A word on resilience
I was on my way to The Starting Over Show a few months ago when someone drove into the back of my car. Bit of universal humour there, methinks! I'd arranged with the organiser, who I was really looking forward to meeting (a lot of synchronicities linked us and I was looking forward to seeing what was seeking to unfold) to hand out some leaflets for my forthcoming Power of Play (ing with your Problems) workshop (which, in the event - as you've probably guessed - never happened). The accident, however, not only wrote off my car, but stopped me in my tracks in many other respects, too.Now, as you know, when the universe gives me messages, I try to take note. This incident was no exception. Following my recovery from the initial physical and emotional side effects, I found myself re-evaluating aspects of my life. What was 'the universe' trying to tell me? Was there anything I needed to learn? The key message I received was that it would serve me to slow down; to simplify my life. I cancelled appointments and engagements that were not absolutely necessary, reined in my finances and used the time that I'd freed up to meditate and reflect on my life.
And when the settlement cheque for the car came through a few weeks later - it was a total write-off... guess what? Instead of simply following my 'kneejerk' reaction - to go out and get a new one - I stopped and reflected: 'Do I really need a car?' 'What is the opportunity in this situation?' Of course, I needed a car, I thought. I have clients... I could lose their custom if I can't drive to visit them.... But, digging deeper, I questioned, did I really....? I decided to give life a try without one. After all, petrol prices had stabilised just recently, but the general trend was up-and-up. My personal feeling was that, however much people tried to deny the 'inconvenient truth' of it, 'peak oil' was a reality - and that any efforts I was to take to manage without a car would be worthwhile in the long-run.
At first it was challenging, to say the least. I had to find new and creative ways to get places. I had to get up a couple of hours earlier to get to meetings; I had to treat clients at my home office rather than at theirs. But I managed. And after a couple of weeks I actually started to enjoy the increased simplicity of my life.My therapist (I was prescribed physio and psycho-therapy by the medical doctor who saw me as part of my claim) said this was unusual: 'Usually clients say to me they're gonna get a bigger and better car'. She looked at me in admiration. I'd chosen, instead, to look at the deeper meaning in the situation, and to adapt. And my personal view is that, with dwindling resources, volatile climates on an economic and environmental level, we're all going to have to learn to adapt - as Nietsche says, 'to dance on a shifting carpet'. And best always to adapt and change when it occurs to us, rather than waiting till we're hanging on to life by our fingernails!!!
And, as if to reward me for a lesson well learned, events seemed to turn full circle yesterday, when I got a call from the HR director of the local council. She wondered whether I would consider running 'resilience training' sessions for employees, who were finding the instability and uncertainty of continual restructuring unsettling and stressful. Could I, she asked, adapt my Power of Play (ing with your Problems) workshops to suit her audience?And it got me thinking, how can we learn - and help each other learn - instead of 'collapsing' internally in the face of change, going into 'poor me' or 'victim' consciousness... to see the opportunity in the situation and use it to rise like a phoenix above the ashes... in a word, to learn 'resilience thinking'?
The Transition Towns movement is one initiative that's doing a lot of good work in this area. And we're going to showcase some of this work on the little white feather Inspiration page in the next month or so. It's helping support communities in developing local approaches in the face of challenges like peak oil, dwindling resources and climate change. There's an active Transition group in my area.. and there may be in yours. If it appeals to you, why not get involved - or start one yourself! And if you're finding it a challenge finding the contacts you need... write in - I'd be happy to help!