Strength through struggle

Everything we know we learn from our handicaps. They are far better teachers than strengths. As the author Bernard Malamud quipped, “if you haven’t struggled, you haven’t yet lived.”

Mental illness, speech impediments — these brain sprains muddle thoughts and make life hard to read. But the cognitive tips and tricks we use to cope with these vulnerabilities form a chemical miracle. We’ll never be able to medicate our problems away. Managing the dialectic keeps us cognitively flexible, unlike our reassured counterparts who often shatter in hubris.

How and why God selected us to suffer — no one ever wishes an illness on another — is a mystery. Spirituality aside, the misfortune lies within our genes; personality traits get hard coded into our DNA. Experience teaches us to channel the anxiety positively rather than get swallowed by the elements.

We live inside ourselves; we know that striving to fix a handicap merely pushes us over the edge. Striving for acceptance alleviates frustration. Active hope is a survival strategy that calcifies endurance and propels effort. We age, with all the scars, into an admirable aura. We fight to win.

Dwarfed by the elements, there’s only more to gain by developing psychological instruments. How we react and manipulate the downside makes us humble and nimble creatures. Freedom from constraint is quite simply overrated. If life were so easy, we wouldn’t know how to be awake.