In the Southern Hemisphere, we are celebrating spring day. The jasmine in my garden has recently come into bloom. Nature is awakening from the dormancy of winter.
As a child, I remember the significance of the 1st September. It was the day that the municipal (public) swimming pools opened. Irrespective of the weather conditions on that day, the swimming pools always opened. Having a swim on the 1st September (irrespective of the weather) elevated you in the peer group. You were part of the in-thing, the in-crowd. It was part of the ritual. If you did not have a swim on the 1st September, you felt out. More and more pressure built up internally, the longer you delayed your first plunge. You felt as if you were losing out. As I think back now, I can still feel how cold the water was when you eventually took the plunge. In the sixties, no municipal pool had the luxury of heating. As I reflect on this today, I realise that it was the coldness of the water that offered us the opportunity to feel alive.
Humfrey, my bull terrier was soaking up the sun today, like only he can. He treats every day as a spring day.
After reading my posting ‘something bigger than self’, my wife asked: ‘why must you have a crisis before you decide to live your life to the full?’
Facing a life-threatening crisis can help to put your life into perspective. It may challenge your beliefs about yourself, the limitations and restrictions that you may have unknowingly placed on yourself. It may activate the dreams that you have put on hold.
There are many stories of how the human spirit is able to transcend adversity. One of our national sporting heroines, Natalie du Toit, who lost a leg in a motor-cycle accident, became the first amputee ever to qualify for the Olympics, where she was placed 16th in the 10km ‘marathon’ swim at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In a session today, a client posed another question about crisis: what if it defeats you? He was feeling despondent with his struggle. He stated that he saw no light. He was right in the middle of a crisis. He felt lost and hopeless. He stated that he could understand why some people commit suicide.
I could offer no response that could lessen his pain. A crisis goes beyond words and explanations. As you try and assimilate a crisis in the initial stages, it can be very over-whelming. Nothing makes sense.
His question kept on replaying itself in my mind: What if it defeats you? As I pondered this question, another question emerged. How do you position yourself in relation to a crisis? If you position yourself in opposition to the crisis, as being separate from the crisis, as if it exists external to yourself, then you may be setting up a combative, competitive context in which defeat becomes a real possibility.
While a crisis demands that you take stock of the past (learning from your mistakes and/or accepting your failures), it also challenges you to be more conscious of the present moment that is unfolding (your response to the situation). In addition, it activates you to create a new way forward, that offers more balance and harmony in the way you live your life.
In my experience, a crisis responds best to reflective space; to introspective space. As you encounter the severity of the crisis, you are called on to engage ‘something bigger than SELF’ to assist you through the feelings of ‘powerlessness’. A crisis activates a spiritual part of your being. As you embrace this aspect of yourself, the need for acceptance comes to the fore. Acceptance of ‘what is’, is required in order to resolve the crisis. Paradoxically, accepting ‘defeat’ is part of the transformational healing process.