More Than a Survivor
by Helen Whelan
Why do we admire the brave? Why does a crowd root for the underdog? Why is it we find resilience so appealing?
Of course it's heartening to see real pluck and determination, to think maybe we can muster that kind of resilience. But I think it's something more.
Life can be cruel and as Cast Away film director Robert Zemeckis writes, "Surviving is easy, it's living that's difficult."
So, here's to the 'living,' to those of us who take the risks, standup to the bullies, step out into the unknown.
Here's to that tenacious thread that runs through the most remarkable people. They're often the quiet ones. They have backbone, conviction and vision. They make choices and commitments. They don't worry how they look getting what they want.
Not that they're bull-headed or blind. The truly resilient have this wonderful ability to bend, to shift, to do whatever it takes. I've seen that in the great, quiet people I know. Watching them has helped me to shift my thinking or my approach to a problem — even when I'm not clear of the outcome.
My mother often says, "It's about taking one step at a time." She should know. In 1951, in the midst of the Korean War she took a major step by moving to New York. She was 24 and knew no one. And yet she knew she did not want to be betrothed in an arranged marriage. Suki Kim felt that wonderful, youthful exuberance of, "I can do anything. I'll just go to a new country and make a new start."
But starting is rarely easy. With no money, my mom dropped to 87 pounds and struggled with college courses at New York University. And with no word from my grandparents, she thought they had been killed.
My mom found security by marrying my dad and settling down to raise a rambunctious brood. Fast-forward to today and my mom has four grown kids, her own business and ever thrifty, she's debt free! Most of all, she's focused on the future.
So where do we find this kind of strength?