To open the NFL season, my New England Patriots lost to the Kansas City Chiefs. Even the best teams lose a game here and there, but the way they lost caused concern in Patriot Nation. Tom Brady looked every bit his 40 years of age. The defense appeared flat-footed, left in the dust by the Chiefs’ speedier players. For fans coming off a Super Bowl championship and looking to repeat, the loss was A Very Big Deal.
Soon after, Hurricane Irma would cruise up the Florida coast and, potentially, slam into Tallahassee where my father-in-law lives. He wisely packed up his most important belongings and, with fingers crossed, headed north out of Irma’s path. While we knew Dad would be safe, his home was still very much at risk. The potential for property loss was A Very Big Deal.
It was then that my father-in-law received even worse news: his younger brother was dead. He suffered a heart attack while stacking wood for his stove. Not yet 60, his death was both a shock and a tragedy within our family. His loss was A Very Big Deal.
I’ve written before, in the wake of tragedy, about the importance of, well, remembering what’s important, and what isn’t. Still, in the absence of true adversity, we often create some because humans, like most animals, need stress to survive.
Indeed, a better, and more famous, writer once wrote “let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”
In other words, adversity, wherever it comes, is both a challenge and an opportunity. In fact, embracing adversity, and overcoming it, can be rewarding.
The Patriots learned much about their team in losing to the Chiefs. They applied that knowledge with great success in their next game, leading to victory over the New Orleans Saints.
My father-in-law’s home survived the hurricane unscathed. And, prompted by the storm and his brother’s passing, he has all of his vital documents together for easy retrieval.
Little can staunch the pain of losing a loved one, of course. But Uncle Mike’s death literally brought scattered family members together for the first time in nearly a decade. In the middle of so much pain, there was also laughter, hugs and a great deal of love.
So, sometimes we find adversity, and sometimes adversity finds us. Either way, embracing adversity may leave us no less pained. But with the benefit of experience, we can come out on the other side better prepared for the next one.