Serendipity | Appreciation Through Challenges



Countless examples exist of inspiration, kindness and generosity among people learning about improvising and compromising as circumstances surrounding them suddenly changed. Pandemic was an unfamiliar word to many, and even those knowing the meaning, found its presence difficult to accept. Challenges continue and will for undetermined amounts of time. Hopefully we’re realizing our blessings and shortcomings. We shouldn’t take for granted that stores will be stocked with basic necessities. We’ve relearned tomorrow is never guaranteed, something we already knew, but often think such realities are for others, not us personally.

Psychological studies indicate it’s not necessarily what happens that adversely affects our lives, it’s how we react to what happens. Inspiring stories tell of people who have met with unbelievable difficulties, not because of poor choices or decisions, but often for reasons undetermined. Sometimes it’s health issues or catastrophic family situations, or what some might label continual bad luck. However it’s termed, some folks through struggles, determination and faith in themselves and others, come away forever changed, often for the better, and grateful for the outcome. Other people become despondent or bitter when their goals are not realized.

How do we learn to be resilient, grateful and kind? Some insist those are inherent characteristics, and perhaps they are to an extent. Often they’re modeled by important people in our lives: parents, teachers, neighbors, good friends, and sometimes total strangers. Keeping a gratitude journal is often recommended as an antidote for depression or while mourning the sadness of a loved one’s death or personal health issues. In remembering and writing about those occasions where people extended themselves to help and heal us, we find comfort and beautiful examples of how the smallest gesture can mean so much. We don’t have to wait for a tragedy to occur before we begin journaling. Whatever our life’s pathway, bumps and detours always exist. Reflecting on others’ goodness and generosity can help make our journey much more meaningful.

And always there’s lighthearted humor to help us through. Where does humor exist in situations of death and untold sadness as our lives, security and livelihood are affected? Sometimes gentle humor, like sunny days, provides different perspectives that may inspire. That vision change can help us discover coping skills within ourselves, and remind us to help others struggling to find their way.

As one who thoroughly enjoys photographs of family and friends, and movies, even those from long ago with no sounds, but hundreds of memories, I decided to relive cherished memories during quarantine time. I watched videos starting with the births of our three children, now all in their 40s, and photos of much loved family members no longer with us. We could see kids grow up, adults get older, and technology keep improving. I cried remembering sweet moments, and fully understanding there are no do-overs in life.

So we do our best, remembering kindness, compassion and forgiveness can literally change lives. We accept that we can’t change the world, or eradicate disease, but we can make profound differences for others and ourselves. And we can share our resources to help others, understanding we all need encouragement and sometimes financial or physical assistance given generously. As we help others, we help ourselves with a changed way of living, even in difficult times.

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