Virtue Call: Resilience

Definition: 1. the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress,  2.  an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change <emotional resilience>

The Pillsbury Doughboy™ came into existence in 1965 as an advertising icon for the Pillsbury Company. The Doughboy was round and white with a baker’s hat on its head. Until 2004, many television commercials for the Pillsbury Company concluded with a human finger poking the squishy tummy of the Doughboy. The resulting indentation would disappear as the Doughboy responded with a giggly “Ooh Ooh!” The humorous “Ooh Ooh!” still elicits a chuckle when I visualize this embodiment of the virtue of resilience. The Doughboy exemplifies a recovery of its size and shape after deformation caused by a compressive stress.

There have been moments in my own life when the humorous “Ooh Ooh!” has facilitated my own resilient recovery from traumas that definitely dented the size and shape of my daily life. One morning, during the 1970’s, I sat at the kitchen table of a girlfriend. We were both 26, and we both felt buffeted by the vicissitudes of our current lives. In the time-honored tradition of women, we had come together at my friend’s kitchen table for tea and solace. As our babies crawled on the floor around us, we shared our stories.

As our conversational sharing continued, a relentless droning sound drew our attention to the kitchen window. Entangled in a small web that graced the window’s edge with its delicate and deceptively beautiful weaving, a solitary fly struggled for freedom. My friend decided to rescue the insect and successfully disentangled it using toothpicks.

We now watched the fly test its independence by crawling along the table. This troublesome fly found a spot of honey on the table and was entrapped by its sweet desires. This time, it did not escape from its predicament unscathed. With the handy toothpicks, I disengaged the fly from its mire of honey. However, part of one wing retained evidence of the recent, gooey escapade.

By now, our conversation had begun to incorporate the adventures and misadventures of this fly. We were seeing parallels between our own lives that were much akin to those of the fly. We began to interweave the fly’s lessons into our own musings such as beware of enmeshment in sweet desires and well-meaning rescuers! As we philosophized, the earth-bound fly wobbled to the table’s edge, promptly fell over the precipice, and landed on its back with legs churning. With the useful toothpicks, I helped the fly right itself. My friend and I watched the fly hobble across the floor and out the back door. Damaged, but strong in spirit, this feisty fly continued its journey of life.

We began to laugh uproariously since the fly’s bad day had become a personification of our own stories and the multiple opportunities to say “Ooh Ooh!” We concluded that we too were a little damaged but still moving and still resilient in spirit.

Reflection:

There is an invisible life force inherent in all created things. It is often unacknowledged and untapped in its potential for the limitless energy that is available during challenges and adversity. It is the resiliency of a flower that pops back up after being driven into the ground by a hard rain and a strong wind. It is the unexplainable, resilient strength of spirit within a lost dog as it travels many miles to reunite with its family. It is the intention found in the words “I am not done yet” that sustains any human being subjected to the inner and outer challenges inherent in physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual adversities. Resilience is the bounce in life!

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