Nature & Health

Driving alone in her car late one night with no one else on the road, my mother felt a sharp pain in her chest. She pulled over thinking that she was having a heart attack. The pain intensified so greatly it became almost unbearable. She let out a deafening scream. Surprisingly this helped the pain subside. She checked herself into the hospital just to be sure but the doctors could find nothing wrong with her. They put it down to a ‘broken heart’.

At the time my parents were going through a painful divorce following seventeen years of marriage. For my mother, this meant starting her life over at 45 years of age with two young children. Not having a sense of who she was or what she wanted from life this task seemed too daunting to even contemplate. There were occasions when she wondered if it would be easier to go to sleep and never wake up. The road ahead looked too long, too hard and unlikely to ever lead to happiness again.

The rebuilding process began by putting one foot in front of the other over and over. She created a vision for her life as one of happiness and fulfillment. ‘The full loaf’, as she termed it. A life that was rich, fresh and full of flavor. To help her get the ingredients rights she engaged a counsellor and the support of her friends. During this time she bought a house, found a job, took up swimming, finished her schooling, completed an university degree and met the man that she would eventually marry and find lasting happiness with. She also became a senior Lifeline counsellor using her experience to help others overcome challenging life situations.

Today millions of people around the world are faced with the same daunting prospect. As the current financial crisis takes a firm grip on global economies many people are having to start again. Some at an age they consider ‘too old’ to want or have to. Many have lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their marriages, their retirement funds. For some they have lost all of the above. No one has escaped unaffected. Even for those whose lives remain intact we all know someone, directly or indirectly, who has been hit. The loss of the securities we took for granted for so long has rocked our confidence in the institutions that helped create them. Our wounds run deep and the healing and rebuilding process is one that requires time, patience and perseverance.

The Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ comprises of two elements - danger and opportunity. While the world faces the danger of a global economic slowdown, record unemployment and drop in consumer confidence the opportunity lies in how we personally choose to face the road ahead. For some this path will be longer and harder than for others. Individually it’s an opportunity to reassess our lives and redefine our goals. For the global community it’s an opportunity for governments and organisations to address the mistakes that contributed to the situation to ensure they never happen again.

Every moment is an opportunity to start again. To choose a new perspective, a new approach or a new way of being. Change can happen in an instant. For better or worse depending on where we decide to place our focus. For my mother, she describes her path of starting again as one of the toughest, most challenging paths she has ever travelled. But looking back the rewards have far outweighed the pain. My mother has emerged a happier, more fulfilled person than ever before. Hopefully years from now the world will look back on today’s global ‘crisis’ and recognise the rewards that would never have been possible had we not endured the pain.