Mazola1's Reviews > Resilience: The New Afterword

Resilience by Elizabeth Edwards
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Oct 03, 09


It is said that a grieving woman once came to the Buddha carrying her dead child. She had been wandering the streets for days with the child's body, unable to put it down. Asked to restore the child to life, the Buddha told the woman that she must first bring him a grain of rice from a house that had known no loss. The woman searched in vain for such a house and finally realized the lesson the Buddha was trying to teach: that she must put down the child's body. This story is, of course, a story about the hardest problem humans confront, how to deal with loss.

In a sense, Elizabeth Edwards' book Resilience is about that same problem and her struggle to learn the Buddha's lesson. Edwards writes about three great losses in her life, the death of her son Wade, her diagnosis of incurable breast cancer and her husband's very public and very humiliating infidelity. These are the kind of events that we all will suffer and which change our lives forever, and divide our lives into before and after. When they happen, we wish that life would return, as before. But, as Edwards writes, "'Before' is gone forever." When that happens, she says, "the only way to find peace, the only way to be resilient when these landmines explode beneath your foundation, is first to accept that there is a new reality." Our old lives no longer exist, and "the more we cling to the hope that these old lives might come back, the more we set ourselves up for unending discontent."

Edwards' book has a raw honesty as she describes her grief over her son's death, and her struggle to come to terms with it. Regret and bitterness mark her description of her reactions to her cancer and her husband's infidelity. In this, she shows herself to be very human. One gets the sense that like the woman in the Buddha's tale, she spent too much time carrying the dead body of her child around, too much time wishing things would have turned out differently, too much time regretting the loss of her old life.

Perhaps that's why Resilience isn't really an inspiring book, although some have found it to be so. I would call it instead a wise and thoughtful book. It's the story of making difficult adjustments in response to difficult problems, or as Edwards puts it, standing in the storm and when the wind doesn't blow your way, adjusting your sails. That's a lesson we would all be the better for learning. Elizabeth Edwards' book which tells the story of how she learned that lesson, may help others to chart their own way through stormy weather when it blows their way. Which makes it a book worth reading and thinking about.

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