January 14, 2012

The Phoenix Effect

A Phoenix is a mythical firebird with a tail of gold and scarlet or blue and purple. According to ancient Greek mythology the Phoenix has a life span of 500-1000 years. At the end of its life-cycle it builds a nest of myrrh twigs that eventually ignites, burning both bird and nest to ash. From the ashes a new, young Phoenix is re-born to live again, old, yet new.

People though less mythical than a Phoenix, share in this unique ability. No, not physically obviously or we’d all be dead, but mentally and maybe even spiritually. In life many things change with time. Plants, animals, the environment, traditions, people and I’m sure a ton of other things. The one thing that never changes though, is death, because eventually all things die.

Some times death comes before we’re ready for it. A tragedy so deep you can feel it all the way in your bones. When that happens we as human beings have two choices. We can give up, throw away our goals, dreams, blame someone else and basically cease to live or we can fight. Fight to keep going, fight through the pain, accept responsibility and move forward.

The great thing about our species is our ability to adapt to almost any situation. Unfortunately with that uncanny ability of adaptation to change comes consequences. With each new tragedy we experience we lose a part of ourselves. When something violently rips through your life, leaving you broken and wracked with guilt the only way to fight and keep going is to get up and start over.

You can’t help but let a piece of yourself die with each life altering change. Death of a parent, a friend, a lover, a relative, an acquaintance, a sibling or a child. I’ll never understand how we do it. How we pick up after losing someone or something so important to us. How we go about a normal day when we feel anything but normal. I suppose pretending isn’t as hard as one might think. At some point though, we make a choice and most of the time we choose to fight. To keep on living, but with a piece of ourselves dead and gone.

It’s what I’ve now come to call the Phoenix effect. We live, and every day that goes by, every tragedy we face, we are re-born from it. We rise from the ashes of the pain and anger. We start over, sometimes from scratch, but almost always with a clean slate before us and the world at our feet.

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