Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Emotional Life

I watched and enjoyed a portion of this PBS documentary tonight that discussed happiness.

One of the topics discussed was resilience. They interviewed Bob Schumaker who was shot down over Vietnam and spent 8 years as a POW. He was tortured and held in solitary confinement for almost 3 years. He discussed all of the ways he stayed sane and optimistic through a horrible trauma.

First, he dreamed. One of his main dreams was of the house he planned to build for his wife and baby son when he returned. He worked and reworked the plans in his mind, down to how many nails and how many square feet of plywood he would use. After his release, he built it.

Even though he was prevented from being with other prisoners, they developed a tap code so they could communicate through the walls. He demonstrates this amazing system here. The POWs even went so far as to teach one another classes using the tap codes on everything from French to music to television repair. The social support was vital to getting through the horrors of being imprisoned. Without the tap code, the POWs would have gone mad, or worse.

Bob said he would have not changed his experience for anything, despite the pain. He said he never gave up or doubted that he would come through it. He said he never regretted the time that he lost or what he suffered because he learned so much about himself through the experience. After his release, he had a happy marriage and a great relationship with his son (who he never met until he was 8 years old), and just loved life. His facial expressions and tone of voice clearly reflected his happiness.

And if he can do it, why can't I?


laurie said...

That is amazing, isn't it, Marjorie? I can't believe they did so much through tapping. Does make me feel I should be able to accomplish anything. Oh, there's that "s" word again! I saw a clip yesterday of a college kid who was born w/o eyes or the ability to walk, but he was able to play the piano at 2. He is in the college marching band and his dad pushes him around in formation. His dad works the graveyard shift at UPS, sleeps from 6-11 a.m. and from 11 til his shift, he does anything his son needs (attends every class w/him and band practice, etc.). I need to pull it together--ha ha! :-)

Greenmama said...

Are these stories inspiring us or making us feel guilty. LOL! You are amazing, too, you know. :)

Me, too. Some things I do that I think are nothing special, other people think is phenomenal. If I can count the times that people make comments of shock and admiration that I can eat vegetarian.

Anonymous said...

Hearing someone draw on their inner resources like that gives me shivers. I love the word resilience ~ and seeing it in action. ♥


Good point GreenMama. :)
Thanks for your comment on my bolg.
I had such a crazy week. Last week too. Lots happening these days. I will look closely at what I am feeling & needing. THANK YOU for bringing it up. It's important. I'll take more care & have more awareness this week. I'll keep you posted if I have any insights or things to share. I'm sure I will. ( ;D)

Big hug,