When temporary adversity hits, it can take a few days to process feelings and emotions. Mussar practice can help with this by encouraging study of those aspects of character (our soul traits) which affect how we deal with the challenging moments in life.
My most recent adversity moment came two weeks ago when my husband tore his Achilles’ tendon. For him, it was a nasty and painful injury with medium term severe immobility and long term rehab challenges ahead. After a couple of days of being chief nurse, I could see my own personal challenges for the next few months all too clearly.
The disappearance of the household fairies was key to realising I needed to change. They all had fled: the washing up fairy, the laundry fairy, the post fairy, the rubbish bin fairy, the dishwasher fairy. The list was endless. Then there were all the (mostly) reasonable requests from the immobile patient. I heard these requests as both military commands together with an underlying criticism that I hadn’t already done the task. But I knew they weren’t meant that way.
It became clear that if I were to cultivate more gratitude for what we did have, along with trust, and above all generosity, instead of self pitying selfishness (to put it very bluntly) then this would be immensely helpful for both of us. Fetching and carrying cheerfully and responding kindly and with generosity of spirit as an everyday habit is something I’d like to think I always do but it’s just not so. In everyday life, it’s sad to admit it’s a bit too easy to get away with a bit of selfishness. Come the crisis though, the more positive soul traits of generosity and loving kindness demand rather more attention and care.