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"With singing and banners": trauma, conflict, resilience and poetry

It's coming up to the two year anniversary of one of the major potential traumas of my life - see "Walking in Skye & Kintail: mountain rescue, helicopter winches, and avoiding death & PTSD."  I felt there was so much to learn from this experience that I try to re-read the description every month to help me remember the precious lessons that were involved.

We can gain resilience through difficulty - not too much, but not too little either.  The researcher Mark Seery has written extensively about this - for example in last year's paper "An upside to adversity?: Moderate cumulative lifetime adversity is associated with resilient responses in the face of controlled stressors" and his earlier "Whatever does not kill us: Cumulative lifetime adversity, vulnerability, and resilience."  Other research teams have also noted these effects e.g. Neff & Broady's paper "Stress resilience in early marriage: can practice make perfect?"  There is even truth in the folk wisdom that experiences of difficulty can help us value the good things in our lives even more - "From tribulations to appreciation: Experiencing adversity in the past predicts greater savoring in the present."

I'm in a book group and we have been asked to read Jane Hirshfield's fine collection of poems "Each happiness ringed by lions".  The request is to choose a few of the poems to read out when we next meet ... and to write a reply or extension to one of them.  Here is Jane's "With singing and banners":

Demosthenes, a wise man, filled his mouth
with pebbles before speaking,
and a stream which has run ten feet over rocks
is clear, they say, and safe to drink;
yet still we forget what is owed our failures -
blessings, to praise the stumbled on stone.
And forget what we once knew, how properly to greet
old enemies, for whose sake we practise and parry,
become strong:
with singing and banners, with gladness.

And the 'extension':
Walter Scott, a fine author, wrote of
‘The stern joy that warriors feel in foeman worthy of their steel.'
and it is walking’s repeated impact
that strengthens bone and prevents fracture.
A meditation teacher once told me ‘It can be good to have some pain,
it helps us to stay present.’
Celebrate the warm embrace of friends;
And celebrate too the cold splash
of enemies
with singing and banners, with awareness.

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