Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

a year of morning thanks


It's no picnic to spell, but it slips off the tongue and through the lips as easily as breath itself. In that way, it's almost onomatopoetic--the sound of the word carries its own meaning, as in (the way I learned it once upon the time) "the murmuring of innumerable bees" (a line from Tennyson, I think). There are no glottal stops and no fricatives whatsoever to resilience. It's just easy, a puppeteer's dream, requires no lips. Smooth as silk, smooth as good chocolate.

I just looked it up. Its root is in the word salient, which somewhere around Aristotle suggested the very heart of an embryo, which, some claim, seems to leap. Re- introduces the idea of springing back, like the Everyready bunny. Hence, buried historically in its lithe character is the image of something springing back: "the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity."

The word requires very little of us, so little that we almost lose sight of its immense value. I'm not sure the word is affected at all by original sin. If I call someone slippery, I'm not writing a recommendation. President Reagan, to those who disliked him, was "the Teflon president," but not because he was "resilient." It's just that nothing stuck--like Iran-Contra.

Being resilient has nothing to do with being a punching bag either. Even though punching bags always come back, they're dopes. Resilience implies personality and character--there's more in the head than air or stuffing. Honestly, the word doesn't even have a dark side.

Shoot, just to think about it encourages the soul. It's a great word, easy on the tongue as hard candy and something we all really aspire to--resilience, the blessed ability to come back again and again and again and again, implying immense strength of character and will and purpose. Sheesh, give me some.

Resilience is just a fine word.

I heard it in a newscast last night, a compliment, of course, and thought of it this morning, the coldest morning of the year so far, probably -25 without the wind chill--but who's counting? Yesterday, I didn't go to the gym because I got my workout shovelling snow--again. Snow piles on our yard are now as tall I am, and it's only mid-January. The nights are long; the northwest wind is a frozen ratchet.

Resilience is hard to come by these days. Maybe that's why it sounded so blame good. Give me some, please.

No morning thanks here. This bitter morning, I'm all supplication.


carolsong said...

In less snowy but colder Winnipeg, we all laughed at ourselves this morning because we were saying, "It's not so bad this morning. It's only -33 today." As compared to -45 C the last few mornings. (Sorry, I don't know the F conversion.) But we are supposed to be much warmer on the weekend and the skating rinks, sledding hills and cross country ski trails will be packed. Then winter is a joy. Is that resilience?

pam at beyondjustmom said...

A school counselor once mentioned that the most important thing we can teach our children to succeed in school is resilience. It continues to resonate with me. If a child is brilliant, confident, or caring, but not resilient, (s)he will struggle through the daily frustrations of life. There are many more things I want to teach my kids, but resilience is definitely high on the list!
Thanks for the reminder.

Jennifer said...

I wasn't feeling very resilient yesterday. Even on the smallish Dordt campus, I had to step briefly inside a building to warm up before I made it to the classroom. I felt so un-Iowan, unable to withstand it.