A Fresh Take on Hardship

Words exist in multiple realties for multiple people in multiple places at multiple times. They penetrate our psyches and touch our emotional bodies. They can provide hope or encourage despair. Author JK Rowling has written, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” Today, I offer a potential remedy to a crisis of the psyche by looking at the word, “Hardship.”

When we first hear it, we may think about the most difficult life experiences we’ve ever had, the ones that required tremendous amounts of energy to overcome. We may be reminded of unprocessed grief or sadness. We may be experiencing a hardship at this very moment. Regardless of any other images are born in our minds as a result of reading the word, “hardship,” I’d like, if only for a moment, to look at the word in a new light.

It is two words, put together (a compound word). “Hardships” are hard ships. Something that is “hard,” is also, often times, supportive, stable, unchanging, determined, strong, and durable. Ships were, not so long ago, the only way to see new parts of the world. Sure, you could travel by foot or horse-drawn carriage, but if you wanted to discover new land, reach unchartered territory, or pioneer a new path in a new world, you had to get yourself onto a ship. And so, with this understanding of the word, I look at hardships in a new way.

Perhaps our individual or collective hardships are “hard” because we have to learn a new way of existing and relating to the world before we can board the ship. The ships are hard to master, but once we mater them, they take us to unbelievable new places. Sometimes these are physical places; other times they are new states of being within our selves.

Travel and exploration are part of our nature. Perhaps each time a hardship arrives in our lives, we can imagine it is a literal ship. It is hard to learn how to steer this ship, but once we do, it will transport us to new realities.

Hardships are humbling, uncomfortable life experiences that are a special reminder that we are about to embark on a new adventure. Perhaps life gives us the ships for a reason, and their hardness is both their most admirable and most frustrating quality. But, their hardness is what will keep us safe as we sail to new places. The harder they are to master, the more durable the ship will be in supporting us as we step into the future.

When I think about hardships this way, I slowly become grateful for them.

© 2017 Shawna Marie Rodgers
All Rights Reserved.