Disruption, Stress and Adversity
Disruption causes adversity and stress in subtle and incremental ways.
We think that it is only major events in our lives that create adversity. Loss of a family member, illness, accident, bankruptcy or loss of our homes and countries.
However, adversity can descend on us gradually. It can be started by disruption to the life we know. Attacks on our values, erosion of the good manners and correct behaviour we have always felt was normal. The gradual unravelling of the fabric of society.
I had a really good discussion with my elder son Shaun a few days ago. In a nutshell, he told me that I should listen to my own advice. Practice the five steps that I wrote about in my book 5 Steps To Thriving On Adversity. Follow the ideas and thoughts that seem to help others when I speak or those who read my articles here and elsewhere.
It's amazing how clever our children get as they get older. I seem to remember thinking the same about my father. Then I realised that it was because I was getting older that I changed my thinking. I hadn't realised through my younger, rebellious years how smart he was. Sadly he was murdered by terrorists when he was a little younger than I am now. I will never know how smart he may have been.
Shaun is right. Most of my life, I have survived the big disruptions, overcome the serious adversity. Bounced back from business failure, divorce, moving to new countries, losing homes (3 times) even being illegally arrested, interrogated and thrown into a filthy police cell.
Until my heart attack in 2010.
The physical part of the disruption to my life was easy to overcome. I was walking around the field within a week, on my horse within ten days. Six years on, I can use a heavy chain saw for hours at a time. I can walk briskly for 30 minutes and run for most of that.
I have nothing to complain about. Compared to most in this world I am very fortunate. I have enough to eat, a comfortable house to live in. I am grateful for that. My income is still much lower than it was 30 years ago when I was enjoying one of the more affluent periods of my life. My lifestyle is far less exciting than 20 years ago. It's also less dangerous. I can live with those changes, it's up to me to improve my situation.
Before the heart attack, I was too busy and too tired at night from my farming work to worry about more than getting through each day. Being busy was the best way to recover from the experiences in the previous 3 years in Zimbabwe.
I had very little time to spend absorbing the streams of information on the internet or in the "old" media. The flood of social media washed around me as if I was a frog sitting on a rock in the middle of a raging torrent. Conscious of it, but not affected by it as long as I stayed out of the flow. I didn't watch much TV or read many newspapers either.
The heart attack changed that.
Told to take it easy by the doctors, I no longer filled my days with hard work. I had no income, no savings and some debt. The only way I could think of earning money with no capital to start a conventional business was on the internet and through writing.
I attacked the learning process with the same enthusiasm as I did most things in life.
We survived, I got speaking and writing assignments, made a little money on the internet, did some farm related non-physical work .
But, it required that I spend many hours a day on the computer, much of it researching topics to write and speak about. I had to become familiar with the main social media platforms and build a following.
To do that, I had to jump off my rock and get in the water.
I carefully limit the time I spend on social media, however even a few minutes a day exposes a visitor to the endless stream of chatter which many users believe is their literary contribution to society. "Serious" on-line publications - major newspapers and supposedly main stream blogs are little better.
All seem to be driving a divisive, movement to a world of high expectations, but low standards. A world strong on entitlement but weak on effort, one that seeks to bring about "equality" by bringing everyone down to the level of the lowest; instead of recognising that inequality is part of nature. A world where the values that have helped Western society survive and thrive for two thousand years are being discarded and the fabric of society being torn to shreds. A world that confuses equal opportunity with equal rewards.
There will always be disparity. Despite the most brutal efforts of communist regimes or theocratic dictatorships, some of the people in those regimes are rewarded more than others.
Do I see things this way because of my age? Because of living in a different environment for most of my life?
However there are enough words written every day to show that I am not alone with my outlook. The problem is the main stream media on and off-line, chooses not to publish them, these views don't fit their agenda.
Disruption causes progress, I know that.
Without disruption to the old order, women would probably not have the vote, there would still be a job category of lift (elevator) attendant and we would still be using fax machines and typewriters.
Disruption also causes adversity and stress, which in many ways are harder to overcome than the serious, life threatening stuff.
I am reminded of the article "Why soldiers miss war" by Nolan Peterson in the Daily Signal which I quoted in this post on my blog. He wrote:
And for those who ultimately descend into a darkness from which they cannot save themselves, it was not war that broke them.
It was the peace to which they returned, but never found.
I do not have any desire to serve in another war, to have to carry a gun everywhere, to live under the conditions we did in Zimbabwe nor to re-live losing our farm and our country.
But when the disruption, stresses and subtle adversities of modern life in the West build up, I know exactly why those soldiers never find the peace to which they return.
Now I need to follow Shaun's advice, read my book again and stop fretting over the things I cannot change - no matter how frustrating they may be.