Tag Archives: survivor

The Keys to the Kingdom Can’t Open All the Locks

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Being born a white, middle class American male undoubtedly comes with a limitless bounty of benefits. The struggles that most modern human beings have to face on a daily basis make the insignificance of any routine discontent seem laughable. On a macroscopic scale, this dichotomy is even more ridiculous.

As Eddie Vedder so aptly chanted, “He won the lottery by being born. Big hand slapped a white male American.”

But the only reality we know is our own, and perception can be a wily thing. I look at the daggers I’ve dodged, the nearly-impossible summits I’ve reached, and the countless pitfalls I’ve leapt, and I wonder exactly what that lottery ticket looks like. As I find myself standing back at the starting line for the umpteenth time, I can only imagine what this fight would feel like wearing a different color skin, in a different city, or without the love and support of friends and family to provide emotional safety nets along the line.

Surviving in today’s world is like walking through an infinite corridor, following a flash of light somewhere in the distance. Unfortunately, without warning, random pieces of the floor can disappear beneath your feet and occasionally massive boulders chase behind you in some theme park-replicated Indiana Jones living nightmare. It’s a wonder any of us make it through life…alive.

Questions and concerns, worries and wonder. There’s a lot taking up valuable brain real estate. We have self-constructed familial and social circles, and we spin inside those centrifuges, hoping that the sediment will settle. But being dizzy is a big part of those passage rites, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic position.

We’re all just doing our best not to wobble and fall, one shaky and carefully-planted step at a time.

Adolescence Interrupted

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The Fight

fight1Life is a brawl, but some of us have the innate ability to pull ourselves up from the mat, even when every cell in our bodies is screaming at us to stay down. Why do some people reach for that rope while others accept defeat?

This has been a central question throughout my writing, research, and life. I’m endlessly fascinated by survivors and the wiring required to face seemingly insurmountable obstacles with the mentality that failure is an unacceptable option. It’s more than willpower and a strong constitution. The defiance to fall is born from a fire raging deep within the recesses of our memories. It’s fueled by history and circumstance.

I can only speak from personal experience, but low self-esteem and an unrelenting drive to prove myself worthy have combined to transform fragile guts to concrete. My reluctance to bow is propelled by an incessant need to demonstrate inner strength. Spitting in the face of slim odds and disheartening diagnoses became my religion. Of course, there were times when that resolve faltered, but the mentality endured. I credit the “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mantra for my health and sense of purpose today.

Is this level of fight something learned? Can people be trained to be survivors or are they only built on the battlefield? Will someone without a difficult past still find the determination needed to break down walls of fear, despair, or hopelessness?

These are questions I will continue to ask in my pursuit of clarity. The human condition and the psychological puppet master pulling the strings are fascinating areas of study. Plus, what’s a day without some wildly complicated topic to obsess about?!

Adolescence Interrupted