One of my favorite words is resilience. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.” In this life we live, nobody is exempt from bad things happening to us like losing our jobs, a car accident, a disease, breakup or divorce, and the passing of a loved one. Some regard these happenings as a matter of probability, other as divine intervention as part of a bigger plan we cannot see. But independently of what your beliefs are, we call can agree that to enjoy this life at the most, we need to learn to be resilient.
Either written in our stars when we were born or crafted as a byproduct of our everyday decisions, we need to endure the blows of fate. But to become stronger after setback, we need to have the right mindset that allows us to learn and adapt into the situation. Philosopher Epictetus used to say “it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters,” and this perspective is key to understand the stoic concept of “amor fati” in Latin, or “love of fate” or “love to one’s fate,” which is used to describe an attitude towards life in which one sees everything that happens, including suffering or loss, good or bad, as something necessary. This “necessity” is not from perceived by stoics from a self-scourging perspective, but from acknowledging cruel events are an intrinsic part of our lives. The intention of this practice is to drive our minds away from the suffering and focus on strengthening the character.
Enduring hardship is one of the silent battles that we all fight daily. Yet, we seldomly halt in the tracks of our busy lives to look the surrounding people with empathic eyes and acknowledge their silent battles.
Every time I talked with my parents or grandparents, I was marveled of all stories of hardship they had endured during their lives, and yet severe, the scars of their wounds were not visible in their equanimity facade granted by maturity, unless you stepped very close. Only those stories could reveal the real person behind the skin thickened by the time to hold up to the whims of destiny. Like assembling a puzzle, these anecdotes helped me to create a more vivid image of how the lives of my forefathers before my time were.
And in all those stories of my relatives, there was always a constant. Their resilience.
For this reason, resilience is not only the title but the theme of my next novel, Vandella: Resilience, the sequel (and prequel in a way) of my debut novel, Vandella. In the manuscript, I’m trying to explore the idea of resilience as means to cope with a seemingly unavoidable destiny perceived by the characters.
Personally, resilience is also the ability I need to embrace as a writer. Even when publishing a book could look like an end on itself, truth is that putting a book out is just a tiny part from everything an author needs to do to grow a readership. Despite any setback experienced, I need to come back with a rejuvenated excitement for writing, just like I did when I started this journey. I’ve envisioned a series with multiple books already, and that demands from me to be resilient and endure any incoming hardship to tell the full story of Maia (the main character in my novel). The good news is that the first draft of Vandella: Resilience has been completed, and now I’m currently working on editing the second draft with aims of publishing the novel in 2022.
And meanwhile, for this new year that looms on the horizon, I would like to encourage you to become more resilient and embrace any whim of the destiny as if it was combustible to fuel our character. And please remind that we can’t change reality, but how we perceive it. In the wise words of Marcus Aurelius:
“It’s unfortunate that this has happened. No. It’s fortunate that this has happened and I’ve remained unharmed by it — not shattered by the present or frightened of the future. It could have happened to anyone. But not everyone could have remained unharmed by it.”
M. Ch. Landa