What would you do if an injured loved one was hundreds of miles away from home and needed to get back but had no means to do so?
Living in a rural area in one of India’s poorest states, 15-year-old Jyoti had to quit school last year because her family had no money. Her father had left home to earn a meager income in the suburbs of Delhi where he worked as a rickshaw driver. First, he got injured and had to stop working. Then coronavirus struck. Now he had no job, no money, and no way to return home. Enter daughter Jyoti, who spent the family’s last pennies to buy a cheap bicycle and bring papa home. While Jyoti pedaled, papa sat on the back carrying a bag. For more than 700 miles. They lived off the kindness of strangers and slept at gas stations. You can read more about it in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.
It was more than just love that motivated a destitute 15-year-old girl to pedal roughly 100 miles a day hauling her father on the back of a bike that by itself was weighty (probably close to 40 pounds). I’ve done a fair bit of long-distance cycling on a bike that weighed a mere 15 pounds or so, and 50 miles on that was a workout. The absolute mass of Jyoti’s bike, plus two people and a large bag, would have challenged the strongest cyclist in top fitness.
So besides great love-I’m assuming-for her father, what else spurs a girl to such a daunting endeavor?
Psychology Today defines resilience as “the psychological quality that allows some people to be knocked down by the adversities of life and come back at least as strong as before. Rather than letting difficulties, traumatic events, or failure overcome them and drain their resolve, highly resilient people find a way to change course, emotionally heal, and continue moving toward their goals.”
In other words, resilience isn’t just about pushing through hard things; it’s about accepting what is and finding ways to overcome, even thrive, in spite of what is. Resilient people know what they can and can’t change and so they work around the can’t-change things, either by trying something different or changing their strategy. How do you know whether you’re resilient? You don’t until you’re forced to be. Before her father found himself in a tragic situation, I bet Jyoti never dreamed she’d be fetching him on a bicycle.
The Psychology Today article says that people who demonstrate resilience are more likely to see setbacks as having specific contributing factors and to also be temporary. They also tend to accept that life is a mix of losses and wins-you cannot expect things to go swimmingly all the time. During this pandemic, have you discovered a resilience you didn’t know you had? What if things were to get worse (God forbid)? Will you come back stronger? Can you learn resilience? Yes, according to the article.
Like the coronavirus pandemic, even more recent events require all good people to be resilient in the face of the severe and devastating inequalities embedded in our culture. Racism is as insidious-if not more so-than a deadly virus. It spreads quickly if not stopped and harms everyone on Earth. Its cause is fear, which leads to hatred, which benefits no one. Its cure starts with recognizing the interconnectedness of all life, followed by understanding followed by acceptance followed by love.
Resilience is required for standing up to the injustices that continue to ravage this nation. Now is the time to take immediate action to stop racism and heal our country from the atrocities of the past that continue today. Join the virtual Moral March on Washington, “the poor people’s campaign,” which invites us to change the status quo through peaceful action.
Most importantly, VOTE. Elect government representatives who support policies and laws that promote justice and equality for all lives and who are committed to funding education, housing equity, sustainable jobs, and other support systems that are vital to a thriving, resilient society.
Share your ideas and strategies with me for reinventing how we live to create a nation of happiness and health for all people. I’ll write about them in future posts.
Remember to take care of yourself during these challenging times. Also remember that when one suffers, we all suffer.