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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Tension, Adversity and Courage

The experience of life is a play between tensions, between the demands on our time and attention that comes to us in greater and lesser degrees. Throughout our days and weeks, our months and years.

The tensions we experience are like the strings of a guitar or a piano, or the skin of a drum, the tension in them must be just-right or there is discord, when the tension in our lives is right, then we are balanced and we are in tune.

The tension exists between competing aims, objectives, ambitions, needs.

There is tension between our desires for ourselves and our responsibilities to others.

There is tension at work, and also at play.

There is tension in all of our relationships, in our hopes for ourselves and in our hopes for each other, in the way we communicate; whether we are affable or apathetic, talkative or silent, argumentative or agreeable, there is always tension.

At times, when the tension in our lives is slack, we experience it as an absence, as a lack.

We must be sensitive to the tension in our lives, like a sailor reading the wind in the sail, tacking left then tacking right, navigating the headwinds to cross the space between where we are and where we want to be.

We must train to be on the mark, we must practice for perfection.

Occasional adversity is good, the tension strengthens us, even in our closest relationships, even with our friends and partners, or our employers and coworkers.

Like the tension in our bodies when we stretch, or lift weights, tension makes us stronger, more nimble, it gets us in shape.  

Conflict, when coupled with the genuine desire for its resolution, helps us to step outside of ourselves and teaches us to take another person’s perspective into consideration.

We grow in this way.

We develop empathy in this way, by listening we develop a sensitivity to the tensions in another person’s life, to the rhythm of their narrative to its music, by hearkening to their desires and to their needs we come to understand our own, better.

We are each of us a mirror of the other.

Controversy promotes reflection, it engenders critical thinking and the analytics of self-reflection.

An argument, when it is pursued to its natural end, when disentangled from the ego and the tension of competition, if the argument adheres to the rules of logic, discourse and polity, if it follows those forms the argument will unite individuals rather than drive them apart.  

Even so…conflict, while potentially beneficial, is not wholly desirable.

Nevertheless, it is always better to dispute with someone when we think that they are in error, then to allow them to wander in error when a word or two might spare them.

Indifference will not resolve anything, neither will it draw anyone into a healthy state of tension, between the way we see the world, and the way the world actually is.

Be mindful, if we enter into disputation honestly, comport ourselves with decency, we may find that we are relieved of our own errors.

Prepare for this, be ready for it, we must be willing to receive correction at any time. It may be uncomfortable, even distressing, but it is liberating in the end.

When tension and adversity bring about pain, this is a true test of a person’s courage.

It does not matter if the pain is physical, emotional or intellectual, even spiritual.

A person must bear within themselves a willingness to rise above the challenges they face, a willing heart is a peaceful heart.

Open it.

We are often confronted with challenges that we did not choose for ourselves, would not have chosen if we had a say.

These are the dynamics of livings, se la vie, such is the nature of life.

Our willingness to accept and meet those challenges is what allows us to remain in control even when the anguish is great.

Faith sustains hope, and being sustained, hope gives birth to love.

Love endures all things.

The courageous heart is the union of these three; it is their flower.

This is the essence of courage.

A courageous spirit bears fruit on every branch of a person’s life, informing all of their relationships, touching them with providence.

Courage has a magnetism, amplifying all of a person’s best traits, drawing the courage of others to itself, magnifying their strength and power as well, while at the same time repelling the traits that weaken us; fear and doubt, envy and malaise.


Be courageous, master the tensions that bind us, resolve conflict and overcome adversity.