Finding Strength at Times of Struggle

In the heart of Kyiv, life is tough and real, and each day here means facing fear head-on. But within this harsh reality, there’s resilience, and beauty.

Life here is gritty. The frequent air raids keep us all on high alert. The siren sounds and by now we automatically head in the direction of the bunkers. It sounds like it’s “Just another day in war-torn Kyiv.” But that’s not my intention. I don’t want to sound flippant or dismissive about the situation by any means.

I want to talk about the humanity despite the dangers and despite the fear.

Witnessing Tenderness and Strength

Recently, during an air raid, musicians set up in the bomb shelter, just like you’d see buskers in the subway on your normal commute. The music grounded us, giving us a sense of normality and unexpected beauty. These musicians showed strength and empowered action, bringing joy despite the war that carried on above ground.

When immersed in the midst of our own struggles, our focus tends to narrow, making it challenging to extend empathy towards others. In highly stressful situations, like those in war zones or disaster-stricken areas, individuals often find themselves on high alert, a state where the heightened response to perceived threats can lead to a self-protective mindset. In this heightened state, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed, as if everything is beyond our control.

Importantly, this sense of heightened alertness isn’t exclusive to extreme circumstances; it can also manifest on a regular Tuesday, stuck in traffic or visiting the grocery store. In these seemingly mundane situations, our experiences and emotions are no less valid. Personal struggles, whether extreme or everyday, are part of the same human experience.

So, what can we learn from the musicians in the bomb shelter? Amidst the chaos, they demonstrated a powerful lesson in navigating adversity. Their artistic expression, the empowerment they derived from taking action, and their connection with the community all serve as valuable insights applicable to our everyday lives.

  1. Artistic Expression:
    • Much like the musicians who found solace in playing during an air raid, we can channel our emotions into creative outlets. Whether it’s writing, drawing, or playing music, artistic expression provides a tangible way to process and express our feelings. On a side note – you don’t even have to be good at it!
  2. Empowerment Through Action:
    • Taking action, however small, empowers us in times of high alert. The musicians took a bold step, setting up in the bomb shelter and bringing joy amidst chaos. Similarly, in our daily lives, taking small steps towards our goals, no matter how insignificant they may seem, can provide a sense of control and purpose.
  3. Being Part of a Community:
    • The musicians’ act was a community effort that brought people together in a shared moment. In our everyday lives, fostering connections within our communities, whether friends, family, or neighbors, offers support and strength. Being part of a community reminds us that we’re not alone, especially when facing the challenges of life.

Artistic expression, empowerment through action, and community connection are not reserved for extreme situations. They are tools we can wield to navigate the highs and lows of everyday life, fostering resilience and a sense of purpose in the face of challenges, whether monumental or mundane.

Bomb Shelter Beauty

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If you have enjoyed this article and would like to take this journey further, check out my book The Good Thing About Mortar Shells: Choosing love over fear”.