Resilient systems

Beep. Beep. Beep. 

The infamous computer-sound for panic.

Oh God. No. This cannot be happening to me right now.

Please. Please. Please. My mutterings chanted in sync with the incessant beeping of my external hard drive.

That was Saturday afternoon. By Sunday night, the drive was dead and beyond affordable repair.

Thousands of photos. Hundreds of gigabytes of unfinished video projects. All of my university files. Gone. One-hundred percent eliminated with the freeze up of Finder and a quick swipe of an ‘improper’ ejection. Actions so simple, so mundane and ordinary to me the all-day Mac user, that I struggle to replay their significance now.

Unlike a novice photographer, I’m a digital storyteller; unlike a mother of children, my babies are my beta files.

Sulking on Sunday eve, I honestly wondered: How will I ever recover?

Resilience: A word I have often used to describe my life’s story thus far.

Looking back on all that I have been, and all that I plan to be, I rely on this underserved notion of human resilience to keep whacking my machete forward – on to wherever this path of adventures is taking me.

Resilient systems, by definition, require: diversity to defeat redundancy; interconnectivity; a way to balance feedback and shock; integrative thinking; and encourage learning.

Sounds like a system I subscribe to.

Like these systems, I too thrive on diversity of ideas and interconnected ways of living. Like these systems, I embrace growth and opportunity, focusing my thoughts not on despair but: How can I improve this situation?

Degradation – in health, in practice, in sanity of thought – is almost unavoidable in this cell-bound body of life and death. But to counter repose with resilience is a choice, and it’s a choice I intend to keep choosing.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The melancholy sound of bodily defeat.

I lie beneath the scanning eyes of the MRI machine, a girl of a woman seemingly broken beyond quick repair.

I thought myself a warrior. I thought I had cast aside the chains of anorexia and exchanged them for a new name: vegan athlete goddess.

But unlike my beloved plants, my body yearns for animal protein – and I had deprived her of nourishment one sweaty workout session too long.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

I counted my breaths impatiently; patience for a healthy recovery I would (be forced to) learn, soon enough. Little did I know I would pay the price for my inexhaustible fantasy and my inexcusable actions for the next 7 months – still counting.


Resilience: A word that transcends my trivial, weekly mini-crises and has blossomed into a motto, a career trajectory, and a lifestyle.

I see myself as a catalyst for climate change resilience.

My aspiration, as an interdisciplinary environmental scholar, is to elevate multi-stakeholder ecosystem resilience projects, and to share these stories of successful collaboration to a world that desperately needs hope.

There are solutions to mitigating the extreme effects projected from human-driven global climate change. I have seen them. I have read about them. I have studied them. I have participated in some of them.

There are still so much more to discover.

And like the resilience required to achieve the ever-elusive balance of sustainable living, I know that this is the crossroads upon which I stand.

This road of resilience is my climate action.

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” —Epictetus

Like all of my trials and tribulations, I made it work.

I let go of all my beloved digital files and exchanged my archivist sorrow for gratitude and improving good health.

I let go of the hardline diet-daydream and now eat, drink, and exercise with purposeful pleasure.

I let go of the fallacy that I will know everything now, and live joyously with the anticipation of surprises.

I let go of terror and dread and embrace this unpredictable road of opportunity.

I let go of my ambitious inclination to save the whole world, and instead have saved myself.

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