In my last blog post I described what has strengthened my resilience in times of crisis. I am going to discuss some of the key factors in the following weeks. Let’s start with the basics. And they have a lot to do with Easter.
Acceptance instead of excuses
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” This well-known quote by the American theologian and philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr has become one of my essential principles of life. It guides me through crises, lets me face challenges and opens my eyes to opportunities.
Simply accepting a situation? This may not be comprehensible to some who are currently in an existential crisis. Quite honestly: I have not always thought like that either. For a long time, it seemed impossible for me to accept a difficult situation and even more so to accept a real crisis. I knew practically no standstill and could hardly let the steering wheel out of my hand. I often ignored difficult situations and compensated by speed. My principle was the more the better. To achieve a Guinness Book of Records world record on the Hoover Dam with my team, to study for the Master of Wine exam and to train for a marathon in parallel. All this seemed to be no problem for me. Those who know me longer know what I am talking about.
Confrontation with the worst case
And then I had to learn to let things happen, because I couldn’t change them. Back then, five years ago. When my exhaustion did not turn out to be the result of stress or too much travelling and sport. When it turned out to be the worst-case scenario. The laser that cuts my life into a “before” and an “after”. The doctor’s eyes, the diagnosis, the moment when life in the fast lane was brutally slowed down. From two hundred and fifty to zero. Without anti-blocking system.
At first, a complete vacuum absorbed my thinking and feeling. Then resistance: “Not me. We have never had anything like this in the family. It must be an error.” Self-pity sets in eventually. “Why me? I want my old life back.” More tests. In the doctor´s waiting room, i met people with a similar diagnosis. A young man was too weak to press the cup into the water stand. That moment has changed my attitude: I’ve accepted that I am sick. So sick that I can die from it. Period. No more excuses, no more repression.
Step by step back on track
Deep in my DNA a survival program has been activated out of this awareness. Instead of wasting valuable energy with pointless brooding, the will has been awakened to fight to get well again. I have begun to realize what I can and cannot influence. I learned about therapies, saw my doctors as mentors and advisors and accepted all the help I could get. And I set myself goals – back to life, back to my loved ones, back to the team in the office and finally back to studying and passing the Master of Wine.
I literally started with mini steps. To the end of the hospital hallway. I climbed the stairs. Five, ten, up one floor. And I’ve hit bottom after bottom in many ways. The night before the operation. Loneliness and doubt in the almost unbearable silence. Later, tangled up in cables and tubes and slipped next to the toilet. Too weak to stand up alone. All this has taught me humility and gratitude for the hands that have literally caught and lifted me up again and again. But it has also strengthened my confidence in myself. To accept the unchangeable and yet to overcome this crisis.
After a few weeks I was back with my loved ones. After three months I was back in the office. The following year I passed the theoretical and another year later the practical Master of Wine exam.
I am completely recovered and healthy today. Because an incredible number of people near and far have helped me incredibly well. But also, because I have accepted, that there is never the perfect situation as well as the right to be well always and at any time. I have accepted my diagnosis and thus laid the groundwork to change things for the better. This confidence still carries me today.
Easter and the crisis
And that brings me to Easter and Corona. For the current crisis applies the same as for Easter, where we celebrate the resurrection after death and apparent hopelessness. We all feel that this crisis is doing something to us. For many it is even an existential situation. But i am convinced that the doubt, the hopelessness, which many people might feel, will lead to something new. Let us accept the feeling of being “at the mercy of others”, the loud silence of self-doubt. Let’s not waste our energies on brooding, but rather look ahead. Let us find out what we can change and how to tackle it. Life after the crisis will be different than before Corona. But life is always “work in progress”. This attitude helps me, and I hope that many people feel the same way.