Word Prompt: Resilience | Story Prompt: from the book “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion

Write It Out: Instruction Video

“There came a time in the summer when I began feeling fragile, unstable. A sandal would catch on a sidewalk and I would need to run a few steps to avoid the fall. What if I didn’t? What if I fell? What would break, who would see the blood streaming down my leg, who would get the taxi, who would be with me in the emergency room? Who would be with me once I came home?

I stopped wearing sandals. I bought two pairs of Puma sneakers and wore them exclusively.

I started leaving lights on through the night. If the house was dark I could not get up to make a note or look for a book or check to make sure I had turned off the stove. If the house was dark I would lie there immobilized, entertaining visions of household peril, the books that could slide from the shelf and knock me down, the rug that could slip in the hallway, the washing machine hose that could have flooded the kitchen unseen in the dark, the better to electrocute whoever turned on a light to check the stove. That this was something more than prudent caution first came to my attention one afternoon when an acquaintance, a young writer, came by to ask if he could write a profile about me. I heard myself say, too urgent, that I could not possibly be written about. I was in no shape to be written about. I heard myself overstressing this, fighting to regain balance, avert the fall.

I thought about this later.

I realized that for the time being I could not trust myself to present a coherent face to the world.”

***

Wow, what a courageous woman the author was. This book really caught my attention, and I’m so glad to have read it. Sadly, Joan Didion passed away December 23, 2021.

We pride ourselves on our resilience, on our ability to push through and persevere. But at what cost? Admitting our fragility, our instability, may not be trendy but it is real. Even more than that, I think it is a necessary and healthy part of healing. This admission requires us being courageous and honest with ourselves and with others about what we need, right now.

Then the resilience can come, after that, once we’ve shored ourselves up.

Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.

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