“Strength shows, not only in the ability to persist, but the ability to start over.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
I have always marveled at the power and the endurance of the human spirit to overcome great odds and find the ways and the means to persevere through the worst of adversity.
As a young boy, I found inspiration and great comfort in reading how people survived the horrors of war, famine and nature’s destructive fury. I was in shock, but also in complete awe of those who found a way to survive the Holocaust. The stories of pioneers and those embarking upon great journeys across the oceans in wooden ships enthralled me – I thought that all of these people showed great courage and perseverance and they helped to give me sustenance, motivation and the strength to struggle through and survive my own childhood abuse.
The people who I read about in my youth still have my respect and admiration…but in the past twenty years, I have learned of so many incredible, new heroes of life. Those who have survived horrific child abuse in all of its forms, people overcoming devastating trauma and those who have known the pain and suffering of being labeled “mentally ill”, now help to give me comfort and inspiration. I still like to read historical accounts of others who came before me…but now I tend to look to today’s modern hero who has survived great odds and embarked upon a great journey of self-examination, spiritual enlightenment and a passion to take their trials and tribulations and use them as the means to help others. These folks embody what it means to be a hero of life – from whom we can find strength, comfort and hope. And I would imagine that most are the reluctant hero and would not see themselves as heroes or extraordinary, but they are. “The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.” Umberto Eco
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have been honored these past several years to share the stories and deeds of some of these heroes of life through the Surviving Spirit newsletter – space and time limit what can be shared, because there are so many to talk about. But for a world that is in need of good news…this is a blessing. You can learn more by visiting the Surviving Spirit website and signing up for the newsletter. And please do send me the information about your book, art, music, advocacy, writing and your advocacy passion…hopefully that too can be shared in a future newsletter or from the website.
Take care, Michael Skinner
“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” Don Williams JR.
PS. Personally, I have a strong dislike for the words “mentally ill”, because of the pain and suffering it has brought to me and others – I prefer to use the words, mental health challenges.