Creativity and Resilience

Today I have been reading about resilience—a significant dimension of Emotional Intelligence.  I believe that resilience may even prove to be the most significant component as we continue to study genetics and biology, psychology, social and spiritual factors, and neurobiology.  Resilience is complex and wonderful and worth paying attention to in our daily lives.
Resilience contributes a great deal to our sense of the meaning of life–to what makes life worthwhile.  It is the invisible hand at our back gently pushing us up the steep and difficult pathway.  It uses humor, art, self-talk, and meditation to help us feelthe moments of joy in our lives—and there are many such moments if only we are awake to them. Resilience, actually the resilience of human beings, is also what fuels great organizations that are able to learn from down times or failure or setbacks and move forward to greater success and fulfillment.
One of the many ways we can build resilience is through creativity—our own and that of others. When I was in high school, my favorite teacher of all time, Robert Ruffing, had all of us memorize a sonnet by Shakespeare. We complained about this task at the time and felt it difficult and useless.  To this day (and it has been many years since), I find comfort and hope in the words of that sonnet, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning when anxiety always seems to loom larger.  I have no idea if Mr. Ruffing knew what a gift he was giving us all.  I rather suspect that he did and I am immensely grateful.
And that is why today I will begin memorizing this poem by Wendell Berry.  His creative act will become part of my mind and heart too—words to accompany me as I build resilience and step forth to rejoice in the joy of life even when darkness descends.    I hope it will become a part of you, too.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.