Grit, resilience, strength under pressure. Lucille touches on this theme in her latest edition of Metropolis
Calling the train I catch most weekday mornings a subway is an oxymoron, since it leaves from a station that is elevated. As with all trains in the NYC subway system, sometimes it runs well and sometimes we experience delays. Lately I've experienced another kind of delay around that train station: delayed delight.
The immediate area around the elevated station is not a pretty sight. Dust and road grit abound on any given day. The wide triangular concrete plaza below is surrounded by bus stops and has, as long as I've been using the station, lacked beauty or amenities: trash swirls in the air currents as buses brake and accelerate and trains screech to a stop overhead or launch themselves back out of the station.
Added to that, a couple of months ago the bulk of the plaza space was enclosed by a chain link fence for renovations. Now there is a narrow path between the fence and the curb to navigate to the stairs up to the train platform, lots of construction rubble on the ground along with the usual debris, and discarded paper and plastic bags pressed up against the fence by the wind.
What, I keep wondering, could they be building here? A much-needed bus dispatcher's hut so you can find someone in charge when you need him or her? Open space for enhanced public use—some real attempt to beautify the plaza? Either—or both!—of these would be most welcome.
Whatever delight or helpful feature may be coming our way, for now the area is worse than it was, harder to navigate and more unpleasant to be in. Even with recent signs of a possible green space being added, which would be wonderful, I find myself irritated at the inconvenience. Each time I arrive there I need to summon some patience and the good kind of grit—resilience—to tolerate the process, not to feel defeated by the unsightly mess and tight space during the renovations.
There’s been a lot said lately about resilience and grit. There is much written about how our kids in schools need to be taught to be resilient, to develop grit, so that they can succeed later in life. I would posit that not only is this something we all need, but also that developing resilience is a lifelong journey.
Yes, we want to support our children and students in learning to weather the challenges that life throws us. And we need to recognize that as our own experience broadens and more of life is tucked under our belt, we are often faced with new challenges, some minor and some with high stakes, for which old coping strategies may not work. This is when we need to add to our stock of grit and resilience, no matter our age and experience; when we need to boost our spirits with patience and persistence, when we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, reach out to our friends and supporters, and figure out how to proceed.
It’s a good reminder for me as I navigate the tiny annoyance of my current public transit situation: so many of our youth today face seriously challenging circumstances, and it is so important that we help them foster resilience and grit to endure and thrive despite the obstacles life throws their way. It is essential that we teach them to call upon their inner spirit and strength to bear up under pressures and trials far more exacting than the delayed gratification of my daily commute.
So I will rally my resilience for this small issue I currently face. And I will do what I can to help young people with whom I interact muster their inner strength and develop their own true grit when confronting problems of much more monumental magnitude.
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