Week 3: Resilience

Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.–Jorge Luis Borges

The transition into retirement isn’t all about our Golden Years, is it? It’s also about loss: grieving over our lost loved ones, our youth, and our often-bleak view of the future. Maybe here, too, we can gain some new perspectives and face some real truths.

I can go through a litany of our problems, and believe me, I will! We can identify  ways of dealing with our faulty memories, our grief, and our suffering. Please read Billy Collins’ great poem on Forgetfulness:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/37695/forgetfulness

I have a suggested strategy for dealing, coping, even enjoying old age, and its got to do with the cultivation of resilience. This an important concept in ecology and  can teach us how to deal with impermanence (which is all aging, retirement, and loss is all about, isn’t it?). Oh, that Buddha: he had it figured out a really long time ago!

Simply put: The more resilient a system, the better it can recover from disturbance (change). The most resilient systems have more diverse species and habitats. Monocultures (systems with just one species, like a corn field) have less resistance to disease, invasive species and natural disasters like floods and droughts.  Human societies also thrive when there is more diversity (it’s not just a Left wing, liberal thing). Individuals also learn better, recover better, and enjoy more if they embrace change and new things.

Here’s a definition of resilience:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20591

And here, of course, is my iron-clad proof: Cute rats driving tiny cars and eating Fruit Loops. The point of the story is that the rats living in the “enriched” environment were faster learners. Check it out:

Image result for rats in tiny cars

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/watch-these-lab-rats-drive-tiny-cars-get-froot-loops-ncna1072031

 

Here’s more about challenging your old conditioned responses:

1. The Stoic Strategy for Surviving Loss

https://www.brainpickings.org/2018/08/26/epictetus-love-loss/

2. This article landed with a PLOP! into my day yesterday: it looks squarely and unflinchingly at the Golden Years.   Enjoy?

Why We Can’t Tell the Truth About Aging.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/11/04/why-we-cant-tell-the-truth-about-aging

3. The Ailing Body: This is a strange article, but very insightful, if you can slog through it:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/05/06/virginia-woolf-on-being-ill/

4. This one goes even deeper, but sorry; this is where a real investigation into impermanence takes us:

Over time, Buddhism and Science Agree

http://nautil.us/issue/36/aging/over-time-buddhism-and-science-agree-rp

Zoom meeting: Nov 6, 2019 07:00 PM

https://zoom.us/j/992048238

link to zoom recording: LINK