“This instant is the only time there is.” — “A Course in Miracles,” Lesson 308

“Perhaps the most radical act of resistance in the face of adversity is to live joyfully.” — Ari Honarvar

We’re battle-hardened down here on the coast of Texas. Among hurricanes, floods, freezes, pandemics and other challenges over the years, I honor the incredible resilience of our Texas neighbors. They rebound by just picking up, cleaning up, rebuilding and moving on. Shrugging off financial, emotional and personal losses, they just “keep on truckin’.”

“What gives you the strength to keep going?” I asked a young man in the emergency room recently who had suffered not only a job loss, frozen pipes but also a current and severe COVID infection. “My grandkids, my kids, my family,” he replied without missing a beat.

Several other emergency and urgent care patients told me how they kept warm by sleeping in a family bed with children, dogs and adults. They finally redeemed the benefit of feeding those puppies over the years by them becoming part of their heating system.

It has been a tough time, after a tough year. But it seems when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I have so much admiration and respect for our fellow humans who just keep on keeping on, no matter the challenge.

This is no small matter. The most vulnerable of the vulnerable are those with borderline cognitive function or dementia, mental health problems, poverty and food insecurity, unemployment, chronic illness. We as a community need to reach out with compassion, empathy and practical support to them, now more than ever. Maybe you can find just one person in need and offer shelter, food, funds, a warm blanket, a prayer.

In many ways, such trying times as these are truly a chance for us to grow and learn in so many ways. The idea of living in the here and now is so essential and centering in times of uncertainty. We feel we can hardly cope with the painful past or worrisome future. We can, however, and always have dealt with the reality of this instant. The only instant we have. The only time we have. This is the cutting edge of where we decide how to survive or to thrive.

While we cannot change what happens to us, we do have the opportunity to choose to live joyfully in the face of it. Yes, we can get down and out, gripe and focus on the negative side of negative situations. Or, we can embrace the moments of adversity as times to learn, to grow, to choose life, joy and even peace as the place we inhabit in our spirits and consciousness.

May each of you believe in and connect with the deep inner core of strength you possess. Share that light and confidence with others.

Maybe that is how these tough Texans, and people everywhere, bounce forward from disaster to joy.

“The only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keeping on.” — Bob Dylan

Dr. Victor S. Sierpina is the WD and Laura Nell Nicholson Family Professor of Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at UTMB.

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(1) comment

Bailey Jones

A long time ago, as the story goes, there was a Buddhist monastery in a rain forest. It was the monsoon season. The head monk came to a student to ask how he was progressing.

The student said, "Master, it rains every day, all day long. The skies are gray, everything is wet and everything stinks. How can I find peace in such a place?"

The Master replied, "The problem, my son, isn't the rain. The problem is that you were expecting sunshine."

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