Worse Than A Root Canal

I’m beyond envious of Vlad’s new two-part morning ritual.

Every day, he and I usually arrive at the baseball field a little before his friend Moon does.

The moment Moon is off leash he runs towards us, waiting for the opportunity to steal whatever ball Vlad has in play.

Vlad lets him.

Once Moon’s succeeded, he returns to his owners who then offer Vlad one of Moon’s balls.

Vlad gladly accepts it.

Then for better part of the next hour, in a method known only to him, Vlad selects person after person to play fetch with, making sure everyone on the field has a turn.

When it’s time to go, Moon’s owner and I cross the field and approach each other.

We switch our balls back.

The very instant the balls are out of sight, Vlad and Moon turn to each other.

They begin a spirited combination of madcap chase and gladiatorial wrestling.

Mind you, they’ve completely ignored each other for the past hour.

Eventually, we leash our dogs and they walk out together.

Ritual complete.

Their fluidity and recovery in the face of Puppy Adversity (Moon stealing Vlad’s ball; both balls suddenly vanishing) has inspired this month’s theme and meditation HERE.

Namely, The Power of Resilience.

(stolen photo of Moon from his Dad’s IG)

Websters defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

Going beyond that, the American Psychological Association tells us that resilience requires “mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment.

IE, there’s an all-important “how” component to being resilient, one that can actually be developed.

None of us will probably ever reach the level of resilience of those two puppy friends, one where Vlad simply shrugs off the loss of his favorite ball and eagerly accept another…or when both balls get taken away,they simply and joyfully turn to other games.

And yet cultivating more resilience in our own lives––especially because there’s interesting neuroscience proving we can do just that––is absolutely enormously worthwhile.

More on that front soon…

Speaking of resilience, I have an update about Agathor, my friend’s dog who was in a freak accident that left his hind legs paralyzed.

Sincere thanks to everyone who donated and everyone who sent good thoughts his way.

There has been a glimmer of hope in Agathor’s physical therapya muscle twitch here and there.

Perhaps more importantly, the therapist believes the window for possible recovery is actually eight months, projecting that Agathor might be fully restored by then.

Beyond even that, with a complicated wheel device for his hind legs (thanks to your donations), Agathor has more or less become bionic.

His spirits have risen tremendously now that he’s somewhat mobile again.

I’ll keep you posted on his recovery, and again, more info and ways to donate are HERE.

I have many––perhaps maybe TOO many––stories of resilience in my own life.

Many of them come from a particularly difficult time, right after I finished writing and directing an indie film.

For a brief, shining moment, having climb the Mt. Everest of actually getting a production funded and produced, I felt like I was on top of the world.

It was, however, decidedly short-lived.

A period of intense tumult and personal chaos ensued––details in the future memoir––requiring me to pretty much rebuild and start from scratch.

My indie film had impressed some important people––but hadn’t yet found a distributor––and I was beyond broke.

A particularly humbling moment was returning to a graphics temp gig at an investment bank, one of the ways I’d supported myself before filmmaking promised to pay off.

The cognitive dissonance reached fever pitch when one day, alongside film people who were much more famous than I was, I found myself invited to be on a prestigious panel at Lincoln Center.

Still hoping to work that day to meet the rent, I decided to ask my supervisor if I could take a suspiciously long lunch.

When asked why I’d need to take off for three hours, rather than explaining the extraordinary volatility of my circumstances, I felt it simpler to mutter something about the dentist.

Truthfully, acquiring those resiliency skills of rising up when your good fortune has completely plummeted, can indeed feel as painful as any root canal.

There are so many great songs embodying the spirit of resilience.

For example, Chumbawumba’s 1997 mega-hit Tubthumping HEREcomes to mind.

You probably don’t know it by the title, but the refrain is indelible: 

“I get knocked down but I get up again…”

Yet my vote hands down for an official Resilience Anthemgoes to the incredible Elaine Stritch singing Sondheim’s I’m Still Here.

There’s a particularly amazing performance of it for Sondheim’s 80th birthday at Carnegie Hall HERE.

Elaine, surrounded by arguably the five other greatest female Broadway living legends, closes out the show and brings the house down.

In every moment, you can feel the veracity and ferocity of her lived experience.

Every word is a testament to her own epic resilience

It’s amazing…and you should definitely watch it more than a few times HERE.

I have another personal and more recent anecdote about resilience, one with a meta element.

Namely, a few years ago I was hired by an enormous wellness siteto create a course about Financial Resilience.

The deal came just before Covid and as the pandemic spread, it felt particularly resonant with the times.

I dove deep into serious research and wrote 8 long lessons.

A film crew swung by my apartment twice to film the video components.

Near the end of all my work, however, my editor went on maternity leave, returning to find a massive corporate restructuring, one which left the project in limbo. 

Everything we’d planned–––for example, eight Facebook Live Events on a page with 2 million followers––evaporated.

It was a particularly hard loss during difficult times for everyone.

Oh how I wish I were fractionally as resilient as Vlad and Moon when the ball gets taken away.

Something may still happen with the project someday and somewhere else…but this particular irony is not lost on me.

Namely, I cannot help but appreciate that the experience of writing about resilience only to have the project unravel, more or lessforced me to become more resilient.

A word to the wise: Be Careful What You Write About…

There’s lots more to say ahead––particularly some of the exciting neuroscience I researched for my suddenly orphaned course––but I thought the best way to complete this today was to share my favorite poem about resilience, Still I Riseby the great Maya Angelou

As someone who lived through…well, pretty much everything…and wrote 7 autobiographies about it all, I’ll let Maya have the last words.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod 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 backyard.

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
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

This month––and always––let’s rise together!

Namaste for Now,

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