an argument that squid will inherit the Earth.
Why squid? Because they — and the other cephalopods, cuttlefish and octopi — grow fast, quickly convert food into muscle, and have short lifespans of two to three years. That means that they run through generations quickly, giving them something of an environmental and evolutionary advantage when it comes to rapidly changing ocean temperatures and salinity.
The more generations there are in a 20-year span, the faster a species can adapt.
Cephalopods are naturally resilient — maybe not so much on an individual basis, but as a species.
There are a lot of things out in the world that show just how adaptable life can be: flowers that eke out an existence in nothing more than a crack in a rockface and a thimbleful of dirt, small mustards that survive in alkaline, wind-swept limestone barrens, any number of varied and specialized bog orchids.
Nature and quick evolution will break some of them — others will tough it out.
I wonder sometimes how we’ll fit with the future.
We’re pretty tough, too, but we don’t always give ourselves credit for it.
There are also people who rise above, who recover, who manage to put things behind them in a way that you’d swear no one ever could.
Things go through cycles, and right now, the cycle seems to be focused on the idea that things in life can break you, and that you necessarily will never recover. Face trauma — and we all face trauma, in different depths and intensities, from deaths in the family to war to highway accidents — and you’ll live with the results forever.
Once damaged, you will not heal.
Except, that’s not always true.
You’ve met them; I know I have. People who have gone through an absolutely meatgrinder in their lives, but who still get up and face the day. People for whom the fates have got beyond being merely uncaring and capricious, and right straight into cruel. People who live with constant pain, but push through, making every effort to put the best face on it that they can. People who, through no fault of their own, are surrounded by the ravages of drug addiction or violence.
Some of them are damaged permanently; others, less so.
I’m not saying that trauma doesn’t ever leave a mark, nor am I saying that the mark it leaves may truthfully mean you are incapable of functioning like others. (On top of that, there are also people who are clearly masking serious issues by burying significant problems that they don’t want to face — avoiding issues instead of fixing them.)
But there are also people who rise above, who recover, who manage to put things behind them in a way that you’d swear no one ever could. In fact, I started thinking about this column because of people in my life who have done exactly that, and legitimately bristle at the thought that they are now expected to be hostages of their past.
Over and above everything else, people are different, and trauma marks people differently.
As with anything human, we’re embued with a range of skills and weaknesses.
One thing is true: we focus on our own fears and frailties, and see them in different proportion. They are personal. But chances are, for most of us, there are people out there going through far worse things in their lives than you are — and some of them are able to rise anyway.
Pendulums swing, and resiliency is underrated right now.
It should be celebrated.
Just because the weight is making you bend, it doesn’t always mean you’ll break. And no one will hold you up better than someone who actually knows what you’re going through.
Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 36 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada. He can be reached at email@example.com — Twitter: @wangersky.
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