Recently, I fell down on a cement sidewalk. How we get back up is crucial. This is true with how we get back up after major life events, too: deaths, health problems, divorces, moves to new towns or cities, losing a job you love, or completing our education.
Initially when overcoming major set backs, I have sometimes felt depressed for a while, and then grieved the loss of the job, family member, or spouse after a divorce, or something I believed I failed at. However, at the end of the grieving process, it seemed new possibilities arose, but I had to be open to those possibilities. I always have found Maya Angelou’s poem inspiring and helpful.
“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou. Although you died on May 28, 2014, still you rise and teach us with the words you shared with us.
In the process of starting over after a set back, I have grieved sometimes over a period of months. There is no time clock for grief. It seems in the USA often if you cry too much, there is a belief that something is wrong with you. Often you are considered weak, and if you are a man who grieves, well …we are very hard on men! I think this is a falsehood. When you grieve you are willing to be vulnerable, to not be in control, and that takes a lot of courage and honesty with yourself. My tears have given me freedom to get back up and start anew.
This ability to rise again after I have had a major life challenge is linked to persistence and my commitment to my own life. Expecting what happens in my live to be easy, has not been my reality, and I speculate that is true for most of us humans. If I persist towards my own dreams and get back up after a set back, I feel good about myself. Here is a TED talk about persistence and what Angela Duckworth calls Grit.
“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin