Struggle is everywhere. It presents itself to us daily, in many different forms, and each time, we have a choice of how to approach it. Everywhere we look, someone or something is facing and overcoming adversity:
• It has been said that the initial struggle a baby bird meets with to emerge from its egg is necessary for its survival. Chicks that overcome the struggle of hatching are generally strong enough to sustain life outside the egg.
• Increased muscle growth and density is a result of the body’s natural repair response to the tearing of tissue. Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic explains that, done correctly, resistance exercise and the struggle in the last few repetitions before exhaustion optimize muscles and sends them “the message to build themselves up in preparation for the next battle.”
• A mother must labor through the birthing process so that she and her baby can enjoy life together.
• Those who have suffered the loss of loved ones know that the grieving process is one of the toughest struggles of all. Yet, most also know that there must be an appropriate duration and eventual end of the grief if life is to move forward in honor of those lost.
Erik Weihenmayer is familiar with struggle. As a youth, he lost his eyesight to a degenerative eye disease. In the advanced stages of the degeneration, Erik dealt with frustration and anger associated with gradually losing his ability to see and engage in activities he had been always been well-equipped to enjoy. Yet after being struck completely blind, Erik faced his adversity and determined to turn it into his strength. He has achieved what relatively few have: Erik has successfully climbed the Seven Summits – the highest peaks on each of the seven continents…and he did it completely blind.
Erik’s struggle and his determination not to yield to it produced strength of character that many admire and greatly respect. This strength he now shares with others, seeing and non-seeing, all over the world, inspiring them to scale their own summits and giving them hope that they might see possibility in the impossible.
The same opportunity to make a difference for ourselves and for those around us exists for us every day. We may not be losing our sight or climbing an icy peak, but none of us lives without challenge, adversity, and struggle. They are integral components of life and growth; we are who we are today because we have made it through all the struggles of our yesterdays.
In the ongoing pursuit of the lives we want, let’s be conscious of our struggles, give them the attention they require, embrace them as opportunities to grow, and power through them with the expectation that we will emerge stronger, better adapted, and wiser on the other side.
Will we be the ones who choose to fight through pain and exhaustion to hatch to strong, healthy lives, or will we be those who give up and never grow beyond the bounds of a thin shell? The decision is ours and ours alone.