From endurance to resilience and more

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, January 3, 2019

Camera motion treats photographer to surprising view of Christmas lights. Photo by Fred Monk

’Tis the season for naming the Word of the Year. And if you can endure one more nominee….

My choice last week of “endurance” as my Word of the Year for 2018 led to some very thoughtful and surprising responses. Here are just a few.

Kathie Reid who, with her husband, has a farm near Cremona, acknowledges that agriculture does, indeed, require endurance. But endurance has a personal significance for her involving family over farming. She writes:

“In May 2018, we moved my 87 year old father about 200 miles closer to us. His health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer manage without family involvement and I’m the only family who can fill this role. My mother, also 87, has lived in a lodge for many years. Over the last year her health has also significantly declined, requiring more of my attention. 

“While I’m happy to assist my parents, the weight of this burden is beginning to take its toll on my own health. Your column citing endurance struck a chord. I will need endurance, as Linda Kavelin-Popov defines it, in order to walk beside my parents in their last years without beating them to the finish line.”

Yes, Kathie, you are wise to acknowledge your own needs. As is often said: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

Kathie’s commitment to family leads to a response we received from journalist David Forbes, formerly of Cochrane and now living in Medicine Hat. He comments on some of the answers to Tsuut’ina Chief Lee Crowchild’s request for words that kept people going in 2018:

“In the list of things that keep you going following Lee's question, the one thing missing is the word ‘family.’ Although several people mentioned parts of the family, family can be more than brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, etc. My family is important to me and that includes people like you and other longtime friends. I may not see them very often or keep in touch with them as much as I would like, but family is still what does make me keep on going.”

But underlying endurance and the drive to keep on going, according to my writing colleague Lori Craig and her husband Dave Fowles, there’s another closely related virtue: resilience.

Over dinner the other day Lori related how our positive presence to one another promotes the inner resilience we need in order to endure. It’s all about “FANning the embers of another’s soul – giving air to the human spirit that may feel as though it is suffocating, buried under overwhelming commitments, debt, sorrow, and fear.”

Dave, avid horseman as well as lawyer and facilitator of inter-community relations, added:

“Resilience is a learned behavior. It is the sum of our learned experience that we can endure whatever befalls us, that we will rise again to our feet when knocked to our knees. It is what provides us the hope that we can endure, the will to try and the knowledge that we will once again experience joy and find our rewards.”

Horses are “mirrors of our emotions,” he said. “If you build in kindness and respect, you will receive that in return. If you build in resilience, so too will the horse reflect that.”

In closing, there’s a special vitamin for my own soul’s experiences with endurance and resilience: serendipitous encounters with beauty. This is true also for Fred Monk, former pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Cochrane.

The photographer/priest, retired now and living in Medicine Hat, has been experimenting lately with ICM, Intentional Camera Motion. Over the holidays he turned his camera on Christmas light displays and produced some awesome images viewable on his website, Here’s one of his images that inspired his choice for Word of the Year for 2018: “surprise.”

Thanks, and may 2019 be a year blessed with beautiful surprises for all our readers.

© 2019 Warren Harbeck

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